Fitzpatrick & Hunt Obtains Dismissal for B/E Aerospace in Seat Malfunction Lawsuit

The U.S. District Court for California granted B/E Aerospace’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction regarding an alleged aircraft business class seat malfunction.

A passenger on an Air France flight filed a lawsuit against Air France and B/E Aerospace, Inc., the alleged manufacturer of the business class seats on the aircraft, for personal injuries from an alleged seat malfunction. The lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the Central District of California. B/E Aerospace filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The Court declined to exercise general jurisdiction over B/E Aerospace, because neither its state of incorporation nor principal place of business are in California, finding that B/E Aerospace’s operation of facilities in California, advertisements for hiring in California, and possession of subsidiaries in California did not present the “exceptional case” sufficient to subject it to general jurisdiction, under the standard established by the Supreme Court in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746, 761 n.19 (2014).

Additionally, the Court declined to exercise specific jurisdiction over B/E Aerospace because the seat that allegedly injured the Plaintiff lacked sufficient ties to California and Plaintiff’s claims did not relate to B/E Aerospace’s California activities. B/E Aerospace did not design or manufacture the type of seats in California and did not deliver such seats to California.

While the Plaintiff alleged that B/E Aerospace’s operation of “commercial aircraft products” facilities in California evidenced a connection to the forum state, the Court found that “B/E Aerospace’s design, manufacture, or sale of other products in California has no impact on this analysis.”

The Plaintiff also argued the stream of commerce theory in support of general and specific jurisdiction. The Court disagreed, finding that whether or not B/E Aerospace knew or should have known that its aircraft seats might be used on airplanes servicing Los Angeles was irrelevant to the general jurisdiction analysis and was insufficient to establish purposeful benefit for purposes of specific jurisdiction.

Furthermore, the Court declined the Plaintiff’s request to conduct jurisdictional discovery, finding that the majority of Plaintiff’s proposed discovery topics were irrelevant and obviated by B/E Aerospace’s clear assertions that its development and manufacture of the seat at issue did not occur in California.

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Fitzpatrick & Hunt, Pagano, Aubert, LLP serves clients in diverse areas, such as aviation and aerospace; general products liability; premises/construction/labor law; cyber security; insurance coverage; entertainment/media and employment law. Our offices are based in New York City; White Plains, New York; Los Angeles; and New Jersey.