On 06/16/2020 KAREN SCHWARTZ filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against TESS POBLETE. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are KRISTIN S. ESCALANTE and SERENA R. MURILLO. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
KRISTIN S. ESCALANTE
SERENA R. MURILLO
TAGUD STEPHEN R.
RIBOCH HOLDINGS INTERNATIONAL LLC. A CALIFORNIA COMPANY
HOMEAWAY.COM INC. A DELAWARE CORPORATION
RIBOCH HOLDINGS INTERNATIONAL LLC
GIRARDI JOHN A
GIRARDI JOHN ALBERT ESQ.
COHEN ROBERT M.
GIRARDI JOHN A.
RIDDELL MICHAEL J.
DUCEY MITCHELL F.
AROUH KIMBERLY ESQ.
MASSERMAN TERRI LYNN ESQ.
REDEN JUSTIN GREGORY ESQ.
REDEN JUSTIN G.
MASSERMAN TERRI L.
SABAITIS FRANK T
3/2/2021: Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service
2/19/2021: Request for Dismissal
2/22/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF HEARING TAKEN OFF CALENDAR
2/22/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)
2/23/2021: Substitution of Attorney
1/21/2021: Notice - NOTICE AMENDED NOTICE OF RESCHEDULED HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE
12/22/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 12/22/2020
12/24/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW)
12/24/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW) OF 12/24/2020
8/25/2020: Memorandum of Points & Authorities
8/25/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION OF L. HUBERMAN IN SUPPORT OF MOTION
8/25/2020: Notice of Motion
6/30/2020: Proof of Service by Substituted Service
6/30/2020: Proof of Service by Substituted Service
6/24/2020: PI General Order
6/16/2020: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT
6/16/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet
Hearing12/13/2021 at 09:00 AM in Department 34 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury TrialRead MoreRead Less
Hearing11/30/2021 at 09:00 AM in Department 34 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Change of Firm Name; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service; Filed by Homeaway.com, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 34; Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons - Not Held - Vacated by CourtRead MoreRead Less
DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by Riboch Holdings International, LLC (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Docketat 10:07 AM in Department 34; Nunc Pro Tunc OrderRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 34; Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons (for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction By Specially Appearing Defendant Homeaway.Com, Inc.) - Not Held - Continued - StipulationRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Nunc Pro Tunc Order)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketPI General Order; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([PI General Order], Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Karen Schwartz (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: 20STCV22663 Hearing Date: March 01, 2021 Dept: 34
SUBJECT: Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Complaint for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
Moving Party: Specially-Appearing Defendant Homeaway.com, Inc.
Resp. Party: Plaintiff Karen Schwartz
The motion to quash service of summons and complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction is GRANTED.
Specially-Appearing Defendant’s evidentiary objections are SUSTAINED.
This action arises out of allegations that “on September 17, 2019, Plaintiff Karen Schwartz was severely injured, suffering a severe fracture to her right lower leg, after falling down the improperly maintained stairs of the rental property she was staying in at 6627 Emmet Terrace, Los Angeles, CA 90068, . . . which, . . . is owned, leased, operated, maintained, and controlled by Defendant Tess Poblete, Defendant Stephen R. Tagud, Defendant Riboch Holdings international, LLC, and Defendant Homeaway.com, Inc.” (Complaint, ¶ 1.)
On June 16, 2020, Plaintiff Karen Schwartz commenced this action against Defendants Tess Poblete, Stephen R. Tagud, Riboch Holdings, LLC, and Homeaway.com, Inc. for (1) negligence; (2) negligence per se; and (3) premises liability.
On August 25, 2020, Specially-Appearing Defendant Homeaway.com, Inc. (“Specially-Appearing Defendant”) filed the instant motion to quash service of summons and complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.
I. Motion to Quash Service of Summons
A. Evidentiary Objections
The Court rules as indicated on specially-appearing Defendant’s evidentiary objections to the declaration of Brianna Y. Franco:
B. Legal Standard
“A defendant, on or before the last day of his or her time to plead or within any further time that the court may for good cause allow, may serve and file a notice of motion for one or more of the following purposes: (1) To quash service of summons on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the court over him or her.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 418.10, subd. (a).)
In California, courts are authorized to “exercise jurisdiction over parties on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of [California] or the United States.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 410.10.) “Personal jurisdiction may be either general or specific.” (Vons Companies, Inc. v. Seabest Foods, Inc. (1996) 14 Cal.4th 434, 445.) The extent to which a California court may exercise jurisdiction over a defendant depends on the nature and quality of that defendant’s contacts with the state.
Nonresident defendants whose commercial activities impact California on a substantial, continuous, and systematic basis are subject to general jurisdiction in California. (See Vons Companies, 14 Cal.4th at pp. 445-446.) However, if the defendant’s activities in California are insufficient to justify the exercise of general jurisdiction over him or her, then the cause of action must arise out of an act done or transaction consummated in the forum such that the defendant may
be subject to specific jurisdiction. (Cornelison v. Chaney (1976) 16 Cal.3d 143, 147-148.)
A plaintiff “bears the burden of proof by a preponderance of evidence to demonstrate the defendant has sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state to justify jurisdiction.” (Thomson v. Anderson (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 258, 266.) The Court must assess each defendant’s contacts with the forum state individually. (Anglo Irish Bank, PLC v. Superior Court (Brar) (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 969, 978.)
Specially-Appearing Defendant moves to quash the service of summons and complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction “on the grounds that this court lacks personal jurisdiction over HomeAway because it is not present and does not reside in the State of California, because there are insufficient contacts between HomeAway and the State of California to properly subject it to the jurisdiction of California’s courts, and because there are no viable claims against HomeAway.” (Notice of Motion, pp. 1:24-2:5.)
1. Procedural Issue
“A plaintiff is generally entitled to conduct discovery with regard to a jurisdictional issue before a court rules on a motion to quash.” (Goehring v. Superior Court (Bernier) (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 894, 911.) “In order to prevail on a motion for a continuance for jurisdictional discovery, the plaintiff should demonstrate that discovery is likely to lead to the production of evidence of facts establishing jurisdiction.” (In re Auto. Antitrust Cases I & II (2005) 135 Cal. App. 4th 100, 127.)
In opposition, Plaintiff argues that “should the court be inclined to grant HomeAway’s motion, due to the discovery games that HomeAway has engaged in, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court continue this motion to quash hearing ninety (90) days so that Plaintiff can conduct the jurisdictional discovery that it [sic] is entitled to.” (Opp., p. 15:1-4.) Plaintiff asserts that “jurisdictional discovery is likely to lead to the production of evidence of facts establishing jurisdiction here.” (Id. at p. 14:22-23, citing Franco Decl., ¶ 11.) Plaintiff maintains that she “served jurisdictional interrogatories on HomeAway on October 27, 2020 and HomeAway served deficient responses to these interrogatories on November 30, 2020.” (Id. at p. 14:23-25, citing Franco Decl., ¶¶ 9-10, Exs. 8-9.) Plaintiff contends that “Defendant served straight objections with no substantive responses to all questions except for one.” (Id. at p. 14:25-26, citing Franco Decl., ¶¶ 9-10, Exs. 8-9.) Plaintiff asserts that “as a result of the close proximity of Plaintiff’s deadline to oppose this motion, Plaintiff did not have enough time to meet and confer regarding these responses.” (Id. at pp. 14:26-15:1, citing Franco Decl., ¶ 11.)
In reply, Specially-Appearing Defendant first maintains that “Plaintiff had ample opportunity, and did in fact, serve jurisdictional discovery requests consisting of eight interrogatories which . . . were not related to the jurisdictional issues before this Court.” (Reply, p. 9:14-16.) Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that it “served timely responses which would have allowed five days for Plaintiff to meet and confer, utilize those responses in her Opposition, or otherwise seek Court intervention—but Plaintiff declined to take any action.” (Id. at p. 9:16-18.) Specially-Appearing Defendant asserts that “for failure to act, equity requires Plaintiff should be denied any request for additional opportunities to conduct jurisdictional discovery requested in her Opposition.” (Id. at p. 9:18-20.) Second, Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that “Plaintiff altogether fails to meet her burden to establish a basis for additional jurisdictional discovery.” (Id. at p. 9:21-22.) Specially-Appearing Defendant contends that Plaintiff’s Opposition does not identify any additional jurisdictional discovery she would seek or why such discovery would be relevant.” (Id. at p. 9:24-25.) Further, Specially-Appearing Defendant asserts that “Plaintiff argues that HomeAway’s responses were deficient, but fails to identify any specific deficiencies or explain why she would be entitled to responses.” (Id. at p. 9:25-27.) Specially-Appearing Defendant also argues that “even if Plaintiff could identify new and appropriate jurisdictional discovery, she has failed to explain why she did not seek such information in her first set of jurisdictional discovery requests in the first place.” (Id. at p. 10:1-3.)
The Court finds that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that a second set of jurisdictional discovery is likely to lead to the production of evidence of facts establishing jurisdiction. (See In re Auto. Antitrust Cases I & II, supra, 135 Cal.App.4th at p. 127.) Plaintiff has not explained why the first set of jurisdictional responses were deficient or what facts a second set of jurisdictional discovery would produce.
The Court DENIES Plaintiff’s request for a continuance to conduct jurisdictional discovery.
2. General Jurisdiction
An individual is subject to general jurisdiction in the state of his or her domicile; while for a corporation it is where it is “fairly regarded as home.” (Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown (2011) 564 U.S. 915, 924 (Goodyear).) This is where the corporation’s contacts are “so ‘continuous and systematic’ as to render [the defendant] essentially at home in the forum state.” (Daimler AG v. Bauman (2014) 571 U.S. 117, 139 (Daimler AG).) In Goodyear and Daimler AG, for corporations, the U.S. Supreme Court held that general jurisdiction exists only in the defendant’s (1) state of incorporation and (2) principal place of business. (See Goodyear, supra, 564 U.S. at p. 294; Daimler AG, supra, 571 U.S at p. 137.)
Plaintiff alleges that “Jurisdiction and Venue are proper in the County of Los Angeles pursuant to§ 395(a) of the California Code of Civil Procedure. The accident giving rise to the injuries sustained by Plaintiff Schwartz occurred in the city and county of Los Angeles at 6627 Emmet Terrace, 90068.” (Complaint, ¶ 3.)
Plaintiff also alleges that “Defendant Homeaway.com, Inc. is, and at all relevant time was, a corporation organized and existing pursuant to the laws of the State of Delaware. Homeaway.com is wholly owned by HomeAway Holdings, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, which in turn is wholly owned by Expedia, Inc., a publicly held Delaware Corporation. Homeaway operates short-term rental websites that allow homeowners, both nationally and in California and Los Angeles, to advertise residential properties for rent and travelers to inquire and book these properties.” (Id. at ¶ 8.)
Specially-Appearing Defendant Homeaway.com, Inc. argues that it is not subject to general jurisdiction and it “is not ‘at home’ in California because:
· HomeAway is not incorporated in California (see Dec. Miers ¶ 4);
· HomeAway’s principal place of business is not in California (see id.);
· HomeAway does not maintain an office, address, or telephone number in California (id. ¶ 14);
· HomeAway does not maintain a bank account or investment account in California (id. ¶ 16);
· HomeAway does not own or lease any real property in California (id. ¶ 12);
· HomeAway’s headquarters are not located in California (id. ¶ 15);
· HomeAway does not regard California as its ‘home’ state. (Id. ¶ 17.).” (MPA, p. 11:10-19.)
Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that “Plaintiff’s vague and conclusory allegations that HomeAway operates short-term rental websites which ‘allow homeowners, both nationally and in California and Los Angeles, to advertise residential properties for rent,’ (see Compl. ¶ 8), are insufficient to establish that HomeAway is subject to general jurisdiction in California.” (Id. at p. 11:23-26.) Specially-Appearing Defendant maintains that “this conclusory allegation must be ignored because Plaintiff has the burden of coming forward with specific evidentiary facts . . . demonstrating not only that HomeAway conducts business in California, but also that such business is so ‘substantial’ that HomeAway is ‘at home’ in California.” (Id. at pp. 11:28-12:3.) Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that its “ownership and operation of generally accessible websites like HomeAway.com does not make it subject to the general jurisdiction in California.” (Id. at p. 12:4-6.) Overall, Specially-Appearing Defendant maintains that its “contact with California is insubstantial, passive, and below the threshold to consider it ‘at home’ and ‘physically present’ in California.” (Id. at p. 12:21-22.)
In opposition, Plaintiff argues “the Court has general jurisdiction over HomeAway because HomeAway has sufficient ‘minimum contacts’ with California.” (Opp., p. 7:22-23.) Plaintiff asserts that “HomeAway’s minimum contacts with California derive from the thousands of California homeowners, travelers, and California-bound travelers that HomeAway.com contracts with and collects payment from on a continuous basis.” (Id. at p. 8:26-28.) Plaintiff maintains that “HomeAway has substantial, continuous, and systematic activities within California—stemming primarily with its direct relationships and contracts with California residents, homeowners, and travelers to California—including the popular destination of Los Angeles.” (Id. at pp. 8:28-9:3.) Plaintiff argues that “when California homeowners (or as Homeaway calls them, ‘Members,’) sign up to list their homes on Homeaway.com (now Vrbo.com), there is a multi-step process which includes (1) Setting up the property by explaining what's unique, show off with photos, and set the right price,’ [sic] (2) Start earning: ‘We'll [Homeaway.com] help you collect payment, deduct a commission, and send you the balance, and (3) Get the perfect match: ‘We'll connect you with travelers from home and abroad.’” (Id. at p. 9:3-8, citing Franco Decl., ¶ 5, Ex. 4, emphasis in Opposition.)
Plaintiff maintains that Specially-Appearing Defendant “knowingly and purposefully interacts with, and collects payments from California members/citizens/homeowners and California renters/travelers alike.” (Id. at p. 9:10-11, citing Franco Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 4.) Plaintiff asserts that “this includes sending the balance to California residents (as is the case here,) in addition to connecting the California homeowner, fellow Defendants Tess Poblete and Stephen R. Tagud, with Plaintiff.” (Id. at p. 9:11-13.) Plaintiff argues that “HomeAway is not a passive online marketplace—it directly interacts with its California members and travelers/renters.” (Id. at p. 9:13-15, citing Franco Decl., ¶ 5, Ex. 4.)
In reply, Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that “Plaintiff fails to provide any evidence relevant to the correct legal standard, set forth above, tending to prove general jurisdiction exists over HomeAway, i.e.: (1) that HomeAway is incorporated in California; (2) that HomeAway has its principal place of business in California; or (3) that HomeAway is ‘at home’ in California.” (Reply, p. 4:6-9.) Specially-Appearing Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s reliance “solely on print outs [sic] from Vrbo.com in an attempt to establish that HomeAway ‘knowingly and purposefully interacts’ with California residents . . . is insufficient to meet Plaintiff’s burden in opposing a motion to quash for lack of personal jurisdiction.” (Id. at p. 4:10-13.) Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that first, “there is no evidentiary foundation in the record to establish these websites were, or ever have been, identical.” (Id. at 4:16-17.) Specially-Appearing Defendant contends that “these exhibits are not admissible and, even if they were, they would have no probative value.” (Id. at p. 4:17-18.)
Second, Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that “even if Plaintiff’s website printouts were deemed to be admissible as exhibits and accurately depicted HomeAway.com at the relevant time period, the contention Plaintiff seeks to establish (that HomeAway ‘knowingly and purposefully interacts’ with California residents through its website) is nevertheless substantively insufficient to establish general jurisdiction.” (Id. at p. 4:19-23.)
The Court finds that Plaintiff has not presented evidence to demonstrate that general jurisdiction of Specially-Appearing Defendant exists. Specially-Appearing Defendant’s state of incorporation and principal place of business are not in California; Plaintiff does not contend otherwise. (See Goodyear, supra, 564 U.S. at p. 294; Daimler AG, supra, 571 U.S at p. 137.) Plaintiff also fails to provide admissible evidence demonstrating that Specially-Appearing Defendant’s contacts with California are “so ‘continuous and systematic’ as to render [Specially-Appearing Defendant] essentially at home in” California.” (Daimler AG, supra, 571 U.S. at p. 139.) Plaintiff fails to properly authenticate the print-outs of the website. Plaintiff also fails to show that the evidence of the print-outs of the website accurately depict Specially-Appearing Defendant’s contacts with California at the relevant time period of the events giving rise to this action. The Court has sustained the objections to this evidence.
Further, from the evidence presented to the Court, general jurisdiction of Specially-Appearing Defendant does not exist because Specially-Appearing Defendant’s state of incorporation is Delaware and its principal place of business is in Texas. (Miers Decl., ¶¶ 5, 13-17; see Goodyear, supra, 564 U.S. at p. 294; Daimler AG, supra, 571 U.S at p. 137.) Therefore, the Court does not have general jurisdiction over Specially-Appearing Defendant.
3. Specific Jurisdiction
The California Supreme Court has held that three requirements must be met before specific jurisdiction may be exercised: (a) defendant purposefully availed himself of the forum benefits, (b) the controversy is related to or arises from defendant’s contacts with California, and (c) the assertion of jurisdiction would comport with fair play and substantial justice. (Pavlovich v. Sup. Ct. (2002) 29 Cal.4th 262, 269.) “A plaintiff opposing a defendant’s motion to quash service has the burden of establishing factor Nos. (1) (the defendant’s purposeful availment) and (2) (lawsuit relates to the defendant’s contacts with state).” (People ex rel. Harris v. Native Wholesale Supply Co. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 357, 362, citing Bridgestone Corp. v. Superior Court (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 767, 774].) “If the plaintiff does so, the burden then shifts to the defendant to show factor No. (3), that the exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable.” (Ibid.)
a. Purposeful Availment
“The nonresident defendant must have purposefully directed its activities at forum residents, or purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum state, thus invoking the benefits and protections of local law.” (Weil & Brown, Civ. Proc. Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2020) ¶ 3:226.) When individuals “purposefully derive benefit” from their interstate activities, it is unfair to allow such individuals to escape having to account for their activities in the state from which they purposefully derived a benefit, for the consequences that arise from such activities. (Burger King (1985) 471 U.S. 462, 471-474.) Minimum contacts can be electronic or created through the use of the telephone, mail, or e-mail. (Hall v. LaRonde (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1342, 1344, 1346-1347.) What is important “is that the defendant’s conduct and connection with the forum State are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.” (World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson (1980) 444 U.S. 286, 287.)
“[E]ven where other parties involved in the action have considerable contacts with California, if the nonresident defendant did not evidently intend to conduct business in California or in any other way directly or indirectly gain from California dealings, the purpose of the other parties cannot be imputed to the nonresident defendant for the purpose of assuming personal jurisdiction over him. [Citation.] Thus, “... jurisdiction over a nonresident must be based on an analysis of the relationship between that defendant and the forum state. [Citation.]” [Citation.]” (Edmunds v. Superior Court (1994) 24 Cal.App.4th 221, 231.) In order to establish personal jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant, the plaintiff must proffer “evidence of express aiming or intentional targeting.” (Pavlovich, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 273.)
“‘The purposeful availment inquiry . . . focuses on the defendant's intentionality. [Citation.] This prong is only satisfied when the defendant purposefully and voluntarily directs his activities toward the forum so that he should expect, by virtue of the benefit he receives, to be subject to the court's jurisdiction based on’ his contacts with the forum. [Citation.] Thus, the “‘purposeful availment’ requirement ensures that a defendant will not be haled into a jurisdiction solely as a result of ‘random,’ ‘fortuitous,’ or ‘attenuated’ contacts [citations], or of the ‘unilateral activity of another party or a third person.’ [Citations.]” [Citation.] “When a [defendant] ‘purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State,’ [citation], it has clear notice that it is subject to suit there, and can act to alleviate the risk of burdensome litigation by procuring insurance, passing the expected costs on to customers, or, if the risks are too great, severing its connection with the State.” [Citation.]” (Id. at p. 269.)
When determining if a defendant’s contacts with the forum state is sufficient to confer specific jurisdiction based solely on internet use, the California Supreme Court has adopted a sliding scale analysis. (Id. at p. 274.) “‘At one end of the spectrum are situations where a defendant clearly does business over the Internet. If the defendant enters into contracts with residents of a foreign jurisdiction that involve the knowing and repeated transmission of computer files over the Internet, personal jurisdiction is proper. [Citation.] At the opposite end are situations where a defendant has simply posted information on an Internet Web site which is accessible to users in foreign jurisdictions. A passive Web site that does little more than make information available to those who are interested in it is not grounds for the exercise [of] personal jurisdiction. [Citation.] The middle ground is occupied by interactive Web sites where a user can exchange information with the host computer. In these cases, the exercise of jurisdiction is determined by examining the level of interactivity and commercial nature of the exchange of information that occurs on the Web site.’ [Citation.] . . .
‘Creating a site, like placing a product into the stream of commerce, may be felt nationwide—or even worldwide—but, without more, it is not an act purposefully directed toward the forum state.’” [Citation.] Otherwise, ‘personal jurisdiction in Internet-related cases would almost always be found in any forum in the country.’ [Citation.] Such a result would ‘vitiate long-held and inviolate principles of’ personal jurisdiction. [Citation.]” (Id. at pp. 274-275.)
In Shisler v. Sanfer Sports Cars, Inc. (2006) 146 Cal.App.4th 1254, 1261, the appellate court found that a website that advertised a company’s vehicles and included a credit application through which customers submitted personal information was not a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction. The Shisler court found that there was no “evidence that anything about the website targeted California residents” and therefore the “defendant’s maintenance of the Web site alone [was] insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction.” (Ibid.)
Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that it “did not purposefully avail itself of the benefits and protections of California” and that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that Specially-Appearing Defendant did so by a preponderance of the evidence. (MPA, p. 13:7-8, 13:16-17.) Specially-Appearing Defendant asserts that it “is not a contractual party to any rental agreement, it does not own any property, nor is it responsible for the safety and maintenance of properties listed on its websites.” (Id. at p. 13:17-19, citing Miers Decl., ¶¶ 8-13.) Specially-Appearing Defendant maintains that “while Plaintiff vaguely alleges that HomeAway operates websites that ‘allow homeowners, both nationally and in California and Los Angeles, to advertise residential properties for rent,’ (see Compl. ¶ 8, emphasis added), an advertisement placed by a property owner or manager (see Dec. of B. Miers ¶¶ 4, 6; Dec. of C. Davis ¶ 3) would not, alone, amount to ‘significant activities’ within the State to establish purposeful availment by HomeAway sufficient for this Court’s exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over HomeAway.” (Id. at p. 13:19-24.) Specially-Appearing Defendant also argues that it has not purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections because its “websites are not expressly aimed at California.” (Id. at p. 14:17, citing Davis Decl., ¶¶ 4-5.) Specially-Appearing Defendant contends that it “merely makes its websites generally available to residents of any State (and internationally to anyone looking to book properties across the globe), and its websites are not limited solely to California rental properties.” (Id. at p. 14:18-20, citing Davis Decl., ¶¶ 4-5.) Specially-Appearing Defendant also argues that “Plaintiff will be unable to establish that HomeAway purposefully availed itself of the privilege of doing business in the State of California, especially as Plaintiff has made no specific allegations that HomeAway ‘performed some type of affirmative conduct which allows or promotes the transaction of business within the forum state.’” (Id. at p. 14:24-27.)
Plaintiff argues that “HomeAway, including its subsidiaries such as Vrbo, have engaged in significant business activities in California, purposefully availing itself to the privileges of conducting business in this State.” (Opp., p. 11:3-5.) Plaintiff maintains that “on HomeAway.com's current website, the website gives travelers lists of suggestions for ‘cabins,’ ‘vacation ideas,’ and ‘top destinations” and “from these categories, seven of the suggestions are cities in California—Big Bear, Lake Tahoe cabins, South Lake Tahoe cabins, San Diego, Palm Springs.” (Id. at p. 11:5-8, citing Franco Decl., ¶8, Ex. 7.) Plaintiff argues that “by making these travel suggestions to consumers and potential travelers, there can be no doubt, or surprise, that HomeAway be expected to be hailed to California for causes of actions related to these bookings.” (Id. at p. 11:8-10.) Plaintiff argues that “therefore, it is clear that HomeAway has purposefully availed itself to California due to these suggestions to potential travelers that they should consider booking California rental properties and travel to California.” (Id. at p. 11:18-20.) Plaintiff asserts that “given the popularity of rental properties, it is more likely than not that HomeAway has generated well more than $2 million dollars in sales revenue from its California listings—making California's jurisdiction over HomeAway appropriate and reasonable—consistent with California case law.” (Id. at p. 12:8-10.) Overall, Plaintiff maintains that “HomeAway has obtained the benefits and protections of California's laws through its numerous transactions with California residents and thus, the requirement of purposeful availment is satisfied.” (Id. at p. 11:15-17.)
In reply, Specially-Appearing Defendant maintains that “it is not obvious, and cannot be assumed, that HomeAway targets Californians interested in booking a property merely because homeowners and property owners chose to use HomeAway’s platform to list California properties for short term rentals.” (Reply, p. 6:17-19.) Further, Specially-Appearing Defendant asserts that the undisputed evidence directly contradicts Plaintiff’s assumption because Defendant has shown that “those websites are not directed at Travelers from any particular state, including California” and “those websites do not target California resident Travelers more, or differently, than Travelers from any other State . . . .” (Id. at p. 6:19-22, citing Davis Decl., ¶¶ 3-5.) Specially-Appearing Defendant argues that its “affirmative evidence submitted in support of this Motion establishing that it does not target California residents more than residents of any other state is sufficient to negate the element of purposeful availment.” (Id. at p. 7:7-9, citing Davis Decl., ¶¶ 4-5.) Specially-Appearing Defendant contends that “Plaintiff does not provide any evidence or authority to the contrary, and therefore has not carried her burden establishing that HomeAway’s website activity constitutes purposeful availment.” (Id. at p. 7:10-11.)
Specially-Appearing Defendant also argues that “Plaintiff’s suggestion that HomeAway has engaged in ‘numerous transactions with California residents,’ (see Oppo. at 11), is unsupported by evidence.” (Id. at p. 7:12-13.) Specially-Appearing Defendant asserts that it “provided affirmative evidence establishing that it is not a contractual party to any rental agreement (including the subject rental agreement), it does not own any rental properties, nor is it responsible for the safety and maintenance of properties listed on its websites.” (Id. at p. 7:13-17, citing Miers Decl., ¶¶ 8-13.) Specially-Appearing Defendant maintains that “Plaintiff does not provide any evidence to dispute this fact, and therefore has not carried her burden establishing that HomeAway engages in business within the state.” (Id. at p. 7:17-18.)
The Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to carry her burden establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that Specially-Appearing Defendant has purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of California to justify specific jurisdiction. Plaintiff has failed to provide evidence to establish that Specially-Appearing Defendant’s website advertising the third party rental options specifically targeted California residents. Instead, Specially-Appearing Defendant provides undisputed evidence that it operates certain websites that allows third-party property owners and managers to list their properties for short-term rent and connect with individuals who are seeking to rent a property, referred to as Travelers, and these websites “are not targeted at Travelers from any particular state, including California.” (Davis Decl., ¶¶ 3-4.) Further, Plaintiff does not provide evidence to contradict Specially-Appearing Defendant’s evidence that the “websites do not target California resident Travelers more, or differently, than Travelers from any other State.” (Id. at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff also fails to present evidence to dispute that “instead of targeting potential Travelers from any particular state or area, HomeAway makes its websites available domestically and internationally – generally, to anyone who seeks out those websites on the internet, regardless of where they live.” (Ibid.) Further, the undisputed evidence demonstrates that “with respect to California residents looking to rent vacation properties, HomeAway does not purposefully or deliberately direct or target any marketing to them differently than it targets any other residents of other states.” (Id. at ¶ 5.)
Similar to Shisler, Plaintiff fails to provide evidence that Specially-Appearing Defendant’s website specifically targeted California residents and the Court finds that Specially-Appearing Defendant’s mere maintenance of the website advertising the third-party property rentals is insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction. (See Shisler, supra, 146 Cal.App.4th at p. 1261.) Therefore, Plaintiff has not carried her burden to establish the “purposeful availment” prong of the test for specific jurisdiction.
The Court GRANTS Specially-Appearing Defendant’s motion to quash service of summons for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Case Number: 20STCV22663 Hearing Date: December 16, 2020 Dept: 29
20STCV22663 Karen Schwartz v. Tess Poblete, et al.
Court Order Re: Transfer and Reassignment of Complicated Personal Injury (“PI”) Case to An Independent Calendar ("IC") Courtroom from Department 29, a PI Hub Court.
AFTER REVIEW OF THE FILE, THE COURT MAKES THE FOLLOWING ORDER:
Department 29 of the Personal Injury Court has determined that the above-entitled action is complicated based upon the number of pretrial hearings and/or the complexity of the issues presented.
At the direction of Department 1, this case is hereby ordered reassigned and transferred to the Central District, Los Angeles, the Honorable Michael Linfield, Judge presiding in Department 34 for all purposes except trial. Department 1 hereby delegates to the Independent Calendar Court the authority to assign the cause for trial to that Independent Calendar Court.
Hearing on the Motion to Quash and any pending motions or hearings, including trial or status conferences, will be reset, continued or vacated at the direction of the newly assigned Independent Calendar Court. (NOTE: ALL HEARINGS currently set in Department 29 of the Spring Street Courthouse are taken off calendar subject to being reset and notified by the receiving court Re: New hearing dates.)
Judicial Assistant is directed to give notice to Plaintiff, who upon receipt of this notice, is ordered to give notice to all parties of record.
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