Tuesday, March 1, 2022

General Jurisidiction Fails But Specific Jurisdiction Prevails Over Trucking Defendants

In the case of Allen v. Foxway Transp., Inc., No. 4:21-CV-00156 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 27, 2022 Brann, C.J.), the court denied a Motion to Dismiss based upon general personal jurisdiction issues raised in a tractor trailer accident case that involved Pennsylvania Plaintiffs and out-of-state Defendants.  The accident actually happened in New York state.

The court found that there was no basis for general personal jurisdiction over either of the Defendants in this case.  Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann noted that general jurisdiction exists over foreign defendants when their contact with Pennsylvania is so systematic and continuous as to render them at home in Pennsylvania.  Here, the court found that the frequent freight hauling into Pennsylvania is simply the regular course of doing business which is insufficient to trigger jurisdiction over a Defendant.

The court additionally reiterated a rule that the designation of a Pennsylvania registered agent as a federally regulated motor carrier also did not serve to create general jurisdiction.

However, Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann ruled that, since the Defendant was shipping freight that was destined to go to Pennsylvania and given that the trucker had injured Pennsylvania residents during the course of the trip, there was enough case-specific contacts by the Defendant to support a finding of specific personal jurisdiction over the Defendant trucking company and driver even though the subject accident occurred outside of Pennsylvania.

The court noted that the other Defendant, who had brokered numerous Pennsylvania shipments, including the one at issue in this case, was found to have the same state-specific contacts with Pennsylvania to support a finding of specific personal jurisdiction over that Defendant as well.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck from the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

Source of image:  Photo by Addy Mae from www.unsplash.com.

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