United States District Court, D. Idaho
CONESTOGA WAGON CO. LLC, Plaintiff,
PLAINSCRAFT, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Winmill U.S. District Court Judge
the Court is Defendant, PlainsCraft's Motion to Dismiss
for Lack of Jurisdiction (Dkt. 12) and Plaintiff, Conestoga
Wagon Co.'s Motion for Leave to Conduct Jurisdictional
Discovery (Dkt. 19). The motions are fully briefed and at
issue. For the reasons discussed below the Court will grant
Conestoga's motion to conduct jurisdictional discovery
and deny PlainsCraft's motion to dismiss without
Wagon Co. is a Wyoming company with its principal place of
business in Bloomington, Idaho. Conestoga manufactures luxury
covered camping wagons, which it sells to campgrounds and
other customers across the United States. Compl.
¶ 10. PlainsCraft is a Kansas company that also
manufactures luxury camping wagons.
claims that PlainsCraft's founder, Dennis Steinman
contacted Conestoga staff pretending to be a potential buyer
in order to obtain details about Conestoga's product,
manufacturing, and pricing, with the intention of using that
information to start his own business building luxury camping
wagons. Compl. ¶¶ 48-51. Conestoga claims
that Steinman started his own business building and marketing
camping wagons, which are “confusingly similar”
in design to Conestoga's wagons. Id.
¶¶ 53-58. Conestoga claims that PlainsCraft has
infringed Conestoga's trademarks and trade dress, and
this infringement constitutes unfair competition.
Id. ¶¶ 72, 94.
moves to dismiss Conestoga's complaint, arguing that it
has insufficient contacts with Idaho to confer personal
jurisdiction on Idaho courts over PlainsCraft. Specifically,
PlainsCraft contends that Steinman's contacts with
Conestoga staff occurred prior to the formation of
PlainsCraft, and as such, cannot be imputed to PlainsCraft
for purposes of personal jurisdiction. Further, PlainsCraft
contends that it does not engage in targeted marketing
efforts in Idaho, has never sold any products to an Idaho
resident, has never shipped any products to Idaho, and
generally has no other connections to Idaho. Def.'s
Mem. at 9, Dkt. 12-1.
filed a motion to conduct jurisdictional discovery to
determine the extent and nature of Steinman's
relationship to PlainsCraft and to confirm that
PlainsCraft's assertions that it has no other contacts
with Idaho are true. Pl.'s Mem. at 3-4, Dkt. 20.
early stage of the proceedings, a plaintiff need only
establish a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction to
survive a motion to dismiss. See Caruth v. International
Psychoanalytical Ass'n, 59 F.3d 126, 128 (9th
Cir.1995). Where discovery “might well demonstrate
facts sufficient to constitute a basis for jurisdiction,
” a district court abuses its discretion if it denies
an opportunity for such discovery. Harris Rutsky &
Co. Ins. Services, Inc. v. Bell & Clements, Ltd.,
328 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003).
has at least a colorable claim that discovery might yield
facts sufficient to establish a prima facie case of personal
jurisdiction over PlainsCraft. Pre-incorporation contacts of
an individual can be attributed to the corporation for the
purposes of analyzing personal jurisdiction. See
Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Yanoor Corp., 178 F.Supp.2d
562, 568 (M.D. N.C. 2001). Typically, pre-incorporation
activity involves some type of contractual agreement. See
Chartrand v. Barney's Club, Inc., 380 F.2d 97, 101
(9th Cir. 1967). However, if as alleged, Steinman is
PlainsCraft's sole organizer and PlainsCraft relied on
the designs acquired by Steinman prior to its incorporation,
then Steinman's conduct may be attributed to PlainsCraft
for purposes of jurisdiction.
Conestoga seeks to confirm PlainsCraft's claims that it
had no other contacts with Idaho. PlainsCraft operates a
passive website which is available nationally; further, it is
not disputed that PlainsCraft markets its products outside of
Kansas. If PlainsCraft had contacts with Idaho or an Idaho
resident this may support jurisdiction.
rendering any opinion on the merits of the personal
jurisdiction issue, the Court finds that Conestoga has at
least made a colorable claim that requires jurisdictional
discovery before the personal jurisdiction issue can be
resolved. The Court will therefore grant the motion for leave
to conduct jurisdictional discovery and give Conestoga 90
days to complete discovery. The Court will deny the motion to
dismiss - not on the merits, but for the pragmatic reason
that the motion needs to be re-filed (if necessary) after the
jurisdictional discovery is completed so that it can contain
a full analysis of that evidence.
regard to the discovery on the personal jurisdiction issue,
the discovery will be limited to: (1) The nature and extent
of Steinman's relationship to PlainsCraft, (2)
Steinman's and PlainsCraft's knowledge of Conestoga,
Conestoga's camping wagon, Conestoga's location in
Idaho, and possible damage to Conestoga by PlainsCraft's
or Steinman's activities, and (3) the details of
PlainsCraft's contacts with Idaho (if any). The parties
shall draft a detailed Discovery Plan concerning how they
will conduct this discovery and file it with the Court ...