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Matosich v. Wright Medical Group, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division

July 17, 2019



          Jeremiah C. Lynch, United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is Defendant Wright Medical Group, Inc.'s Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons discussed, the Court recommends the motion be granted without prejudice.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Craig Matosich resides in Missoula, Montana. In 2008, after arthritis in his right hip began limiting his activities, Matosich underwent a surgical procedure for a total hip replacement. The procedure involved the implant of medical products identified as the Profemur neck and Profemur Z femoral stem, a Conserve Head and a Conserve Cup. Matosich alleges the products were all designed, manufactured and sold by both Defendants Wright Medical Group, Inc. and Wright Medical Technology, Inc.

         On September 4, 2017, Matosich's “right leg suddenly gave out[, ]” and he fell to the floor in his house. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 18.) He alleges it was subsequently determined that the medical products surgically implanted to replace his hip in 2008 had failed - the femoral neck product had broken. He then underwent a lengthy surgical procedure to repair and replace the broken hip components.

         Matosich alleges Defendants are liable for the failure of the medical products he received in the 2008 hip replacement surgery. In his complaint he advances several causes of action under Montana law. He asserts subject matter jurisdiction over this action is predicated upon diversity of citizenship, and that the requisite amount in controversy is satisfied, all as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Matosich alleges Wright Medical Group is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its a headquarters and principal place of business in the State of Tennessee. And he alleges Wright Medical Technology, Inc. is a subsidiary of Wright Medical Group which was also incorporated under the laws of the Delaware with its principal place of business in Tennessee. But Wright Medical Group contends it has no contacts with the State of Montana sufficient to support the existence of this Court's personal jurisdiction over it and, therefore, it moves for dismissal. For the reasons discussed, the Court agrees.

         II. Applicable Law

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit a defendant to move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). In responding to the motion, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the exercise of personal jurisdiction is proper. Ranza v. Nike, Inc., 793 F.3d 1059, 1068 (9th Cir. 2015). The court may consider affidavits and written discovery material to decide the personal jurisdiction issue raised in a motion to dismiss. Davis v. American Family Mutual Ins. Co., 861 F.2d 1159, 1161 (9th Cir. 1988). Where a motion to dismiss is analyzed based only upon written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, then “the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss.” Ranza, at 1068 (citation and quotation omitted). Although the plaintiff may not simply rest on the bare allegations in the complaint, the court must accept uncontroverted allegations in a pleading as true, and conflicts between competing statements in affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiffs favor. Id. (citation and quotation omitted); Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Technologies, Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1223 (9th Cir. 2011).

         III. Discussion

         In a case predicated upon diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant the “court must make the following determinations: (1) whether an applicable state rule or statute confers personal jurisdiction over the defendant; and (2) whether assertion of jurisdiction comports with constitutional principles of due process.” Signal Peak Energy, LLC v. Generon IGS, Inc., 2018 WL 5309820, *3 (D. Mont. 2018) (citing Data Disk, Inc. v. Systems Technology Associates, Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1286 (9th Cir. 1977)). Under the first prong, generally federal courts apply applicable state law in determining the bounds of their personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Ranza, 793 F.3d at 1068.

         In response to Wright Medical Group's motion Matosich does not identify and argue a specific state statute or rule which confers personal jurisdiction. Therefore, the Court will proceed to consider whether a finding of personal jurisdiction over Wright Medical Group comports with due process under the United States Constitution.

         In general, federal due process principles require that to have personal jurisdiction over a particular defendant the defendant must “have certain minimum contacts” with the forum state “such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' ” Picot v. Weston, 780 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2015) (quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Depending upon the extent of the minimum contacts, two forms of personal jurisdiction may exist: general and specific. Picot, at 1211. General personal jurisdiction may exist where a defendant's affiliations and contacts with the forum state are “so continuous and systematic as to render the foreign corporation at home in the forum State[.]” Ranza v. Nike, Inc., 793 F.3d 1059, 1069 (9th Cir. 2015).

         Matosich does not argue Wright Medical Group has such continuous and systematic contacts with the State of Montana so as to render it present in Montana for general personal jurisdiction. Thus, jurisdiction can only ...

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