The US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that a corporation named in a products liability suit did not reside in the district even though defendant had spent significant sums on advertising and realized substantial revenue from sales in the district.
Plaintiff, a Pennsylvania resident, commenced an action in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after he suffered injuries from exposure to a heater sold by the defendant, an Ohio corporation. Defendant moved to dismiss or transfer the action on the basis that defendant did not "reside" in the district.
Plaintiff asserted that defendant's presence in the district was sufficient for it to be sued there, based on, among other things, defendant's more than $19 million of advertising in national print media distributed in the forum, $625,000 on national radio advertising which may have been received in the district, a $50,000 infomercial that aired in Philadelphia, and other regular solicitation of business through Internet, television and print media advertising. Additionally, defendant shipped over $13 million in merchandise to customers in the forum in the prior three years.
Even though the contacts appeared to be substantial, the court examined the facts within the context of defendant's overall advertising expenditures and sales revenues. For example, only 2.5% of defendant's print and 3.7% of defendant's television advertising expenditures were directed at the forum, and defendant's over $13 million in local sales represented only 1.7% of its total sales. The court concluded that defendant's contacts were part of a national sales and advertising effort that happened to reach the district, but that were not targeted at it. Accordingly, the court found that the defendant did not reside in the district, and directed the transfer of the case to the proper district. (Henning v. Suarez Corp. Indus., Inc., No. 09 Civ. 4282, 2010 WL 1817257 (E.D.Pa. May 4, 2010))