Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Eastern District Court Dismisses German Office of Porsche From Products Liability Claim Due to Lack of Jurisdiction

In the case of Riad v. Porsche Cars N. Am., Inc., No. 18-5175 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 24, 2023 Pratter, J.), the court granted a Defendant’s F.R.C.P. 12(b)(2) Motion to Dismiss based upon lack of jurisdiction.

In this matter, the Plaintiff had purchased a used Porsche from a non-Porsche-brand dealer. Years later, after noting problems with the vehicle’s engine and, the Plaintiff was instructed by Porsche to bring it to the nearest dealership for inspection and repair.

On the way to the dealership, smoke allegedly began coming through the AC vents into the passenger area allegedly causing the Plaintiff to suffer permanent lung damage and asthma.

The Plaintiff filed a products liability claim against or Porsche Cars North America, Inc. and Porsche AG.

Both Defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The court had previously ruled that it could exercise general personal jurisdiction over Porsche Cars North America.

The court granted Porsche AG’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The court first ruled that it did not have general personal jurisdiction over Porsche AG as that entity was not “at home” in Pennsylvania.  Rather, that company was incorporated in, and had its headquarters in, Germany.

The court denied to find that Porsche North America was a mere alter ego of Porsche, AG, which would have permitted the court to impute general personal jurisdiction.

Rather, the court found that there was sufficient evidence that the two entities were separate legal entities that interacted with each other pursuant to arm’s length agreement and that neither party exercised dominion or control over the other. 

The court additionally stated that there was an agreement between the parties that expressly disclaimed any authority for Porsche North America to act as an agent or legal representative of Porsche AG.

The court also found that it lacked specific jurisdiction over Porsche AG in that there was no evidence that that entity had purposefully directed its business activities in Pennsylvania.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 16, 2023).

Source of image:  Photo by Clement Roy on www.unsplash.com.   

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