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IHT Corp. v. Paragon Cutlery
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT					Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	2002 ME 68
Docket:	Yor-01-569
Argued:	February 6, 2002
Decided:	April 18, 2002

Panel:SAUFLEY, C.J., and CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, DANA, ALEXANDER, and CALKINS, JJ.




IHT CORPORATION v. PARAGON CUTLERY CO., INC.


SAUFLEY, C.J.

	[¶1]  Paragon Cutlery appeals from a judgment entered in the District
Court (Biddeford, Mullen, J.) denying its motion to dismiss IHT's complaint for
lack of personal jurisdiction.  Paragon contends that this case presents an
exception to the final judgment rule and is therefore ripe for appeal, and that
the court erred in determining that it does have personal jurisdiction over the
case.  Because we conclude that Paragon's appeal is interlocutory and presents
no exception to the final judgment rule, we dismiss the appeal and do not
address the merits of the District Court's determination of jurisdiction.
I. BACKGROUND
	[¶2]  The complaint and affidavits of the parties disclose the following
facts.  IHT is a California corporation that owns and operates a division in
Kennebunk.  It is registered as a foreign corporation doing business in Maine. 
Paragon Cutlery is a North Carolina corporation.  During a seven-month period
ending in 2000, Paragon shipped thousands of knives it manufactured to IHT's
Kennebunk division, where the knives were coated with a gloss finish and
shipped back to Paragon in North Carolina or elsewhere at Paragon's direction.  
	[¶3]  A dispute between the parties arose over payment and the services
rendered by IHT in the Kennebunk plant.  IHT filed a complaint against
Paragon in the Maine District Court alleging breach of contract and unjust
enrichment claims as a result of the dispute.  Paragon moved to dismiss the
complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, alleging that it maintained
insufficient ties with the State of Maine to convey jurisdiction to its courts. 
Paragon appeals the court's denial of the motion to dismiss pursuant to 14
M.R.S.A. § 1901 (Supp. 2001).
II. DISCUSSION
	[¶4]  Our threshold determination is whether the court's denial of
Paragon's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is immediately
appealable.  Generally, only final judgments are ripe for our review, a doctrine
developed to "prevent[] piecemeal litigation, . . . curtail interruption, delay,
duplication and harassment; . . . minimize[] interference with the trial process;
. . . serve[] the goal of judicial economy; and . . . save[] the appellate court from
deciding issues which may ultimately be mooted . . . ."  Millett v. Atl. Richfield
Co., 2000 ME 178, ¶ 8, 760 A.2d 250, 253 (quoting State v. Me. State Employees
Ass'n, 482 A.2d 461, 464 (Me. 1984)).  
	[¶5]  Regarding the nature of the appeal before us, "[w]e have never held
that the denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is
immediately appealable as a matter of course.  On the contrary, we recently
held that such an appeal is interlocutory and merits our immediate review only
if it falls within an exception to the final judgment rule."  Breus v. Bezborodko,
1997 ME 211, ¶ 4, 704 A.2d 338, 339; see also Rosenbery v. Taylor, 685 A.2d
768, 769 (Me. 1996).  Paragon concedes that the present appeal is
interlocutory, but argues that it falls within an exception to the final judgment
rule.
	[¶6]  We have recognized three narrow exceptions to the final judgment
rule: the collateral order exception, the death knell exception, and the judicial
economy exception.{1}  Rosenbery, 685 A.2d at 769 n.2.  In the absence of such
an exception, we dismiss as interlocutory those appeals in which a trial court
has denied a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  Breus, 1997
ME 211, ¶ 5, 704 A.2d at 339; Rosenbery, 685 A.2d at 770.  On the facts
presented here, we reject Paragon's contention that any of the exceptions apply
to its case.  
	[¶7]  Paragon also argues that the "extraordinary circumstances" of this
case warrant our address of its appeal on the merits.{2}  Even if we were to
acknowledge such an exception to the final judgment rule, Paragon directs us
to no facts in the record to indicate that its motion presents any extraordinary
circumstances.  The essence of Paragon's argument is this: a foreign
corporation that contracted for and received services in Maine over a seven-
month period from a corporation with a place of business in Maine should not
be called upon to defend a suit in Maine related to payment for those services. 
No extraordinary circumstances are evident from these facts.  
	[¶8]  We conclude that because no exception to the final judgment rule is
applicable to Paragon's interlocutory appeal, it is not ripe for our review.  We
therefore dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment, and note that
Paragon's "interest in limiting the court's jurisdiction is protected by [its] right
to raise the issue on appeal after final judgment."  See Breus, 1997 ME 211, ¶
5, 704 A.2d at 339.
	The entry is:
Appeal dismissed.
           
Attorneys for plaintiff: Brian D. Willing, Esq. (orally) David S. Sherman, Jr. Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon P O Box 9781 Portland, ME 04104 Attoney for defendant: John A. Turcotte, Esq. (orally) Levis & Hull, P.A. 409 Alfred Street Biddeford, ME 04005
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . Paragon does not claim entitlement to any type of immunity. See Hawkes v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 2001 ME 8, ¶ 6, 764 A.2d 258, 263; Pratt v. Ottum, 2000 ME 203, ¶ 15, 761 A.2d 313, 318. {2} . Paragon's reliance on Architectural Woodcraft Co. v. Read, 464 A.2d 210 (Me. 1983), is misplaced. There, a Maine plaintiff sued an out-of-state manufacturer in the Maine District Court. Architectural Woodcraft, 464 A.2d at 211. The District Court raised the issue of personal jurisdiction sua sponte, and ultimately dismissed the plaintiff's case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Id. at 211. Thus, there was no dispute that the plaintiff's appeal presented a final judgment. In one case where we accepted an interlocutory appeal from a denial of a motion to dismiss, we concluded that an exception existed where "the peculiar character of the questions here presented" and the "vigorous[]" argument of both counsel supporting the appeal warranted its acceptance. Munsey v. Groves, 151 Me. 200, 202, 117 A.2d 64, 66 (1955).