United States District Court, D. Maryland
KERALINK INTERNATIONAL, INC.
STRADIS HEALTHCARE, LLC
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending before the court is a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction filed by third-party defendant Kareway
Product, Inc. ("Kareway"). This dispute arises
between KeraLink International, Inc. ("KeraLink"),
a Maryland corporation and Stradis Healthcare, LLC
("Stradis"), a Georgia corporation. After suit was
initiated, Stradis moved to join Kareway, a California
corporation, as a third-party defendant. Stradis also moved
to join Insource, Inc. ("Insource") and Geri-Care
Pharmaceuticals Corporation ("Geri-Care") as
third-party defendants. Neither Insource nor Geri-Care joined
Kareway in this motion to dismiss. For the reasons outlined
below, Kareway's motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction will be granted. The issues have been briefed
and no oral argument is necessary. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2018).
a national network of eye banks, is headquartered in
Baltimore, Maryland. (Third-party Compl. ¶¶ 1, 12,
ECF No. 10). KeraLink recovers and distributes ocular tissue
for use in corneal transplants. (Id. ¶ 14).
KeraLink purchases the medical supplies it needs to preserve
and distribute ocular tissue from various vendors.
(Id. ¶ 15). Stradis, one of KeraLink's
vendors, provides KeraLink with surgical packs. (Id.
¶ 16). These packs contain all the supplies recipient
hospitals and physicians need to perform a corneal
transplant. (Id. ¶ 15).
litigation arises from the inclusion of contaminated sterile
eye wash ("GeriCare Eye Wash") in sterile surgical
packs KeraLink purchased from Stradis. (Id.
¶¶ 18-21). On October 27, 2017, the Eye Bank
Association of America notified its members that batches of
GeriCare Eye Wash may be contaminated by bacteria.
(Id. ¶ 20). Federal regulations prohibit the
use of contaminated ocular tissue. (Id. ¶ 21).
KeraLink, therefore, quarantined ocular tissue that had been
recovered using GeriCare Eye Wash. (Id.). All told,
KeraLink could not use 61 live-cell tissues and 860 long-term
tissues that had been exposed to GeriCare Eye Wash.
(Id. ¶ 22). KeraLink also could not use 182
sterile surgical packs that it had previously purchased from
Stradis that contained GeriCare Eye Wash. (Id.
¶ 23). In total, KeraLink alleges that it has sustained
no less than $600, 000.00 in damages. (Id. ¶
January 29, 2018, KeraLink learned that Kareway, a California
corporation, was the source of the affected GeriCare Eye
Wash. (Id. ¶¶ 3,
KeraLink brought a claim against Stradis. (Id.
¶ 25; ECF No. 1). Stradis subsequently sought to join
Kareway as a third-party defendant. (ECF No. 10).
personal jurisdiction is properly challenged under Rule
12(b)(2), the jurisdictional question is to be resolved by
the judge, with the burden on the plaintiff ultimately to
prove grounds for jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence." Carefirst of Maryland, Inc. v. Carefirst
Pregnancy Centers, Inc., 334 F.3d 390, 396 (4th Cir.
2003) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Akzo, N. V., 2
F.3d 56, 59-60 (4th Cir. 1993)). If the court resolves the
personal jurisdiction question-without an evidentiary
hearing, "the plaintiff need only make a prima facie
showing of personal jurisdiction." Carefirst,
334 F.3d at 396 (citing Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d
673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989)). In assessing whether the plaintiff
has carried this burden, the court resolves all disputed
facts and reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor.
Carefirst, 334 F.3d at 396 (citing Mylan
Labs., 2 F.3d at 60).
may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant if the state's long-arm statute grants
jurisdiction and the exercise of jurisdiction would not
contravene the Due Process Clause. Carefirst, 334
F.3d at 396. Maryland's long-arm statute is coextensive
with "the limits of personal jurisdiction set by the due
process clause of the Constitution." Id. The
court's statutory inquiry therefore merges with the
court's analysis of the Due Process Clause. Id.
Because the court finds that the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over Kareway would offend the Due Process
Clause, the court need not resolve whether § 6-103(b)(4)
of Maryland's long-arm statute would grant jurisdiction.
Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §
with the Due Process Clause, the court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant if the defendant
has sufficient "minimum contacts" with the forum so
that haling the defendant to court in the forum state
"does not offend traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). The standard for
the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction varies
based on whether the defendant's contacts with the forum
state are the genesis of the cause of action.
Carefirst, 334 F.3d at 397. If the suit arises out
of the defendant's contacts with the forum state, the
court may exercise specific jurisdiction. Id. To
determine whether specific jurisdiction exists, the court
considers: "(1) the extent to which the defendant
purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting
activities in the forum state; (2) whether the plaintiffs
claims [arose] out of those activities; and (3) whether the
exercise of personal jurisdiction is constitutionally
reasonable," Universal Leather, LLC v. Koro AR,
S.A., 773 F.3d 553, 559 (4th Cir. 2014) (citing Tire
Eng'g v. Shandong Linglong Rubber Co., 682 F.3d 292,
301-02 (4th Cir. 2012)). If, however, the defendant's
contacts with the forum state do not give rise to the cause
of action, the plaintiff must show that the court has general
jurisdiction over the defendant. Id. General
jurisdiction is appropriate when the defendant's contacts
with the forum state are so "continuous
and-systematic" as to as to "render [the
nonresident defendant] essentially at home in the forum
State." Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 127
(2014) (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011)). The court considers
specific and general jurisdiction in turn.
makes three principal arguments in support of the court's
exercise of specific jurisdiction over Kareway. First,
Kareway designed GeriCare Eye Wash and placed it into the
stream of commerce with the intention or expectation that it
would reach Maryland. (Mem. P. & A. Opp'n
Kareway's Mot. Dismiss ["Stradis's
Opp'n"] at 2, 5-6, ECF No. 23). Second, Kareway
sells many of its products through national retailers, such
as Amazon and Wal-Mart, that have a presence in Maryland.
(Id. at 6-7). Third, Kareway's website is
available to Maryland customers. None of Stradis's
arguments are convincing. (Id.).
majority of the Supreme Court has yet to agree on the
circumstances in which a stream-of-commerce theory may
support specific jurisdiction. See J. McIntyre Mach., Ltd
v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873 (2011) (no controlling
opinion); ALS Scan, Inc. v. Digital Service Consultants,
Inc., 293 F.3d 707, 713 (4th Cir. 2002). But it is clear
that a court may only exercise specific jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant who "purposely availed itself of
the privilege of conducting activities within the forum
State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its
laws." Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253
(1958); see McIntyre, 564 U.S. at 877 (plurality
opinion) (citing Hanson, 357 U.S. at 253); see
McIntyre, 564 US. at .889 (Breyer, J., concurring in
judgment). Merely placing a product into the stream of
commerce, even if it is foreseeable that the product will end
up in the forum state, is not enough. See McIntyre,
564 U.S. at 877 (plurality opinion); id at 888-89
(Breyer, J., concurring in judgment); see also ESAB
Group, Inc. v. Zurich Ins. PLC, 685 F.3d 376, 392 (4th
has not sufficiently alleged that Kareway targeted Maryland
or that "something more" than mere foreseeability
evidenced Kareway's purposeful availment of the privilege
of conducting business in Maryland. McIntyre, 564
U.S. at 882, 889. Stradis does not contest that GeriCare Eye
Wash was both produced and sold to Stradis outside of
Maryland. (Mem. P. & A. Supp. Kareway's Mot.
["Kareway's Mot"] at 3, ECF No. 19-1; Hong Aff.
¶¶ 4-6, ECF No. 19-2). In fact, Stradis has not
contested Kareway's assertion that Kareway sold the
GeriCare Eye Wash to Geri-Care in New York, which then sold
the eye wash to Stradis. (Hong Aff. ¶¶ 4-6). And,
Stradis has presented no evidence that Kareway specifically
directed the sale of GeriCare Eye Wash to Maryland consumers.
Instead, Stradis's arguments focus predominately on the
sale of other Kareway products-none of which are related to
the current litigation-within Maryland. (Stradis's
Opp'n at 6-7). Specific jurisdiction exists only when the
litigation arises out of defendant's contacts with the
forum, state. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court
ofCalifornia,137 S.Ct. 1773, 1781 (2017)
(holding that when there is no connection between
defendant's contact with the forum state and the
underlying controversy, specific jurisdiction does ...