Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; Hon. Noel A. Kramer, Motions Judge.
Rogers, Chief Judge, Farrell, Associate Judge, and Reilly, Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reilly
Challenged on appeal is an order of the Superior Court dismissing for lack of jurisdiction an action brought by five residents of the District seeking damages for personal injuries incurred on the New Jersey turnpike when their car collided with a vehicle owned by Chancellor Fleet Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marriott Corporation. Alleging that this accident was caused by the negligence of Dennis Reed, the driver of that vehicle, appellants' complaint named both Reed and Marriott Corporation as defendants. *fn1
The record discloses that service of process on Marriott was made by sending the summons and complaint to the corporation's registered agent in this city. Service upon Reed, a resident of Maryland was never effectuated in the District.
On behalf of both defendants, a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue was filed, together with a supporting memorandum pointing out that although Marriott did substantial business in the District, it was not domiciled there because its international corporate headquarters was situated in Maryland, and therefore, not covered by D.C. Code § 13-422 1989 Repl.). The movants also argued that they were not covered by the long-arm statute, id, § 13-423, but should the court disagree, dismissal under another code provision, id., § 13-425 (forum non conveniens) should be granted because a more appropriate forum would be New Jersey, where the cause of action arose, or Maryland, where both the corporate and individual defendants were domiciled.
In opposing the motion, appellants declared that the long-arm statute did indeed bring Marriott within the jurisdiction of the trial court. Insofar as pertinent, that subsection of the Code, § 13-423(a), reads as follows:
(a) A District of Columbia court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, who acts directly or by an agent, as to a claim for relief arising from the person's
(1) transacting any business in the District of Columbia;
(2) contracting to supply services in the District of Columbia;
(3) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by any act or omission in the District of Columbia;
(4) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by any act or omission outside the District of Columbia if he regularly does or solicits business, engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed, or services rendered in the District of Columbia . . . .
Drawing the attention of the court to paragraph (4), (supra) , appellants noted that the movants had conceded that Marriott "regularly does or solicits business in the District" and elaborated on this concession by pointing out that Marriott operated hotels, restaurants, and other food services here. Except for an assertion that plaintiffs had been treated for their injuries in the District, the opposition memorandum failed to dispute the movants' point that the "tortious injury" was sustained in New Jersey and accordingly the alleged conduct of defendants outside the District was not the cause of injury in the District. In also opposing the request for dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds, appellants argued that outside of their travels on the turnpike, they had no other nexus to Jew Jersey, and that Marriott, because of the proximity of its headquarters to the District, had a "plethora of resources" to defend litigation in its courts.
After considering these memoranda, the motions court entered an order dismissing the case, with a notation that "the motion of the defendants is granted, since there is no statutory basis for personal jurisdiction over the parties." Plaintiffs appeal from the dismissal order only in its application to Marriott and concede that the court was correct in holding that the individual defendant, Reed, was beyond its jurisdiction. *fn2
Assigning as error the court's holding that there was no statutory basis for jurisdiction, appellants argue that under the provisions of another statute, D.C. Code § 13-334(a) (1989 Repl.), the motions court did have jurisdiction over Marriott ...