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Schindler v. Dravo Basic Materials Company, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 18, 2002


         SECTION “N” (2)



         Presently before the Court is Defendant Dravo Basic Materials Company, Inc.'s FRCP 12(b)(2) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 11). Plaintiff Robert Schindler has filed a response in opposition (Rec. Doc. 12), to which Defendant Dravo Basic Material Company, Inc. has replied. See Rec. Doc. 15. Having carefully considered the parties' supporting and opposing submissions, the record, and the applicable law, IT IS ORDERED that the motion is DENIED for the reasons stated herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The instant matter arises out of Plaintiff Robert Schindler's (“Schindler”) personal injuries, specifically mesothelioma, allegedly caused, in part, by the exposure to asbestos while working in the engine room of a vessel called DRAVO, which was owned and operated by Defendant Dravo Basic Materials Company, Inc., formerly known as Radcliff Materials, Inc. (“Dravo”). (Rec. Doc. 1 at p. 1). Schindler alleges that he worked upon the DRAVO in 1973 for three months while the DRAVO was “operating in the navigable waters of Lake Pontchartrain.” Id. at p. 2.

         On November 21, 2017, Schindler filed his Seaman's Complaint, invoking a cause of action under the Jones Act and seeking to recover damages for:

[P]ast and future physical pain and suffering; physical disability, impairment, and inconvenience; the effect of Plaintiff's injuries and inconvenience on the normal pursuits and pleasures of life; past and future mental anguish and feelings of economic insecurity caused by disability; income loss in the past; impairment of earning capacity or ability in the future, including impairment of Plaintiff's earning capacity due to his physical condition; and past and future medical expenses.

Id. at p. 6-7. Thereafter, Dravo filed the instant motion, seeking to dismiss this action for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). See Rec. Doc. 11. Dravo specifically argues that this Court lacks both general and specific jurisdiction. (Rec. Doc. 11-1 at p. 5-6). First, Dravo argues that it was not organized under Louisiana law and does not have its principal place of business in Louisiana, so it is inappropriate for this Court to exercise general jurisdiction. Id. at p. 10. Next, Dravo asserts that it would be unconstitutional for this Court to exercise specific jurisdiction because it has not had any contacts with Louisiana in almost a quarter of a century, and this Court's exercise of jurisdiction over it would be unreasonable. Id. at p. 13-20. In support of its argument that this Court should not exercise specific jurisdiction because its contacts with Louisiana are remote or “historical, ” Dravo urges the Court to extend certain temporal limitations that courts consider in general jurisdiction analyses to the Court's assessment of specific jurisdiction. Id. at p. 13-16. Further, Dravo argues that even if the Court finds that it has sufficient minimum contacts with Louisiana to establish specific jurisdiction and that Schindler's claim arises out of such contacts, exercising jurisdiction would be unreasonable. Id. at p. 17.

         Is his opposition memorandum, Schindler only responds to Dravo's arguments regarding specific jurisdiction. See Rec. Doc. 12. Specifically, Schindler addresses Dravo's argument that this Court should appropriate arguments relevant to general jurisdiction to a specific jurisdiction analysis, stating that “[b]lending the analysis of these two different types of jurisdiction would contravene applicable legal precedent and would, on the facts of this case, result in a serious miscarriage of justice.” Id. at p. 1. Further, Schindler argues that Dravo does have the requisite minimum contacts with Louisiana to confer specific jurisdiction. Id. at p. 2. Additionally, Schindler discounts Dravo's arguments relevant to the alleged unreasonableness of this Court exercising personal jurisdiction over the instant matter. Id. at p. 7.

         In its reply memorandum in support of its motion, Dravo addresses Schindler's arguments relevant to its contacts with Louisiana. (Rec. Doc. 15 at p. 3). Specifically, Dravo argues that Schindler's citation to cases where Dravo was a party was evidence of minimum contacts is improper. Id. at p. 3-6. Moreover, Dravo assets that none of the cases cited by Schindler concern a defendant's contacts with the forum state that are “decades removed from the filing of suit.” Id. at p. 7. Additionally, Dravo reiterates its argument that any exercise of jurisdiction by this Court would be unreasonable. Id. at p. 10-11.


         When a nonresident defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a prima facie showing. Luv N' care, Ltd. v. Insta-Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006). In its jurisdictional determination, the Court may consider "affidavits, interrogatories, depositions, oral testimony, or any combination of the recognized methods of discovery.” Stuart v. Spademan, 772 F.2d 1185, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985). The Court “must resolve all undisputed facts submitted by the plaintiff, as well as facts contested in the affidavits, in favor of jurisdiction.” Luv N' care, 438 F.3d at 469. “When a plaintiff makes its prima facie case that the defendant has ‘minimum contacts' with the forum state, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant to show that the exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable.” Id. at 473 (citation omitted).

         Before the Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, the long-arm statute of the forum state must confer upon it the authority to do so. See Latshaw v. Johnson, 167 F.3d 208, 211 (5th Cir. 1999). In addition, the exercise of jurisdiction must not exceed the boundaries of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. In Louisiana, the long-arm statute extends jurisdiction to the full limits of due process. Planet Beach Franchising Corp. v. C3Ubit, Inc., No. Civ.A. 02-1859, 2002 WL 1870007 at *2 (E.D. La. Aug. 12, 2002). Therefore, the Court's focus in the present matter is whether the exercise of jurisdiction over Dravo would comport with the constitutional requirements of due process. See id.

         Due process is satisfied when (1) the defendant has purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of the forum by establishing “minimum contacts” with that state, and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). The “minimum contacts” inquiry is fact intensive, and the touchstone is whether “the defendant purposefully directed his activities towards the forum state, such that he could reasonably foresee being haled into court there.” Southern Marsh Collection, LLC. v. C.J. Printing Inc., Civil Action No. 14-495, 2015 WL 331919 at *1 (M.D. La. Jan. 26, 2015) (citing Luv N' Care Ltd., 438 F.3d at 470). Minimum contacts may ...

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