United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Rachelle Soto's Motion to
Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Improper Venue,
or in the alternative, to Transfer (Doc. No. 18). Plaintiff
Quill Ink Books Limited has responded (Doc. No. 21), and
Defendant Soto has replied (Doc. No. 24). Upon consideration
of the parties' submissions, the Court grants the Motion.
is an international book publisher with its principal place
of business in London, England. Plaintiff brings this action
against: Rachelle Soto, an author who resides in Virginia;
Defendant Soto's book publisher Blushing Books Publishing
(“Blushing Books”), whose principal place of
business is in Virginia; and unknown Jane Does and John Does.
See Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 6) ¶¶ 8, 10-12.
Between January and May 2018, Plaintiff published a
three-book romance series titled Myth of Omega.
Plaintiff released the first two books of the series to
online vendors of e-books and printed books, including
Draft2Digital, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes Apple,
Rakuten-Kobo, and Google Play. Id. ¶¶ 41,
43, 46. Plaintiff alleges that following this release,
Defendants Soto and Blushing Books submitted notifications
of copyright infringement to these online vendors pursuant to
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”),
see 17 U.S.C. § 512,  in which they claimed that
the Myth of Omega series plagiarized Defendant
Soto's former works and requested that the vendors cease
their sale of the books. Plaintiff contends that
Defendants' DMCA notices contained misrepresentations and
“false copyright claims.” Am. Compl. ¶¶
73, 76. Plaintiff now seeks declaratory judgment, damages,
and injunctive relief for copyright misuse, misrepresentation
of copyright claims under the DMCA, negligence, tortious
interference with economic advantage, tortious interference
with contract or business relations, defamation, false light,
and civil conspiracy. See Id. ¶¶ 1,
66-112; see also 17 U.S.C. § 512(c), (f).
Soto has moved for dismissal under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(3) for lack of personal
jurisdiction and improper venue. Alternatively, Defendant
Soto requests transfer of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1404(a). See Def. Soto Mot. (Doc. No. 18) at
Governing Personal Jurisdiction
the Court's jurisdiction over a defendant is contested,
the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction
exists. See Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503,
1505 (10th Cir. 1995); Benton v. Cameco Corp., 375
F.3d 1070, 1074 (10th Cir. 2004). In the preliminary stages
of litigation, however, “the plaintiff's burden is
light.” AST Sports Sci., Inc. v. CLF Distrib.
Ltd., 514 F.3d 1054, 1056 (10th Cir. 2008). When a
district court considers a pretrial motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction without conducting an
evidentiary hearing, “the plaintiff need only make a
prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction to defeat the
motion.” Id. at 1057 (citing OMI Holdings,
Inc. v. Royal Ins. Co. of Can., 149 F.3d 1086, 1091
(10th Cir. 1998)).
purposes of the plaintiff's prima facie case, the
allegations in the complaint are accepted as true but only to
the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's
affidavits. Shrader v. Biddinger, 633 F.3d 1235,
1248 (10th Cir. 2011). “If the parties present
conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes must be resolved
in the plaintiff's favor, and the plaintiff's prima
facie showing is sufficient notwithstanding the contrary
presentation by the moving party.” Wenz, 55
F.3d at 1505 (internal quotation marks omitted).
considering whether personal jurisdiction is proper in a
federal question case, federal courts must determine
“(1) whether the applicable statute potentially confers
jurisdiction by authorizing service of process on the
defendant and (2) whether the exercise of jurisdiction
comports with due process.” Peay v. BellSouth Med.
Assistance Plan, 205 F.3d 1206, 1209 (10th Cir. 2000)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Republic of
Panama v. BCCI Holdings (Lux.) S.A., 119 F.3d 935, 942
(11th Cir. 1997)). Because “neither the federal
Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., nor the
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201 et
seq, provides for nationwide service of process, ”
Dudnikov v. Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts, Inc.,
514 F.3d 1063, 1070 (10th Cir. 2008), the question of whether
there is statutory authorization to serve a defendant in this
matter is resolved by reference to Rule 4(k)(1)(A) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which commands that the
district court apply the law of the state in which the
district court sits. See id. Oklahoma has enacted a
“long-arm” statute that authorizes its courts to
exercise jurisdiction to the maximum extent permitted by the
federal Constitution. Rambo v. Am. S. Ins. Co., 839
F.2d 1415, 1416-17 (10th Cir. 1988); see Okla. Stat.
tit. 12, § 2004(F). Accordingly, the Court's inquiry
is reduced to a single question: whether the Court's
exercise of jurisdiction over Defendant Soto is consistent
with constitutional due process. See Shrader, 633
F.3d at 1239; Intercon, Inc. v. Bell Atl. Internet Sols.,
Inc., 205 F.3d 1244, 1247 (10th Cir. 2000).
process standard requires “minimum contacts”
between the defendant and the forum state and that the
exercise of jurisdiction comports with “traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S.
286, 291-92 (1980) (internal quotation marks omitted). The
“minimum contacts” standard may be satisfied by
showing either general or specific jurisdiction. See OMI
Holdings, Inc., 149 F.3d at 1090-91. In this case, the
only basis of jurisdiction over Defendant Soto reasonably
implicated by the factual allegations of Plaintiff's
pleading and affidavit is specific jurisdiction. See
Pl.'s Resp. (Doc. No. 21) at 18-27; Coale Aff. (Pl.'s
Resp. Ex. 1 (Doc. No. 21-1)) at 1-3.
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
Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985)). The first
element can take various forms. Id. In noncontract
actions such as this, “‘purposeful direction'
has three elements: ‘(a) an intentional action . . .
that was (b) expressly aimed at the forum state . . . with
(c) knowledge that the brunt of the injury would be felt in
the forum state.'” Newsome v. Gallacher,
722 F.3d 1257, 1264-65 (10th Cir. 2013) (omissions in
original) (quoting Dudnikov, 514 F.3d at 1072).
proffers two arguments in support of this Court's
exercise of jurisdiction over Defendant Soto. First,
Plaintiff argues that Defendant Soto's submission of the
DMCA notice to Draft2Digital, a distributor that has its
principal address in Oklahoma, constituted a contact with
Oklahoma sufficient to satisfy the requirements of specific
personal jurisdiction. See Pl.'s Resp. at 21-25;
Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8, 44. Second, Plaintiff submits that
Defendant Soto's alleged tortious interference with
Plaintiff's contract with Draft2Digital constitutes an
independent basis for exercising specific personal
jurisdiction over Defendant Soto. See Pl.'s
Resp. at 26-27; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 87-91.