New York Court Grants Pre-Answer Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction in Aviation Matter

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of New York, Dutchess County, held that the mere shipment of products into the State of New York at plaintiff-customer’s sole direction was an insufficient basis upon which to confer personal jurisdiction over Gibson Aviation, a company headquartered in Oklahoma.
The owner and pilot of a Cessna U206G filed suit in New York against multiple defendants following a forced landing due to total loss of engine power near Louisa, Virginia. Initial investigations revealed that plaintiff, who is a Mississippi resident, purchased aircraft parts from Gibson via telephone and directed Gibson to ship the parts to another defendant located in LaGrangeville, New York. Gibson filed a pre-answer motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction.

In opposition to Gibson’s motion, plaintiff argued that New York is a “single transaction” state; thus, a single shipment to New York satisfies the “transacting business” requirement of New York’s long-arm statute (CPLR § 302(a)(1)). Plaintiff also claimed that Gibson purposefully availed itself of the privileges of conducting business in New York by operating a website that allows persons in New York to contract for aircraft engine-related components.
The court rejected both arguments, noting that “an internet presence is not enough, particularly [where the] website does not provide for direct purchase.” The court also declined plaintiff’s request for jurisdictional discovery.

While the decision does not cite federal case law, it is evident that its rationale embraces the United States Supreme Court’s preference for predictability and constitutional limitations on the exercise of specific jurisdiction.

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