This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).

 

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C8-01-469

 

 

Domtar Inc.,

Appellant,

 

vs.

 

Niagara Fire Insurance Company, et al.,

Respondents,

 

Allstate Insurance Company of Canada,

Respondent,

 

American Home Assurance Company, et al.,

Respondents,

 

Chubb Insurance Company of Canada, et al.,

Respondents,

 

Columbia Casualty Company,

Respondent,

 

Zurich Insurance Company,

Respondent,

 

World Auxiliary Insurance Corporation Limited, et al.,

Respondents.

 

 

Filed August 28, 2001

Affirmed

Schumacher, Judge

 

Ramsey County District Court

File No. C5984656

 

Douglas L. Skor, Daniel L. Scott, Larson King, LLP, 1500 Landmark Towers, 345 St. Peter Street, St. Paul, MN 55102-1211; and

 

Paul Anton Zevnik, Zevnik Horton, LLP, 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Ninth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20004 (for appellant)

 

Thomas A. Pearson, Cronan, Pearson & Quinlivan, 1400 Foshay Tower, 821 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondents Niagara Fire Insurance Company et al.)

 

Joseph W. Anthony, Vincent D. Louwagie, Nathan P. Brenna, Anthony Ostlund & Baer, P.A., 3750 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent Allstate Insurance Company of Canada)

 

Stephen J. Foley, Foley & Mansfield, 1108 Nicollet Mall, 200 Lafayette Building, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (for respondents American Home Assurance Company et al.)

 

John M. Anderson, Christopher R. Morris, Bassford Lockhart Truesdell & Briggs, 3550 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondents Chubb Insurance Company of Canada et al.)

 

Stacy A. Broman, Meagher & Geer, LLP, 4200 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent Columbia Casualty Company)

 

Ruth S. Marcott, Felhaber, Larson, Fenlon & Vogt, 601 Second Avenue South, Suite 4200, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent Zurich Insurance Company)

 

Thomas P. Kane, Hinshaw & Culbertson, 3100 Piper Jaffray Tower, 222 South Ninth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402; and

 

Jennifer Ries, Lord Bissell & Brook, 115 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60603 (for respondents World Auxiliary Insurance Corporation Limited et al.)

 

 

Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Stoneburner, Judge, and Parker, Judge.*


U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N

SCHUMACHER, ROBERT H., Judge

Appellant Domtar Inc. challenges dismissal of its case for lack of personal jurisdiction of this insurance coverage action against respondent Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. We affirm.

FACTS

Domtar is a Canadian corporation with its principal place of business in Montreal, Quebec. Allstate Canada is a Canadian corporation with a principal place of business in Markham, Ontario. Allstate Canada issued general liability insurance policies providing coverage to Domtar effective from 1977 to 1981. The policies covered property damage and bodily injury from accidents and occurrences sustained anywhere.

In prior litigation, Domtar filed a suit related to losses that have been and will be incurred by Domtar in connection with a former coal tar processing plant at a Minnesota superfund site. Allstate Canada and certain other defendants were dismissed from that suit. That case subsequently went to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which held that defendant Canadian General's activities within Minnesota were insufficient to confer general jurisdiction, but that there was specific personal jurisdiction over Canadian General. See Domtar, Inc. v. Niagara Fire Ins. Co., 533 N.W.2d 25, 30-34 (Minn. 1995) (Domtar I).

The present lawsuit was commenced by Domtar in May 1998 and seeks insurance coverage and reimbursement from Domtar's liability insurers, including Allstate Canada, for money expended under legal compulsion from federal, provincial, and state authorities and private parties. The lawsuits and sites for which Domtar seeks coverage are located in Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, and Canada. Allstate Canada's answer included the affirmative defense that Domtar's claims against Allstate Canada are barred for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Allstate Canada moved for dismissal due to lack of personal jurisdiction. Domtar filed its opposition to Allstate Canada's motion and served Allstate Canada with written discovery requests. Following a hearing, the district court granted Allstate Canada's motion for dismissal. Judgment was entered pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 54.02, from which Domtar appeals.

D E C I S I O N

The existence of jurisdiction is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. Stanek v. A.P.I., Inc., 474 N.W.2d 829, 832 (Minn. App. 1991), review denied (Minn. Oct. 31, 1991). On review of a pretrial order considering personal jurisdiction, plaintiff's allegations and evidence supporting jurisdiction must be taken as true. Hardrives, Inc. v. City of LaCrosse, 307 Minn. 290, 293, 240 N.W.2d 814, 816 (1976); TRWL Fin. Establishment v. Select Int'l, 527 N.W.2d 573, 575 (Minn. App. 1995). In doubtful cases, the court should resolve the jurisdictional question in favor of retention of jurisdiction. Hardrives, Inc., 307 Minn. at 296, 240 N.W.2d at 818.

A Minnesota court may assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation under Minnesota's long-arm statute. Minn. Stat. 543.19, subd. 1 (1998). "If the personal jurisdiction requirements of the federal constitution are met, the requirements of the long-arm statute will necessarily be met also." Valspar Corp. v. Lukken Color Corp., 495 N.W.2d 408, 411 (Minn. 1992).

"The Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limits the power of a state court to exert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant." Domtar, Inc. v. Niagara Fire Ins. Co., 533 N.W.2d 25, 30 (Minn. 1995) (Domtar I). To satisfy federal due process, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant purposefully established "minimum contacts" in the forum state. Id. (citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474, 105 S. Ct. 2174, 2183 (1985) (quotation omitted)). In determining the existence of minimum contacts, courts consider: (1) the quantity of contacts; (2) the nature and quality of the contacts; (3) the relationship between the cause of action and the contacts; (4) the state's interest in providing a forum; and (5) the convenience of the parties. Dent-Air, Inc. v. Beech Mountain Air Serv., 332 N.W.2d 904, 907 (Minn. 1983). The contacts must be such that the assertion of jurisdiction comports with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Domtar I, 533 N.W.2d at 29 (quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S. Ct. 154, 158 (1945) (quotation omitted)).

Personal jurisdiction may be general or specific. General jurisdiction exists when the defendant has "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum state, such that the defendant could reasonably expect to be subject to jurisdiction in the forum for proceedings unrelated to its contacts. Valspar, 495 N.W.2d at 411; Behm v. John Nuveen & Co., 555 N.W.2d 301, 306 (Minn. App. 1996) (quotation omitted). Specific jurisdiction exists when the plaintiff's claim arises from the defendant's contacts with the forum state. Behm, 555 N.W.2d at 306.

In this case, the district court found no continuous and systematic activity to support general jurisdiction. Regarding minimum contacts, the district court explained that Allstate Canada

is not licensed to do business in Minnesota, does not operate an office in Minnesota, none of the alleged sites are in Minnesota, none of the witnesses are in Minnesota and none of the parties are domiciled in Minnesota. It does not have bank accounts, offices or own property here. The relevant policies were applied for, negotiated and delivered in Canada.

 

Nothing in the record suggests that these findings are erroneous. In Domtar I, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that a comparable defendant, Canadian General, was not subject to general jurisdiction in Minnesota, despite having insured Domtar against liabilities in Minnesota and having been involved in unrelated litigation in Minnesota, because there was no continuous and systematic activity. 533 N.W.2d at 30.

Regarding specific personal jurisdiction, the district court noted that Domtar's

arguments regarding specific personal jurisdiction ignore the fact that Allstate Canada has no contacts with Minnesota that are related in any way to the fifty plus sites involved in this case.

 

The district court thus distinguished Domtar I, in which the Minnesota Supreme Court found specific personal jurisdiction over Canadian General. The supreme court in Domtar I explained that Canadian General

constructively knew that Domtar had formerly operated a tar manufacturing facility in Duluth. By deciding to issue a general liability policy allegedly insuring Domtar against liability arising from its Duluth tar manufacturing operation, Canadian General purposefully established the required minimum contacts with Minnesota. Furthermore, Minnesota is the situs of the accident creating liability that Canadian General purportedly agreed to defend Domtar against.

 

533 N.W.2d at 33-34. Specific personal jurisdiction over Canadian General comported with the traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice because the alleged environmental contamination occurred in Minnesota. Id. at 34-35. The court explained that "this case is unlike the typical case involving two nonresidents because the alleged environmental contamination occurred in Minnesota." Id. at 34. In this case, none of the many sites at issue are in Minnesota. Consequently, there is no specific personal jurisdiction over Allstate Canada.

Domtar also argues that the district court erred in dismissing Allstate Canada in light of Allstate Canada's allegedly inadequate response to Domtar's discovery requests. "As with other discovery issues, the court has broad discretion in granting jurisdictional discovery." Behm v. John Nuveen & Co., Inc., 555 N.W.2d 301, 305 (Minn. App. 1996) (citations omitted). Discovery is unnecessary where it is unlikely to lead to facts establishing jurisdiction. Id. Because none of the subject sites are in Minnesota, it is unlikely that further discovery would lead to facts establishing specific jurisdiction. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its broad discretion over jurisdictional discovery.

Affirmed.



* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, 10.