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Automotive Experts, LLC v. St. Charles Pontiac Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 25, 2015



IVAN L.R. LEMELLE, District Judge.


Before the Court is Defendant St. Charles Pontiac, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). (Rec. Doc. 9). Plaintiff, Automotive Experts, L.L.C., opposes the motion (Rec. Doc. 12) and Defendant has filed a reply. (Rec. Doc. 13). For the reasons that follow,

IT IS ORDERED THAT Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.


Plaintiff, Automotive Experts, L.L.C., filed a Complaint in this Court on August 26, 2014, invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and alleging breach of contract for failure to pay on an open account by Defendant St. Charles Pontiac Inc. (Rec. Doc. 1). Plaintiff is a Louisiana limited liability company, with its registered office in the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, which provides advertising and promotional services to automotive dealerships. (Rec. Doc. 1 at 1). Defendant is a Delaware corporation licensed to do business in Illinois. (Rec. Doc. 9-2 at 1). It has one place of business located in the town of St. Charles, Illinois from which it sells new cars to customers in the Chicago market. (Rec. Doc. 9-2 at 1).

On or about November 14, 2013, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into two "Contracts of Retention" under which Plaintiff was to provide advertising and promotional services to Defendant in connection with certain upcoming sales promotion events.[1] (Rec. Doc. 1 at 2). Although the parties do not specify, it would appear that the first contract may have been entered into between Plaintiff and an affiliate of Defendant, [2] while the second contract was entered into between Plaintiff and Defendant directly. (See Rec. Doc. 12-1 at 1, 3). In any event, both contracts appear to have been signed by the same individual, above a legend reading "Nissan of St. Charles." (Rec. Doc. 12-1 at 2, 4).

According to Plaintiff's Complaint, it performed all services due under the contracts but was never paid by Defendant for the services rendered. (Rec. Doc. 1 at 3). On July 11, 2014, Plaintiff claims it sent a certified letter making demand pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. ann. § 9:2781 for payment of an invoice in the amount of $91, 768.00 within 30 days of receipt. (Rec. Doc. 1 at 3). When Defendant allegedly failed to respond or pay within the designated period, Plaintiff instituted the instant breach of contract action seeking that amount in addition to reasonable attorney fees and costs. (Rec. Doc. 1 at 3).


Defendant contends this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it for purposes of the instant suit. In support of this contention, Defendant argues it lacks the minimum contacts necessary to establish jurisdiction in Louisiana and has never availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within Louisiana, nor invoked the benefits or protection of Louisiana law. (Rec. Doc. 9 at 1). Further, Defendant argues the contract at issue was negotiated and performed in Illinois, rather than Louisiana. Consequently, Defendant argues the Court has neither general nor specific personal jurisdiction over it and should dismiss the case. (Rec. Doc. 9 at 1). Alternatively, Defendant argues the Court should transfer the case to the appropriate federal district in Illinois for further resolution. Id.


Plaintiff argues the Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant for the reasons that: Defendant entered into a contract with Plaintiff, a Louisiana resident; Plaintiff executed the contract in Louisiana; Plaintiff retained services of other Louisiana entities in fulfilling its obligations under the contract; all marketing materials were printed and mailed from Louisiana; and the parties agreed the contract would be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Louisiana. (See Rec. Doc. 12 at 2). Accordingly, Plaintiff argues "there is no question this Court has personal jurisdiction over St. Charles and it must answer for the torts it committed under Louisiana law." (Rec. Doc. 12 at 3).[3] Alternatively, Plaintiff contends Defendant waived objection to the Court's exercise of personal jurisdiction by failing to timely file an answer in these proceedings and by participating in a Rule 16 scheduling conference. (See Rec. Doc. 12 at 5).


Where a defendant challenges personal jurisdiction, the party seeking to invoke the power of the court bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. Wyatt v. Kaplan, 686 F.2d 276, 280 (5th Cir. 1982). The plaintiff need not, however, establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence; a prima facie showing suffices. Id. This court must resolve all undisputed facts submitted by the plaintiff, as well as all facts contested in the affidavits, in favor of jurisdiction. Id. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that no federal court may assume jurisdiction in personam of a non-resident defendant unless ...

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