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In the Matter of the Fort Totten Metrorail v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

December 23, 2010

IN THE MATTER OF THE FORT TOTTEN METRORAIL
JENKINS
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, ET AL.,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge

CASES Arising Out of the Events of June 22, 2009 LEAD CASE:

THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO: ALL CASES

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case was referred to me for resolution of discovery disputes. Currently pending and ready for resolution is Plaintiffs' Response to Defendant ADCO Circuit[s] Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Leave to Conduct Jurisdictional Discovery [#108] ("Plains. Mot."). For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be granted.

INTRODUCTION

This case arises out of the June 22, 2009 Metrorail train accident that resulted in the deaths of nine individuals and the injury of between seventy and eighty others. Plains. Mot. at 1. Plaintiffs are various passengers on that train as well as the estates of those passengers who are deceased. Second Amended Master Complaint [#125] ("SAMC") ¶¶ 20-155. Defendants are 1) the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA"), the owner of the subway system where the accident occurred (SAMC ¶ 3), 2) Alstom Signaling, Inc., a Delaware corporation that "provides train traffic control equipment, software and support services to Defendant WMATA" (SAMC ¶ 7), 3) Ansaldo STS USA, Inc., a Delaware corporation that "provided train traffic control equipment, software and support services to WMATA" (SAMC ¶¶ 10, 11), 4) ARINC, a Delaware corporation that "provided train traffic control equipment, including a safety warning system designed to detect the presence of other trains on the track, software and other support services to Defendant WMATA") (SAMC ¶¶ 13, 14), and 5) ADCO Circuits, Inc., a Michigan corporation that "provided circuit boards which were installed in train traffic control equipment manufactured and/or assembled by Defendants Alstom and/or ARINC and sold to Defendant WMATA" (SAMC ¶¶ 16, 17).

On August 2, 2010, ADCO moved to dismiss all claims against it on the grounds the Court lacked jurisdiction over it pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and that plaintiffs failed to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant ADCO Circuits, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Master Complaint for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim ("ADCO's MTD") [#73]. Plaintiffs then sought leave of the Court to file a Second Amended Master Complaint ("SAMC") [#125], which was granted nunc pro tunc by minute order. See Minute Order dated October 18, 2010. In that complaint, plaintiffs assert nine claims against ADCO: 1) Count VII: Negligent Train Traffic Control (SAMC ¶¶ 228-241), 2) Count IX: Strict Products Liability-Design Defect, Manufacturing Defect, Failure to Warn (SAMC ¶¶ 250-259), 3) Count X: Negligence-Design Defect, Manufacturing Defect, Failure to Warn (SAMC ¶¶ 260-267), 4) Count XI: Breach of Implied Warrant of Merchantability (SAMC ¶¶ 268-272), 5) Count XII: Breach of Express Warranty (SAMC ¶¶ 273-276), 6) Count XIV: Negligent Train Traffic Control (SAMC ¶¶ 284-298), 7) Count XV: Breach of Warranty & Implied Warranty of Fitness for Particular Purpose (SAMC ¶¶ 299-305), 8) Count XVI: Wrongful Death (SAMC ¶¶ 306-307), and 9) Count XVII: Survival Action for Injuries Prior to Death (SAMC ¶¶ 308-311). In its opposition to ADCO's motion to dismiss,*fn1 plaintiffs also moved the Court for an additional sixty days within which to conduct jurisdictional discovery.*fn2 Plains. Mot. at 2. That is the motion currently before the Court.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

In the District of Columbia Circuit, the standard for permitting jurisdictional discovery is "quite liberal." Diamond Chem. Co. v. Atofina Chems., Inc., 268 F. Supp. 2d 1, 15 (D.D.C. 2003). Accord Davis v. Grant Park Nursing Home LP, 639 F. Supp. 2d 60, 75 (D.D.C. 2009). "[H]owever, in order to get jurisdictional discovery a plaintiff must have at least a good faith belief that such discovery will enable it to show that the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant." Caribbean Broad. Sys. Ltd. v. Cable & Wireless PLC, 148 F.3d 1080, 1090 (D.C. Cir. 1998). Accord Farouki v. Petra Int'l Baking Corp., 683 F. Supp. 2d 23, 28 (D.D.C. 2010). In addition, plaintiffs must provide the Court with a "detailed showing of what discovery it wishes to conduct or what result it thinks such discovery would produce." United States v. Philip Morris, Inc., 116 F. Supp. 2d 116, 130 n.16 (D.D.C. 2000). Ultimately, the trial court has broad discretion to allow or disallow the discovery sought. FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Markets. Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1093 (D.C. Cir. 2008). Accord NBC-USA Housing, Inc., Twenty-Six v. Donovan, -F. Supp. 2d -, 2010 WL 3786502, at *4 (D.D.C. Sept. 27, 2010).

II. Analysis

Plaintiffs claim and ADCO does not dispute*fn3 that general jurisdiction is proper under "the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regional Compact, which establishes original jurisdiction in this Court over WMATA matters pursuant to WMATRC Art XVI § 81; D.C. Code Ann. § 1-2431(81) (1981) and DC ST § 9-1107.10."*fn4 SAMC ¶ 1. ADCO does dispute, however, that it is subject to this Court's personal jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2).

In order for this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over ADCO, a non-resident defendant, the Court must first determine whether such jurisdiction is authorized by the District of Columbia's long-arm statute and then whether the exercise of such jurisdiction satisfies due process requirements. See NBC-USA ...


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