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AIG Property Casualty Co. v. Watts Regulator Co.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 24, 2017

AIG PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY, as subrogee of John and Chris Kelley, Plaintiff,
v.
WATTS REGULATOR CO., and WATTS WATER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Kristen L. Mix United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Watts Water Technologies, Inc.'s (“Watts Water”) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction [#15][1] (the “Motion”). On August 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Response [#16] in opposition to the Motion. On September 15, 2016, Defendant filed a Reply [#18]. The Court has reviewed the case file and the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#15] is GRANTED.

         At the outset, the Court must address Plaintiff's request to conduct limited discovery with respect to this Court's jurisdiction over Defendant. See Response [#16] at 6-7. Plaintiff states that it needs discovery to determine “the relationship between Watts Water and its subsidiaries and the control Watts Water has over its subsidiaries . . . .” Id.

         The Court denies Plaintiff's request for limited jurisdictional discovery for the following three reasons. First, Plaintiff failed to comply with Local Rule 7.1(d), which states that “[a] motion shall not be included in a response or reply to the original motion. A motion shall be filed as a separate document.” D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(d). Plaintiff's request may be denied on this basis alone.

         Second, Plaintiff does not provide the Court with any indication of the type of information it needs. Instead, Plaintiff provides the following description of the types of discovery needed to establish jurisdiction:

Such discovery would be limited as follows: 1) around 10 requests for production of documents; 2) around 10 interrogatories; 3) the depositions of Timothy MacPhee, a Watts Water F.R.C.P. 30(b)(6) deposition, and select signatories of the Form 10-K, including Robert J. Pagano, Jr.

Response at 7. These nebulous references to discovery tools are insufficient to convince the Court that any specific discovery is necessary before determination of the Motion [#15].

         Finally, the Court notes that the Motion [#15] was filed on July 14, 2016. Despite ample opportunity, Plaintiff has not made any further request for limited discovery since that time. Accordingly, Plaintiff's request for limited discovery is denied.

         I. Background

         This action arises out of water damage incurred by John and Chris Kelley (the “homeowners”) to their vacation property located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Am. Compl. [#10] at 2. While the homeowners were away, a toilet connector failed in the second floor bathroom, allegedly resulting in damages to the property totaling $593, 366.85. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff AIG Property Casualty Company (“AIG”), as subrogee of John and Chris Kelley, filed suit against Defendants Watts Regulator and Watts Water, alleging that the toilet connector was manufactured, assembled, labeled, marketed, distributed, and/or sold by Defendants. Id. Specifically, Plaintiff brings three claims against Defendants: (1) strict liability, (2) negligence, and (3) breach of implied warranty. See generally Am. Compl. [#10].

         On July 14, 2016, Defendant Watts Water filed the present Motion [#15]. Defendant argues that the Court should dismiss the claims against it for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), because it is merely “the investment vehicle for the Watts family of products” and has been improperly grouped with Defendant Watts Regulator, which is the manufacturer within the Watts family of companies.[2] Motion [#15] at 5. Defendant Watts Water, which is a Delaware corporation, asserts that it lacks sufficient contacts with the State of Colorado for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over it. Id.

         II. Legal Standard

         The Court analyzes Defendant's argument that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). “The district court is given discretion in determining the procedure to employ in considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction . . . . Facts regarding jurisdictional questions may be determined by reference to affidavits, by a pretrial evidentiary hearing, or at trial when the jurisdictional issue is dependent upon a decision on the merits.” Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Oaklawn Apartments, 959 F.2d 170, 174 (10th Cir. 1992) (internal quotations and citations omitted). A plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Behagen v. Amateur Basketball Ass'n of the U.S., 744 F.2d 731, 733 (10th Cir. 1984). Before trial, a plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Id. “The plaintiff may make this prima facie showing by demonstrating, via affidavits and other written materials, facts that if true would support jurisdiction over the defendant.” OMI Holdings, Inc. V. Royal Ins. Co., 149 F.3d 1086, 1091 (10th Cir. 1998). The Court accepts the well-pled allegations (namely the plausible, nonconclusory, and nonspeculative facts) of the operative pleading as true “to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits. If the parties present conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor, and the plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving party.” Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         The exercise of personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant must satisfy the requirements of the forum state's long-arm statute as well as constitutional due process requirements. Doe v. Nat'l Med. Servs., 974 F.2d 143, 145 (10th Cir. 1992). “Colorado's long-arm statute is coextensive with constitutional limitations imposed by the due process clause.” Day v. Snowmass Stables, Inc., 810 F.Supp. 289, 291 (D. Colo. 1993). Therefore, if jurisdiction is consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause, Colorado's long-arm statute authorizes jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Under the due process clause, personal jurisdiction may not be asserted over a party unless that party has sufficient “minimum contact” with the state, so that the imposition of jurisdiction would not violate “traditional notions or fair play ...


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