Federal Court affirms District Court’s judgement denying general and specific jurisdiction over Japanese company and its U.S. subsidiary

On March 24, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s dismissal for lack of personal of plaintiffs-appellants’ claims against Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. (YMUS), in an action alleging violations of federal and state warranty law and other claims, brought by appellants who purchased allegedly defective outboard motors that Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. (YMC, a Japanese company) designed and manufactured in Japan and that YMUS imported and marketed in California.

The panel held that YMC itself did not have sufficient contacts with California for the exercise of U.S. general jurisdiction. The panel also held that appellants failed to plead sufficient facts to make out a prima facie case that YMUS operated as YMC’s “alter egos.” The panel noted that even assuming that YMUS’s contacts could be imputed to YMC, that did not, on its own, suffice to establish general jurisdiction under the 2014 Supreme Court case Daimler AG v. Bauman.

With reference to the district court’s specific jurisdiction over non-resident YMC, the panel held that appellants did not allege any action that YMC “purposefully directed” at California. YMC neither conducted activities within the state of California nor targeted California via marketing and advertising.

Assuming that some standard of agency continued to be relevant to specific jurisdiction, the panel held that appellants failed to make out a prima facie case for any such agency relationship between YMC and YMUS and its in-state connections; they had not alleged the requisite control of YMC over YMUS’s activities.

Williams v. Yamaha Motor Corp., 851 F.3d 1015 (9th Cir. 2017) is available at http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov…          Open PDF

For more information about how to summon foreign enterprises, contact Francesca Giannoni-Crystal

 

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