through a distributor who has agreed to serve as the sales agent
in the forum State." Id.
The plaintiffs contend that the defendant purposefully
transacted business within this jurisdiction. The Court agrees.
It is true that aside from an informational website,*fn2
there is no evidence that defendant marketed its product to
businesses in the District or had a longstanding relationship
with any business in the District. The defendant did, however,
have a single contract with a District-based corporation, for
which it custom retrofitted and delivered the ENG van. Pls.'
Supplemental Opp'n to Def. Wolf Coach's Mot. to Dismiss for Lack
of Personal Jurisdiction ("Pls.' Supplemental Opp'n") at 34. The
Supreme Court has indicated, in dicta, that a single act can
support jurisdiction as long as the defendant "creates a
`substantial connection' with the forum." Burger King, 471
U.S. at 475 n. 18, 105 S.Ct. 2174 (citing McGee v.
International Life Insurance, Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223, 78 S.Ct.
199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957)); see also Mitchell Energy Corp. v.
Mary Helen Coal Co., 524 F. Supp. 558, 564 (D.C. 1981) (stating
that "[a] single act in the jurisdiction by defendant, under
some circumstances, may be sufficient to constitute `transacting
business', and thereby confer jurisdiction"). Thus with no
"mechanical test" to apply, Burger King, 471 U.S. at 478, 105
S.Ct. 2174 (quoting International Shoe, 326 U.S. at 319, 66
S.Ct. 154), this Court must consider the "quality and nature" of
defendant Manifold's contacts with this jurisdiction, Burger
King, 471 U.S. at 480, 105 S.Ct. 2174, and whether exercising
personal jurisdiction offends the "traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice." International Shoe, 326 U.S. at
316, 66 S.Ct. 154.
As to the nature of the defendant's conduct, the Court finds
that it was "qualitatively significant." United States v.
Ferrara, 54 F.3d 825, 830 (D.C.Cir. 1995). Not only did the
defendant's business transaction with the District involve
negotiations between Fox representatives in the District and
defendant's representatives in Massachusetts, see Pls.'
Supplemental Opp'n at 3-5 (describing negotiations, which
include faxes and phone calls from Massachusetts to the District
and a meeting in the District between the defendant's national
sales representative and Fox), but the end result of the
contract was an ENG van to be used specifically for news
gathering not only in the District but in the metropolitan area
that Fox news covers. Moreover, the projected cost of the sales
transaction itself was quite significant (i.e., $200,417).
Equally important, finding personal jurisdiction in this case
does not offend the "traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice," International Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316, 66
S.Ct. 154, because the defendant sought to serve the
metropolitan D.C. area by negotiating a contract with a
District-based news organization with the prominence of Fox
World-Wide Volkswagen Corporation, 444 U.S. at 295, 100 S.Ct.
559. Having negotiated directly with the Fox station in D.C.,
the defendant surely had every reason to believe that the van
was going to be used by Fox to cover news in the D.C.
metropolitan area. See Shoppers Food Warehouse v. Moreno,
746 A.2d 320, 332 (D.C. 2000) (noting that "[t]he Metropolitan
Washington, D.C. area functions, in many respects, as a unified
legal and commercial community"). Unlike the new car purchased
in New York and driven to Oklahoma in World-Wide Volkswagen,
the use of the van in areas immediately surrounding the District
(e.g., Alexandria, Virginia) was expected and utterly
predictable. Indeed, the defendant had been previously sued in a
similar situation in which a mast on an ENG made contact with a
power line in Virginia, see Hall v. CNN America Inc., 1996 WL
653839, and was thus well aware at the time it retrofitted the
1998 van that Fox covered news in surrounding areas with their
vans. Unlike Asahi, where the defendant's product was merely
placed into the stream of commerce, the defendant here directed
its product to the DC area. The van's path to this jurisdiction,
far from floating aimlessly in the stream of commerce, was
direct and foreseeable. The defendant personally delivered the
van to the District, see Pls.' Supp. Opp'n at 5-6, and had
every reason to believe it would be operated in the D.C.,
southern Maryland, and northern Virginia areas.
Finally, even if there are minimum contacts, the defendant
maintains, this Court does not have personal jurisdiction
because the plaintiffs' claims do not "arise from" the
defendant's business transactions with the jurisdiction (i.e.,
the "delivery of the van"). D.C.Code 13-423(b); Burger King,
471 U.S. at 474, 105 S.Ct. 2174; Def. Wolf Coach Inc.'s Response
to Pl. Supplemental Opp'n to Def. Wolf Coach's Mot. to Dismiss
at ¶¶ 3-4. The nexus here, however, is sufficient because there
is a "discernible relationship" between the business transacted
in the District and the claims. See Shoppers Food Warehouse,
746 A.2d at 333. The business transaction is not simply the
delivery of the van, as the defendant contends, but is the
transaction of selling the van to a business in the District.
That van, or transaction, is itself related to the personal
injury claims brought by the plaintiff.
B. Forum Non Conveniens
Even if this minimum contacts supports personal jurisdiction,
the defendant argues that the case should be transferred to a
different venue under the forum non conveniens doctrine. To
transfer the case, the defendant bears the burden of showing
that there is an adequate alternative forum. Piper Aircraft Co.
v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 254, 102 S.Ct. 252, 70 L.Ed.2d 419
(1981); El-Fadl v. Central Bank of Jordan, 75 F.3d 668, 677
(1996). The defendant in this case has never specifically
averred which alternative forum is available, though it implies,
by stating that the accident occurred in Virginia, that the
Eastern District of Virginia is a more appropriate forum.
Because the defendant did not transact business in any other
forum except Massachusetts, it is unlikely that a district court
in Virginia would be able to support personal jurisdiction over
the defendant. For this reason, the defendant has not
demonstrated that an adequate alternative forum exists, and this
Court denies the motion to transfer the case.
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ordered that the
defendant's motion to dismiss and the defendant's motion to
transfer the case are denied [# 25-1, 25-2].