United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Power Partners, Inc.'s Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 43], filed pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), (b)(6) and (c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b).
As one ground for dismissal, Power Partners, Inc.
(“Power Partners”) asserts a lack of personal
jurisdiction in this forum because it is a nonresident
defendant with insufficient contacts to the State of Oklahoma
to satisfy due process. “Jurisdiction is a threshold
question that a federal court must address before reaching
the merits of a [case], even if the merits question is more
easily resolved and the party prevailing on the merits would
be the same as the party that would prevail if jurisdiction
were denied.” Montoya v. Chao, 296 F.3d 952,
955 (10th Cir. 2002) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a
Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 93-94 (1998)); see
Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 584 (1999)
(personal jurisdiction). Thus, the Court must decide the
jurisdictional question raised by Power Partners before
reaching any merits issues presented by the
Zon LED, LLC has filed a response [Doc. No. 51] in opposition
to the Motion, and Power Partners has filed a reply brief
[Doc. No. 55] and a supplemental exhibit [Doc. No. 60]. The
Motion is fully briefed and ripe for decision.
and Procedural Background
brings suit to recover damages allegedly caused by the
failure of two LED power supply products or
“drivers” sold by Power Partners, which is a
Massachusetts corporation located in Massachusetts. Power
Partners distributes products manufactured by others; the
drivers were produced by a Chinese company, Inventronics,
Inc., which was a named defendant in this case but was
dismissed for lack of service. See 4/28/17 Order
[Doc. No. 63]. Plaintiff has also sued Inventronics USA,
Inc., which is an Oklahoma corporation located in Oklahoma
City and alleged to be the “United States
presence” and “a distribution center” for
Inventronics, Inc. See Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 37],
¶ 3. Plaintiff is a Michigan limited liability company
located in Michigan. Plaintiff asserts claims of common law
fraud under Massachusetts law (see id. ¶ 38),
and breaches of express and implied warranties under the
Uniform Commercial Code, Okla. Stat. tit. 12A, §§
2-313 to 2-315. Federal subject matter jurisdiction is
based on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. §
Partners initially moved for dismissal of the action on the
same grounds asserted in its present Motion. Upon examination
of the Complaint, however, the Court raised sua
sponte a lack of sufficient factual allegations to
establish the citizenship of certain parties, and directed
Plaintiff to amend its pleading. The Amended Complaint both
cured this deficiency and added factual allegations regarding
shipments of drivers from Inventronics USA, Inc. in Oklahoma
to Plaintiff in Michigan. See Am. Compl. [Doc. No.
37], ¶¶ 8, 11. Plaintiff also included as an
additional exhibit, a copy of an invoice from Inventronics
USA, Inc. dated July 25, 2011. See id. Ex. 9 [Doc.
No. 37-9]. Power Partners has renewed its Motion in response
to the Amended Complaint.
“bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction
over [a] defendant.” Intercon, Inc. v. Bell Atl.
Internet Sol., 205 F.3d 1244, 1247 (10th Cir. 2000);
see Rockwood Select Asset Fund XI(6)-1, LLC v. Devine,
Millimet & Branch, 750 F.3d 1178, 1179 (10th Cir.
2014); Shrader v. Biddinger, 633 F.3d 1235, 1239
(10th Cir. 2011). Where, as here, the issue is presented for
decision on the basis of allegations and affidavits or
written materials, Plaintiff “need only make a prima
facie showing that jurisdiction exists.”
Intercon, 205 F.3d at 1247 (internal quotation
omitted); see Shrader, 633 F.3d at 1239;
Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. Bartile Roofs, Inc., 618
F.3d 1153, 1159 (10th Cir. 2010); Dudnikov v. Chalk &
Vermilion Fine Arts, Inc., 514 F.3d 1063, 1070 (10th
Cir. 2008). At this stage, the Court must accept
“‘as true all well-pled (that is, plausible,
non-conclusory, and non-speculative) facts alleged in
plaintiff['s] complaint'” and “resolve
any factual disputes in the plaintiff's favor.”
Shrader, 633 F.3d at 1239 (quoting
Dudnikov, 514 F.3d at 1070); see Intercon,
205 F.3d at 1247.
establish personal jurisdiction of a nonresident defendant,
“a plaintiff must show that jurisdiction is legitimate
under the laws of the forum state and that the exercise of
jurisdiction does not offend the due process clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment.” Employers, 618 F.3d at
1159 (internal quotation omitted). Under Oklahoma law, the
personal jurisdiction inquiry is simply the due process
analysis. Intercon, 205 F.3d at 1247; see Monge
v. RG Petro-Mach. (Grp.) Co., 701 F.3d 598, 613 (10th
Cir. 2012). The familiar due process standard requires
“minimum contacts” between the defendant and the
forum state and a finding that the exercise of jurisdiction
comports with “fair play and substantial
justice.” See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz,
471 U.S. 462, 476 (1985) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 320 (1945)); World-Wide
Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291, 297
(1980); Intercon, 205 F.3d at 1247.
Minimum Contacts - Legal Standard
minimum contacts standard may be satisfied by showing general
or specific personal jurisdiction. See Goodyear Dunlop
Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919
(2011); see also Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior
Court of Cal., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1179-80 (2017). General
jurisdiction refers to a court's power to hear claims
against a nonresident defendant whose “affiliations
with the State in which suit is brought are so constant and
pervasive ‘as to render [it] essentially at home in the
forum State.'” See Daimler AG v. Bauman,
134 S.Ct. 746, 751 (2014) (quoting Goodyear, 564
U.S. at 919) (alteration in Daimler). Specific
jurisdiction requires that “‘the
suit' must ‘aris[e] out of or relat[e] to
the defendant's contacts with the
forum.'” Bristol-Squibb, 137
S.Ct. at 1780 (quoting Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 754)
(internal quotation omitted and emphasis added in
Bristol-Myers). Plaintiff relies solely on specific
jurisdiction to establish personal jurisdiction over Power
Partners in Oklahoma. See Pl.'s Resp. Br. [Doc.
No. 51] at 1 (“specific personal jurisdiction exists .
. . as it relates to this transaction”).
personal jurisdiction “requires, first, that the
out-of-state defendant must have ‘purposefully
directed' its activities at residents of the forum state,
and second, that the plaintiff's injuries must
‘arise out of' defendant's forum-related
activities.'” Dudnikov, 514 F.3d at 1071
(quoting Burger King, 471 U.S. at 472); see
Intercon, 205 F.3d at 1247; Pro Axess, Inc. v. Orlux
Distrib., Inc., 428 F.3d 1270, 1277 (10th Cir.
2005). To satisfy the first prong, Plaintiff must
demonstrate that Power Partners “‘purposefully
directed' its activities at the forum state . . . or
‘purposely availed' itself of the privilege of
conducting activities or consummating a transaction in the
forum state.” Dudnikov, 514 F.3d at 1071.
Purposeful availment generally requires affirmative conduct
by the nonresident defendant that creates a substantial
connection to the state; “random, fortuitous, or
attenuated contacts” or “the unilateral activity
of another party” is insufficient. See Burger
King, 471 U.S. at 475 (internal quotations omitted).
Minimum Contacts - Application to ...