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Mansfield Heliflight, Inc v. Heli-One Canada Inc.

November 13, 2012

MANSFIELD HELIFLIGHT, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
HELI-ONE CANADA INC., AND HELI-ONE (NORWAY) SA., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Conroy United States Magistrate Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

(Doc. 23)

Presently before the Court is Defendant Heli-One Canada Inc.'s motion to reconsider this Court's decision denying its motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 23.) For the reasons stated below, the motion for reconsideration is DENIED.

Factual and Procedural Background

The averments in the Amended Complaint are set out in detail in the Order the Defendant now asks this Court to reconsider (Doc. 22), but they are re-stated briefly here. After a lengthy negotiation, Mansfield Heliflight, Inc. ("Mansfield") allegedly formed a contract for the sale of helicopter engines and parts with a company it referred to as "Heli-One." As it turns out, "Heli-One" is, in fact, multiple companies, including (as relevant here) a Norwegian subsidiary (Heli-One (Norway) SA) and a Canadian subsidiary (Heli-One Canada Inc.). At various times, both during and after the alleged date of contract formation, Mansfield treated the company as one integrated whole, negotiating and e-mailing with individuals from both subsidiaries. Heli-One too represented itself as one integrated operation, both in its public pronouncements (i.e., statements on its website and press releases) and in the direct conversations and negotiations with Mansfield.

Although the helicopter parts and engines were delivered to the Heli-One Norway office, Mansfield was never paid. After some period of subsequent negotiation over payment, Mansfield filed its Amended Complaint on April 20, 2012, alleging various breach of contract, quasi-contract, and tort claims against both Heli-One Canada and Heli-One Norway.*fn1 (Doc. 7.)

Defendant Heli-One Canada filed the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction on May 30, 2012. (Doc. 9.) In essence, Heli-One Canada argued that it had nothing to do with the formation of the contract, as it is a distinct legal entity from HeliOne Norway, and thus this Court could not acquire personal jurisdiction over it as it had never "purposefully established minimum contacts within" Vermont. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 479 (1985). This Court disagreed. In a September 28, 2012 Order (Doc. 22), this Court denied Defendant's motion, reasoning that, due to the interconnectedness between Heli-One Canada and Heli-One Norway, the actions of the Norwegian subsidiary could be attributed to its Canadian counterpart. Because the formation of a contract with a Vermont company establishes sufficient minimum contacts to support an assertion of personal jurisdiction, the motion to dismiss was denied.

Heli-One Canada now moves for reconsideration, arguing that this Court's Order with respect to personal jurisdiction was in error. (Doc. 23.) Mansfield filed a response to the instant motion (Doc. 26), to which Heli-One Canada filed a reply (Doc. 29).

Discussion

I. Legal Standard

Although a "motion for reconsideration" is not technically described in the Federal

Rules of Civil Procedure, such motions are generally treated as Rule 59(e) motions to alter or amend the judgment if filed within the 28-day deadline provided by that rule. See Chet's Shoes, Inc. v. Kastner, 710 F. Supp. 2d 436, 454 (D. Vt. 2010). Here, judgment was entered on September 28, 2012 (Doc. 22), and Heli-One Canada moved to reconsider on October 2, 2012 (Doc. 23). Accordingly this motion is regarded as a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend a judgment.

Under Rule 59(e), reconsideration "'will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.'" Latouche v. North Country Union High School Dist., 131 F. Supp. 2d 568, 569 (D. Vt. 2001) (quoting Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995)). A motion for reconsideration may also be granted to "correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Griffin Indus., Inc. v. Petrojam, Ltd., 72 F. Supp. 2d 365, 368 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (internal quotation omitted). But "[t]he motion should not be granted where the moving party seeks to relitigate issues already considered ...


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