Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Venuti v. Continental Motors Inc.

Court of Appeals of Utah

January 5, 2018

Keri Venuti, Dana Venuti, and Corinne Rubio, Appellees,
Continental Motors Inc., Appellant.

         Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Bruce C. Lubeck No. 160902043

          Heidi G. Goebel, Timothy J. Curtis, Sherri R. Ginger, and Timothy A. Heisterhagen, Attorneys for Appellant

          Craig G. Adamson, Joelle S. Kesler, and Cynthia M. Devers, Attorneys for Appellees

          Judge Diana Hagen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Kate A. Toomey concurred.


          HAGEN, JUDGE

         ¶1 This lawsuit stems from a deadly helicopter crash in Utah allegedly caused by a defective engine part manufactured by Continental Motors, Inc. (CMI). CMI, a nonresident corporation, moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion, concluding that CMI had sufficient minimum contacts with Utah to support specific jurisdiction. Because CMI's minimum contacts with Utah are not suit-related, we reverse.


         ¶2 Robin Venuti and Albert Rubio were killed in a helicopter crash near Green River, Utah, on April 6, 2014. The guardians of each victim's children and the personal representatives of their estates (collectively, Plaintiffs) sued several defendants, including CMI, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Mobile, Alabama. Plaintiffs alleged that the crash was caused by, among other things, a defective engine part manufactured by CMI. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed that a CMI magneto[1] used in the helicopter's ignition system caused the engine to lose power during flight.

         ¶3 Nothing in the record suggests that CMI sold the allegedly defective magneto-or any other magneto-in Utah. While the record does not identify the original purchaser, it does indicate that the magneto was acquired at some point by Aircraft Electrical, a California company. In 2001, Aircraft Electrical overhauled the magneto at its California facility and then transferred it to Nevada Aircraft, a Nevada company. Nevada Aircraft overhauled the helicopter's engine at its facility in Nevada, installing the magneto overhauled by Aircraft Electrical. The magneto appears to have entered Utah when Nevada Aircraft sold the engine to Upper Limit Aviation, a Utah company.

         ¶4 CMI filed a motion to dismiss the claims against it for lack of personal jurisdiction. In support of its motion, CMI filed an affidavit from its chief financial officer stating that CMI is not licensed to do business in Utah and maintains no "offices, places of business, post office boxes[, ] or telephone listings in Utah." CMI does not have "a registered agent for service of process in Utah, " nor does it "have any warehouses, repair stations, agents, dealers, or other sales representatives located in Utah." In addition, CMI has "no real estate, bank accounts, or other interests in property in Utah" and "did not incur any obligation to pay, and has not paid, income taxes in Utah." CMI also represented that it "has not conducted any regular ongoing advertising, solicitation, marketing, or other sales promotions directed toward residents of Utah."

         ¶5 In response, Plaintiffs asserted that CMI should be subject to the court's jurisdiction because it "regularly does business in Utah" and "CMI's business in this State caused this accident in Utah." Among CMI's business activities in Utah, Plaintiffs cited its collection of customer demographic information for marketing purposes, its "ongoing business relationship" with eight fixed-base operators[2] in Utah, and CMI's advertisements in nationally circulated publications. Plaintiffs also alleged that CMI ships parts and literature into Utah, offers services to Utah residents, and receives "money from those businesses in this State who order goods, services[, ] and parts." Plaintiffs asserted that they had established a prima facie showing of jurisdiction on the affidavits but requested discovery if the court determined otherwise.

         ¶6 After considering the briefs and oral arguments, the district court denied the motion to dismiss. Noting that there was no dispute that the court lacked general personal jurisdiction over CMI, it focused instead on the question of whether CMI was subject to the court's specific personal jurisdiction for this particular case. The court ruled that Plaintiffs had made a prima facie showing of specific jurisdiction because CMI transacts business in Utah and, "[w]hile those contacts may not give rise to the cause of action, they do relate to the cause of action alleged herein." Furthermore, the court found that requiring CMI "to respond in a Utah court does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice, " because CMI directed its business to Utah and Plaintiffs have a strong interest in adjudicating the dispute in Utah. CMI filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the court's denial of its motion to dismiss.


         ¶7 At issue in this case is whether Plaintiffs made a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction over CMI. "Where a pretrial jurisdictional decision has been made on documentary evidence only, an appeal from that decision presents only legal questions that are reviewed for correctness." Arguello v. Industrial Woodworking Mach. Co., 838 P.2d 1120, 1121 (Utah 1992), modified on other grounds by State ex rel. W.A., 2002 UT 127, 63 P.3d 607. The district court's decision is "reviewed de novo, giving no ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.