United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ERGON OIL PURCHASING, INC.
CANAL BARGE COMPANY, INC., SAYBOLT, L.P., AND SOUTHWEST SHIPYARD, L.P.
ORDER AND REASONS
D. Engelhardt United States District Judge.
action, Plaintiff Ergon Oil Purchasing, Inc., alleges that
Defendant Southwest Shipyard, L.P. (“Southwest”)
failed to properly strip and clean barge CBC 7078, prior to
loading Plaintiff's cargo onto the vessel, which caused
the cargo to be damaged and contaminated. Plaintiff thus
seeks an award of damages. Contending the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over it, Southwest has filed, pursuant to Rule
12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the motion
to dismiss (Rec. Doc. 13) now before the Court. Having
carefully reviewed the parties' submissions, the record
herein, and applicable law, IT IS ORDERED that the motion to
dismiss is GRANTED for the reasons stated herein.
Accordingly, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's
claims against Southwest be and hereby are DISMISSED WITHOUT
2015, Plaintiff, a Mississippi corporation, chartered barge
CBC 7078 from Defendant Canal Barge Company, Inc.
(“Canal Barge”), a Louisiana corporation with its
principal place of business in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Pursuant to the charter, Plaintiff's cargo was to be
loaded onto the barge in Texas City, Texas, for transport to
and discharge at Plaintiff's Vicksburg, Mississippi
terminal. Thereafter, the barge was to be
redelivered in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
preparation for barge CBC 7078's voyage, Canal Barge
contracted with Southwest for barge cleaning services to be
provided at Southwest's Channelview, Texas facility prior
to Plaintiff's cargo being loaded in Texas
City. Plaintiff, however, alleges that Southwest
failed to follow cleaning instructions provided to it,
leaving pre-existing substances within the barge's tanks
that contaminated and damaged Plaintiff's cargo during
transport. As a result, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit,
seeking compensatory damages from Southwest and the other
defendants. With the instant motion, Southwest, a
non-resident Texas corporation with its principal place of
business in Channelview, Texas,  asks the Court to dismiss
Plaintiff's claims against it for lack of personal
nonresident defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that
personal jurisdiction exists. See Stuart v.
Spademan, 772 F.2d 1185, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985). When a
court rules on the issue without a full evidentiary hearing,
a plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of
jurisdiction. See Wilson v. Belin, 20 F.3d 644, 648
(5th Cir. 1994). In determining whether a plaintiff has made
a prima facie showing of jurisdiction, the court accepts the
allegations in the complaint as true, unless controverted by
opposing affidavits, and resolves all factual conflicts in
favor of the plaintiff. Id. In making its
determination, the court may consider “affidavits,
interrogatories, depositions, oral testimony, or any
combination of . . . recognized [discovery] methods.”
Thompson v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 755 F.2d 1162,
1165 (5th Cir. 1985).
instance, for the Court to have personal jurisdiction over
non-resident defendant Southwest, the Louisiana long-arm
statute must confer jurisdiction consistent with
constitutional due process. Patin v. Thoroughbred Power
Boats Inc., 294 F.3d 640, 652 (5th Cir. 2002).
Louisiana's long-arm statute, Louisiana Revised Statute
13:3201, extends jurisdiction to the full limits of
constitutional due process. See Dickson Marine Inc. v.
Panalpina, Inc., 179 F.3d 331, 336 (5th Cir. 1999)
(citing LSA-R.S. 13:3201(B); Petroleum
Helicopters, Inc. v. Avco Corp., 513 So.2d 1188, 1191
(La. 1987)). Thus, the Court's inquiry is
limited to whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over
Southwest comports with constitutional due process.
Patin, 294 F.3d at 652.
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects a
defendant from being subjected to “the binding
judgments of a forum with which he has established no
meaningful ‘contacts, ties, or relations.'”
Burger King v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 471-72
(1985) (quoting International Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319 (1945)). The Due Process
Clause thus requires that individuals have “fair
warning that a particular activity may subject [them] to the
jurisdiction of a foreign sovereign, ” to allow
“potential defendants to structure their  conduct
with some minimum assurance as to where that conduct will and
will not render them liable to suit.” Burger
King, 471 U.S. at 472 (internal citations omitted). The
requisite fair warning is satisfied when the defendant has
established “minimum contacts” with the forum
state and the suit does not offend “traditional notions
of fair play and substantial justice.”
International Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 316.
minimum contacts analysis requires that a non-resident
defendant have purposefully availed itself of the privileges
of the forum state by conducting activities there, or
purposefully directing activity toward that state, thus
subjecting itself to suit in that forum. See Goodyear
Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915,
924 (2011) (internal citations omitted); World-Wide
Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980).
The “defendant's conduct and connection with the
forum State [must be] such that he should reasonably
anticipate being haled into court there.”
World-Wide Volkswagen Corp., 444 U.S. at
297. Thus, the necessary minimum contacts must not
be “random, ” “fortuitous, ” or
“attenuated, ” and must be initiated by the
defendant and not a third party or the plaintiff. Burger
King, 471 U.S. at 475 (internal citations omitted).
jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant may be general
(“all purpose”) or specific
(“case-linked”). Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v.
Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., No.
16-466, 2017 WL 2621322, *6 (U.S. June 19, 2017) (quoting
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A., 564 U.S. at
919)). A court with general jurisdiction may hear
any claim against that defendant even if all the
incidents underlying the claim occurred in a different
State.” Id. General personal jurisdiction
exists, however, only when a non-resident defendant's
contacts with the forum state, though unrelated to the cause
of action at issue, are so continuous and systematic as to
render the defendant “essentially at home” there.
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A., 564 U.S. at
919 (citing International Shoe, 326 U.S. at 317);
see also BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, 137 S.Ct. 1549,
1559 (2017) (more than 2, 000 miles of railroad track and
more than 2, 000 employees in forum state insufficient to
provide general jurisdiction because inquiry does not focus
solely on magnitude of in-state contacts); Helicopteros
Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408
(1984) (traveling to Texas for contract negotiation,
accepting checks from Houston bank, purchasing helicopters
from Texas corporation, and sending personnel to Texas for
training did not confer general jurisdiction over
other hand, a court has specific personal jurisdiction over a
non-resident defendant when the litigation arises from the
defendant's minimum contacts with the forum state.
Burger King, 471 U.S. at 472 (litigation arising
from non-resident's alleged breach of its contract with
Florida corporation provided specific jurisdiction in Florida
forum). That is, “specific jurisdiction is confined to
adjudication of issues deriving from, or connected with, the
very controversy that establishes jurisdiction.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., No. 16-466, 2017 WL
2621322, at *6).
Plaintiff first alleges Southwest's contacts with
Louisiana are sufficiently continuous and systematic such
that the Court has general jurisdiction over it. These
contacts include three years (2015-2017) of annual golf
tournament sponsorship for Junior Achievement of Greater New
Orleans (JAGNO) and advertising in the accompanying
tournament program; participation in JAGNO's 2017
bowl-a-thon; yearly attendance at the International Workboat
Show in New Orleans; four or five annual sales calls in
Louisiana; four fishing trips in Louisiana with Louisiana and
Texas customers over the last two years; and contracts with
other Louisiana businesses.Applying the legal principles set
forth above, the Court disagrees with Plaintiff. Annual
participation in a couple of charitable events and a workboat
show attended by industry members from numerous states, ...