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National R.R. Passenger Corp. v. R and R Visual

July 19, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler United States District Judge


Plaintiff National Railroad Passenger Corp. ("Amtrak") brings this action against R&R Visual, Inc. ("R&R") and its subcontractor American Pipe Lining, Incorporated ("APL"). Amtrak alleges that R&R and APL failed to perform certain contracts to repair corrosion and leakage in waste system piping located throughout a number of Amtrak passenger train cars. On September 13, 2006, the Court granted APL's motion to file a Third-Party Complaint against RLI Insurance Company ("RLI") and Constitution Insurance Company ("Constitution"), but ordered that the Third-Party Complaint be severed from the underlying action between Amtrak, R & R Visual, and APL.

This matter is now before the Court on Third-Party Defendant RLI Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue [Dkt. No. 84/85]; Third Party Constitution Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue [Dkt. No. 94]; and the Request for Oral Hearing by Third-Party Defendant Constitution Insurance Company [Dkt. No. 97]. Upon consideration of the Motions, Oppositions, Replies, and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Constitution's Motion to Dismiss is granted, RLI's Motion to Dismiss is denied, RLI's Motion to Transfer is granted, and Constitution's Request for Oral Hearing is denied.


Amtrak's Complaint in this case alleges that in 2001, Amtrak's operators and maintenance personnel began to report frequent and widespread leaks of waste into the passenger compartments and lavatories on its Superliner II passenger cars. Amtrak engaged APL and R&R to investigate and assess the problem and to restore the structural integrity of its metal pipes to prevent further corrosion and leakage. The Complaint alleges that APL and R&R failed to fulfill their obligations under their contracts with Amtrak, as evidenced by their failure to perform any repairs on ten cars as well as the appearance of new leakage and corrosion problems on the purportedly repaired pipes. On April 25, 2005, Amtrak brought this suit for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of warranty, negligence and unjust enrichment against APL and R&R.

On August 8, 2006, APL moved to file a third-party complaint against its insurers, RLI and Constitution, seeking insurance coverage for its defense of the claims alleged in Amtrak's Complaint. On September 13, 2006, the Court granted APL's motion, as well as its request to sever the Third-Party Complaint from Amtrak's underlying Complaint. APL filed a First Amended Third-Party Complaint ("Am. 3PC") on October 5, 2006.

The First Amended Third-Party Complaint alleges that in August 2005, RLI denied coverage for APL's defense in this case. RLI subsequently agreed to provide coverage on the condition that APL accede to representation by a law firm designated by RLI. The First Amended Third-Party Complaint alleges that this condition is a breach of RLI's contract with APL as well as a breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. APL also seeks a declaratory judgment that RLI and Constitution are required to provide coverage and indemnification for their defense against the claims asserted in Amtrak's Complaint. RLI and Constitution have each filed motions to dismiss or to transfer the First Amended Third-Party Complaint to the Southern District of California.

II. Analysis

A. APL Has Made No Showing of Personal Jurisdiction over Constitution

Constitution moves to dismiss the Third-Party Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) on the ground that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it.*fn1 The Court agrees. Constitution is not incorporated in the District of Columbia, and does not have any employees or offices or do any business here. Constitution Mot., Kossman Decl. at ¶¶ 2-4. Moreover, Constitution's insurance policies at issue in the First Amended Third-Party Complaint were negotiated and sold in Glendale, California, and were issued from Constitution's New York office for delivery to APL's San Diego office. Id. at ¶¶ 6-8. Accordingly, Constitution has no contacts with the District of Columbia sufficient to provide a basis for the exercise of personal jurisdiction under the District of Columbia's Long Arm Statute. D.C. Code § 13-423. See United States v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 116 F. Supp. 2d 116, 129 (D.D.C. 2000) ("A defendant has minimum contacts with a jurisdiction when it has 'purposefully directed [its] activities at residents of the forum, and the litigation results from alleged injuries that arose out of or relate to those activities.'") (internal citation omitted).

APL devotes its entire Opposition to an argument in support of the Court's supplemental jurisdiction over the claims in the Third-Party Complaint. APL's argument completely misses the mark. Supplemental jurisdiction relates to subject matter jurisdiction. It is not a means for obtaining personal jurisdiction over parties not otherwise properly before the Court. As Wright and Miller have explained,

Supplemental jurisdiction, by whatever name, is a doctrine of subject matter jurisdiction. It permits federal courts to entertain claims that do not satisfy an independent basis of federal subject matter jurisdiction, such as diversity of citizenship or federal question jurisdiction. As a matter of common law, several courts of appeals have recognized a doctrine of "pendent personal jurisdiction," which is wholly unrelated to [28 U.S.C.] § 1367. Pendent personal jurisdiction permits a court to entertain a claim against a defendant over whom it lacks personal jurisdiction, but only if that claim arises from a common nucleus of operative fact with a claim in the same suit for which the court does have personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

13 Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3523 n.21 (3d Ed. 2007). Since this Court has no personal jurisdiction over Constitution arising from other claims asserted in the lawsuit, it cannot exercise any personal jurisdiction over Constitution in the Third-Party Complaint.

The Court must have both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. See Ruhrgas Ag v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 577 (1999) ("Jurisdiction to resolve cases on the merits requires both authority over the category of claim in suit (subject-matter jurisdiction) and authority over the parties (personal jurisdiction), so that the court's decision will bind them."). For personal jurisdiction to exist, due process demands satisfaction of the requirements of the District of Columbia Long Arm Statute, D.C. Code ยง 13-423. APL has failed to make any showing that such requirements have been met in Constitution's case. "The plaintiff has the burden of establishing a factual basis for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant." Crane v. ...

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