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Seiferth v. Helicopteros Atuneros, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

December 11, 2006, Filed

No. 05-60860

Opinion

 [*269]  JERRY E. SMITH, Circuit Judge:

Frederick Seiferth ("Seiferth") appeals the dismissal of his suit against Helicopteros Atuneros, Inc. ("HAI"), and Mark Camus for want of personal jurisdiction. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand.

HAI, a California corporation with principal place of business there, buys, sells, leases, and maintains helicopters. It leased a helicopter to non-party Air 2, L.L.C. ("Air 2"), for one year, with Air 2 assuming responsibility for all maintenance, inspections, and operational expenses. There were no geographic restrictions on the helicopter's operation, and Air 2 was not required to inform HAI of  [*270]  the helicopter's whereabouts.  [**2]  The lease expressly authorized the use of an "externally attached cargo rack to support an aerial lineman" for work on power line structures.

Mark Camus 1 designed and patented an external work platform for use with a helicopter. Although he is a Tennessee domiciliary, all work on the design was conducted in Florida, where he was living at the time. He licensed the design to Air 2, which had hired him as a pilot. Air 2 had the platform manufactured, and it installed the platform on the helicopter leased from HAI. Camus transported the helicopter and work platform to Mississippi for use by Air 2 in that state. In April 2000, be fore flying a mission for Air 2 in Mississippi, he inspected the work platform.

In February 2001, James Seiferth, an Air 2 employee and New York resident, was standing on the work platform performing an aerial inspection of power lines [**3]  in Mississippi. The base of the work platform broke, and he fell, suffering injuries resulting in his death.

Seiferth, as the decedent's personal representative, sued HAI and Camus in federal court, invoking diversity jurisdiction. The court, after denying Seiferth's request for limited jurisdictional discovery as to HAI, granted the defendants' motion to dismiss for a lack of personal jurisdiction. Seiferth appeals the dismissal and, in the alternative, the denial of discovery as to HAI.

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472 F.3d 266 *; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 30391 **; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P17,625

FREDERICK M. SEIFERTH, REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HEIRS AT LAW OF JAMES A. SEIFERTH, DECEASED, Plaintiff-Appellant, VERSUS HELICOPTEROS ATUNEROS, INC., AND MARK CAMOS, Defendants-Appellees.

Subsequent History: On remand at, Motion denied by Seiferth v. Helicopteros Atuneros, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101305 (N.D. Miss., Dec. 4, 2007)

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, No. 4:03-CV-463.

Disposition: The court affirmed the district court's judgment as to the denial of the representative's request for jurisdictional discovery, the claims against the lessor, and the defective design claim against the designer. The court vacated the judgment as to the remaining claims against the designer. Those claims were remanded for the district court to determine whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction was fair and reasonable.

CORE TERMS

contacts, helicopter, personal jurisdiction, Air, exercise of personal jurisdiction, platform, leased, district court, forum state, inspected, forum contacts, transported, discovery, long-arm, pilot, nonresident, plane, negligence per se, failure to warn, minimum contact, stream-of-commerce, purposefully, manufacture, flight

Civil Procedure, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Challenges, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Abuse of Discretion, General Overview, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Discovery & Disclosure, Jurisdiction, Constitutional Limits, Long Arm Jurisdiction, Torts, Procedural Matters, Commencement & Prosecution, In Personam Jurisdiction, Purposeful Availment, Minimum Contacts, Substantial Contacts, Burden Shifting, Business & Corporate Law, Management Duties & Liabilities, Causes of Action, Placement of Product in Commerce