United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Defendant Justin Akins's Motion to Dismiss
for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. 4) and a Motion to
Dismiss for Improper Venue or Alternatively Motion to Dismiss
Pursuant to Section 1406 or to Transfer Pursuant to 1404
(Doc. 5) filed by all Defendants. Defendant Justin Akins
seeks to have all claims filed against him dismissed on the
basis that personal jurisdiction does not exist in courts
located in the State of Louisiana. (Doc. 4 at p. 1). Further,
all Defendants seek to have claims against them either
dismissed or transferred to another district on the ground
that venue is improper in the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Louisiana. (Doc. 5 at p. 1). For
reasons explained fully herein, Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. 4) is DENIED
and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue or
Alternatively Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Section 1406 or
to Transfer Pursuant to 1404 (Doc. 5) is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART.
case arises from an automobile accident that occurred on
January 24, 2015. (Doc, 5 at p. 2). The accident occurred on
the Mississippi River Bridge, a bridge connecting Vicksburg,
Mississippi to Delta, Louisiana. (Doc. 11 at p. 1). Johnny
Burton, deceased husband of Plaintiff Brenda Burton, was
traveling from Delta, Louisiana to Vicksburg, Mississippi
when his vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle driven
by Defendant Justin Akins, an employee of Defendant Kansas
City Southern Railway Company. (Id. at 1-2).
claims are brought against Defendant Atkins, The Kansas City
Southern Railway Co., as well as The Travelers Ins. Co.,
Travelers Property Cas. Corp., The Travelers Indemnity Co.
("The Travelers"). (Doc. 1 at p. 1). Justin Atkins
is and was a resident of Oklahoma on the day of the accident.
(Doc. 5-1, at p. 3). The Kansas City Southern Railway Co. is
domiciled in Missouri and has its principle place of business
in Missouri. (Id. at 4). It is licensed to do
business in Louisiana, and its principle place of business is
in Shreveport-which is situated within the United States
District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
("Western District"). (Id.). The Travelers
are part of a Connecticut insurer that also has its principle
place of business in Connecticut. (Id.). It is
licensed to do business in Louisiana, and its principle place
of business in Louisiana is situated in Caddo Parish, in the
confines of the Western District. (Id.)
Mississippi River Bridge-on which the accident occurred-is
less than 2 miles long. (Doc. 11 at p. 5). Delta, Louisiana
is situated within the Western District. While an exact
location of the accident is unknown, the Court is satisfied
that Plaintiff has, for purposes of the motions sub
judice, presented prima facie evidence that the
collision likely occurred in Louisiana.
the wife of Decedent, filed this suit in the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. (Doc.
1). Subsequently, Defendant Atkins filed a motion to have the
action dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, and all
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or transfer the action
to the Western District or to the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Jackson,
(Doc. 5-1 at p. 9).
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
a nonresident defendant presents a motion to dismiss for lack
of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing the district court's jurisdiction over the
nonresident." Stuart v. Spademan, 772 F.2d
1185, 1192 (5th Cir.1985). "He need not, however,
establish personal jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence; prima facie evidence of personal jurisdiction is
sufficient." Wyatt v. Kaplan, 686 F.2d 276, 280
(5th Cir. 1982) (internal citation omitted). "Moreover,
on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction,
uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiffs complaint must
be taken as true, and conflicts between the facts contained
in the parties' affidavits must be resolved in the
plaintiffs favor for purposes of determining whether a prima
facie case for personal jurisdiction exists." Wilson
u. Belin, 20 F.3d 644, 648 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Bullion v. Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 217 (5th Cir.
1990)). In other words, the Court must determine, in a light
favorable to Plaintiff, whether personal jurisdiction exists.
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a federal district
court in a diversity case may exercise personal jurisdiction
over a defendant residing outside the state in which it sits
only to the extent permitted by state law." Wyatt v.
Kaplan,, 686 F.2d 276, 279 (5th Cir. 1982). "The
Louisiana long-arm statute authorizes the exercise of
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant as far as is
permitted by due process." Lancer Ins. Co. v.
Patel, 102 F.Supp.2d 704, 707 (W.D. La. 2000)
(citing La.Rev.Stat.Ann. § 13:3201(B)). Thus,
the question here is whether the exercise of jurisdiction in
the Middle District comports with due process, which only
"permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over
a foreign defendant when (1) that defendant has purposefully
availed himself of the benefits and protections of the forum
state by establishing minimum contacts with the forum state
and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction over that defendant does
not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice." Clemens v. McNamee, 615 F.3d 374, 378
(5th Cir. 2010).
Defendants have established minimum contacts with the forum
state to support specific jurisdiction. "Specific
jurisdiction is appropriate when the nonresident
defendant's contacts with the forum state arise from, or
are directly related to, the cause of action."
Wilson, 20 F.3d at 647. "Even a single
purposeful contact is sufficient to satisfy the due process
requirement of 'minimum contacts' when the cause of
action arises from the contact." Thompson v.
Chrysler Motors Corp., 755 F.2d 1162, 1172 (5th Cir.
1985). Here, the contacts with Louisiana arise from Defendant
Atkins act of traveling through Louisiana and, while
traveling from Louisiana towards Mississippi, committing acts
or omissions that allegedly led him to collide with the back
of Decedent near the Louisiana border. (Doc. 11 at p. 5).
Thus, the contact with the forum are directly related to the
collision that forms the cause of action, and the first prong
of due process is met.
the exercise of jurisdiction over this case does not offend
traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. In
making this determination, courts measure the following
factors; " whether the forum state has any special
interest in exercising jurisdiction, and  whether the
convenience of the parties favors litigating in another
state." Austin v. North American Forest
Products, 656 F.2d 1076, 1090 (5th Cir.1981). Both
factors weigh in favor of recognizing that personal
jurisdiction is properly exercised by courts situated in
the first factor of traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice, states have an "exceptionally
strong interest in providing a forum for the redress of
injuries to its residents occurring within its borders."
DeMelo v. Toche Marine, Inc.,711 F.2d 1260, 1272
(5th Cir. 1983). Because Plaintiff presents prima facie
evidence that the accident occurred in ...