Cadorath Aerospace Lafayette, LLC, Cadorath Aerospace, Inc., and H-S Tool & Parts, Inc., Appellants-Defendants,
Colleen Ricks, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Brandon Seth Ricks; Cynthia Cobb, as Executrix of the Estate of Steven Wallace Cobb; and Brendan Mullen, Appellees-Plaintiffs Rolls-Royce Corporation, Inc., Defendant,
from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Patrick J.
Dietrick, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49D12-1703-CT-9915
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS CADORATH AEROSPACE LAFAYETTE, LLC,
AND CADORATH AEROSPACE, INC. Douglas B. Bates Chelsea R.
Stanley Stites & Harbison PLLC Jeffersonville, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT H-S TOOL & PARTS, INC. Pfenne P.
Cantrell Jennifer M. Van Dame Indianapolis, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Frederick R. Hovde Nicholas C. Deets
William F. Eckhart Hovde Dassow & Deets, LLC
[¶1] Following a helicopter crash in
2015, Colleen Ricks, Cynthia Cobb, and Brendan Mullen (the
Accident Victims) sued Cadorath Aerospace Lafayette, LLC and
Cadorath Aerospace, Inc. (the Cadorath Defendants), along
with H-S Tool & Parts, Inc. (H-S Tool), and the
Rolls-Royce Corporation, Inc. (Rolls-Royce), in Indiana. The
Accident Victims alleged that the collective Appellants
negligently repaired the helicopter engine, causing the
crash. The Cadorath Defendants and H-S Tool moved to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that they did not
have sufficient minimum contacts with the state of Indiana.
The trial court summarily denied their motions.
In this consolidated interlocutory appeal, the Cadorath
Defendants and H-S Tool contend that the trial court erred
when it denied their motions to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, arguing that (1) the Cadorath Defendants and
H-S Tool did not automatically consent to jurisdiction in
Indiana simply because there is a forum-selection clause or
an indemnity provision in an unrelated contract; (2) there
are insufficient minimum contacts between the Cadorath
Defendants, H-S Tool, and the state of Indiana to establish
specific personal jurisdiction; and (3) even if there are
sufficient minimum contacts, Indiana's jurisdiction over
this case would be unreasonable and would offend traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice. Finding that
there are insufficient minimum contacts to establish personal
jurisdiction, we reverse.
Parties and the Accident
The Cadorath Defendants-Cadorath Aerospace Lafayette, LLC
(Cadorath LLC) and Cadorath Aerospace, Inc. (Cadorath,
Inc.)-are entities that fix and repair helicopter engine
parts. Cadorath LLC conducts its services at a repair
facility in Louisiana and is organized under the laws of
Louisiana. Additionally, its principal place of business is
in Louisiana. Its sole member is a Canadian corporation.
Cadorath, Inc., conducts its services at a repair facility in
Winnipeg, Canada, and its principal place of business is also
in Winnipeg. Neither organization provides repair or
maintenance services in Indiana. They have no agents or
employees in Indiana, they have no facilities or property in
Indiana, they do not advertise services in Indiana, they are
not registered to do business in Indiana, and less than one
percent of their revenue comes from services provided to
entities located in Indiana.
H-S Tool is a Canadian corporation-established under the laws
of British Columbia-that repairs and services helicopter
engine components. Its sole place of business is in British
Columbia, and it is not registered to do business in Indiana.
H-S Tool does not have a mailing address, office, or any
employee that resides in Indiana, and it does not have any
property in or fiduciary tie to Indiana aside from the
infrequent transaction with an Indiana business entity. Also,
there are no H-S Tool distributors, agents, or warehouses in
Rolls-Royce is an Indiana corporation that
predominantly manufactures luxury automobiles. However, in
the context of this appeal, Rolls-Royce writes and publishes
manuals and other technical documents concerning helicopter
engines-including the one pertinent to this case. It also
manufactures helicopter engines. Its principal place of
business is in Indianapolis.
The Accident Victims include Colleen Ricks, as personal
representative of Brandon Ricks, who died in the helicopter
accident; Cynthia Cobb, as executrix of the estate of Steven
Cobb, who also died in the helicopter accident; and Brendan
Mullen, who was severely injured in the accident. Brandon and
Colleen Ricks were residents of Oklahoma, Steven and Cynthia
Cobb were residents of Mississippi, and Brendan Mullen is a
resident of Montana.
The accident occurred on March 30, 2015, in Saucier,
Mississippi, after the Rolls-Royce Model 250 helicopter
engine allegedly failed. The Accident Victims claim that the
Cadorath Defendants and H-S Tool performed negligent repair
work on the outer combustion case (OCC) of the Rolls-Royce
engine sometime after an OCC overhaul in 2003.
Cadorath Defendants and Rolls-Royce
On March 15, 2004, Cadorath, Inc., entered into an Authorized
Repair Facility agreement (ARF) with Rolls-Royce. Cadorath
LLC did the same with Rolls-Royce on March 31, 2005. These
ARFs contemplated that the two entities would work together
in the future to develop repair processes and to complete
off-manual repairs at these facilities. Included in these
ARFs was an indemnity provision that states, in pertinent
part, as follows:
The Repair Facility agrees to indemnify and hold ROLLS-ROYCE
harmless from any and all claims, demands, suits, judgment or
causes of action for or on account of injury to or death of
persons or loss or damage to property arising from the
performance by the Repair Facility of the Repair Process
except to the extent caused by the negligence or other
wrongful act of ROLLS-ROYCE.
Appellants' Joint App. Vol. IV p. 151 (emphases in
original). These ARFs were in effect at the time the Accident
Victims allege the negligent repairs took place. There is no
evidence showing that Cadorath, Inc., ever worked on OCC
repairs, and the evidence shows that Cadorath LLC only ever
worked on OCC repairs in 2006 and 2008 in Lafayette,
Louisiana. Additionally, Rolls-Royce has not asserted an
indemnity claim against the Cadorath Defendants. Cadorath LLC
utilized a repair process instruction sheet (RPIS) that
followed Rolls-Royce's overhaul manual and utilized Parts
Repair Procedures Letters (PRPL) for recommended repairs.
Cadorath LLC accessed these Rolls-Royce materials through an
online search in Louisiana. The Cadorath Defendants did not
create these RPIS, PRPLs, or manuals, nor did they work in
tandem with Rolls-Royce to develop them. Rather, Cadorath LLC
followed these procedures when making repairs, as it was
obligated to do under federal law.
In February 2010, the Cadorath Defendants entered into new
ARFs with Rolls- Royce, which both included a forum-selection
clause. That clause reads as follows:
The parties hereby agree that all suits, actions,
proceedings, litigation, disputes or claims relating to or
arising out of this Agreement shall be brought and tried in
the Superior or Circuit Court of Marion County, Indiana or
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Indiana, Indianapolis Division. In this regard, the parties
hereby . . . (b) irrevocably consent to service of
process and to the jurisdiction and venue of any of such
courts, and (c) irrevocably waive any claim of
inconvenient forum if any such suit, claim, proceeding,
litigation, dispute or claim has been filed, brought or made
in either of such courts.
Id. at 207 (emphasis added).