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Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co. - 374 F.3d 797 (9th Cir. 2004)

Rule:

A three-prong test is utilized for analyzing a claim of specific personal jurisdiction: (1) the non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, that is, it must be reasonable. The plaintiff bears the burden of satisfying the first two prongs of the test. If the plaintiff fails to satisfy either of these prongs, personal jurisdiction is not established in the forum state. If the plaintiff succeeds in satisfying both of the first two prongs, the burden then shifts to the defendant to present a compelling case that the exercise of jurisdiction would not be reasonable.

Facts:

In early 2002, defendant Fred Martin Motor Co. (Fred Martin), an automobile dealership incorporated under the laws of Ohio, engaged defendant Zimmerman & Partners Advertising, Inc. to design and place a full-page color advertisement (Advertisement) in the Akron Beacon Journal, a local Akron-based newspaper. Most of the Advertisement consists of small photographs and descriptions of various cars available for purchase or lease from Fred Martin. Just below a large-font promise that Fred Martin "WON'T BE BEAT," the Advertisement includes a small, but clearly recognizable photograph of Schwarzenegger as the Terminator.

Plaintiff Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor who portrayed the Terminator, brought suit against Fred Martin and Zimmerman in Los Angeles County Superior Court, arising out of the unauthorized use of his image in the Advertisement. Defendants removed the action to federal district court in California, and Fred Martin moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). The district court granted Fred Martin's motion, and Schwarzenegger timely appealed, asserting general personal jurisdiction in that Fred Martin purchased Asian-made automobiles that were imported by California entities, retained the services of California direct-mail marketing and sale training companies, and maintained an accessible Internet website.

Issue:

Did the district court properly dismiss the action on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction over defendants?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment, holding that Schwarzenegger did not establish either general or specific jurisdiction over the dealer in California. According to the Court, although Schwarzenegger made out a prima facie case that Fred Martin committed intentional acts that might have caused harm to Schwarzenegger in California for purposes of specific jurisdiction, the Court found that Schwarzenegger failed to make out a prima facie case that Fred Martin expressly aimed its acts at California rather than Ohio.

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