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Blakes v. Dyncorp International, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 18, 2017

EVERETT BLAKES
v.
DYNCORP INTERNATIONAL, LLC.

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 32) filed by Dyncorp International, LLC. Plaintiff Everett Blakes filed an opposition (Doc. 33). Defendant filed a reply. (Doc. 34). Defendant moves to dismiss, arguing that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction, that this action was filed in an improper forum, and that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief. Because the Court concludes that it lacks personal jurisdiction over the Defendant, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 32) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff seeks to recover employment-related pay and other benefits on behalf of himself and a purported class. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 1). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant employed him as an Escort Monitoring Technician at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 9). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant failed to pay him in accordance with his employment contract. Id. at ¶ 16. As a result, Plaintiff claims that Defendant breached the contract by: (1) failing to pay overtime and/or other premium compensation rates in accordance with the Afghan Labor Law; (2) failing to provide paid leave in accordance with the Afghan Labor Law; (3) failing to pay the end of service payment; (4) failing to pay damages for terminating the Contract prior to its completion date in accordance with the Afghan Labor Law; (5) failing to pay hardship pay; (6) failing to provide paid leave benefits; (7) failing to provide a per diem; and (8) failing to provide housing and transportation. Id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff also avers that Defendant failed to properly pay hundreds if not thousands of similarly situated employees. Id. at ¶ 19.

         Plaintiff filed suit on January 2, 2017. (Doc. 1). On July 10, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, which seeks to expand the putative class. (Doc. 22). Then, on August 29, 2017, the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 32).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes dismissal of a complaint where the Court lacks personal jurisdiction. "Where a defendant challenges personal jurisdiction, the party seeking to invoke the power of the court bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists." Luu N' Care, Ltd. u. Insta-Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006) (citing Wyatt v. Kaplan, 686 F.2d 276, 280 (5th Cir. 1982)). Where a defendant disputes the factual basis for jurisdiction, courts "may receive interrogatories, depositions, or 'any combination of the recognized methods of discovery' to help it resolve the jurisdictional issue. Walk Haydel & Assocs., Inc. v. Coastal Power Prod. Co., 517 F.3d 235, 241 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Thompson v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 755 F.2d 1162, 1165 (5th Cir. 1985).

         Where, as here, a court does not hold an evidentiary hearing on jurisdictional issues, "it should not act as a fact finder and must construe all disputed facts in the plaintiffs favor and consider them along with the undisputed facts." Id. at 241 (internal citations omitted). At this stage, the plaintiff also need only present a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction. Id. However, in assessing whether the plaintiff has presented a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction, courts "will not 'credit conclusory allegations, even if uncontroverted."' Sealed Appellant 1 v. Sealed Appellee 1, 625 Fed.Appx. 628, 631 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Panda Brandywine Corp. v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 253 F.3d 865, 869 (5th Cir. 2001)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A court has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant if the forum state's long-arm statute confers personal jurisdiction over that defendant, and the forum state's exercise of jurisdiction complies with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Latskaw v. Johnston, 167 F.3d 208, 211 (5th Cir. 1999). Because Louisiana's long-arm statute extends jurisdiction to the full limits of due process, the Court must determine only whether the exercise of its jurisdiction in this case satisfies federal due process requirements. La. R.S. § 13:3201(B).

         The exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant satisfies the DueP rocess Clause if: (1) the defendant has purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of the forum state by establishing "minimum contacts" with that state; and (2) exercising personal jurisdiction over the defendant does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Latshaw, 167 F.3d at 211 (citing International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). These required "minimum contacts" may be established by contacts sufficient to assert specific jurisdiction or general jurisdiction. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474 (1985) (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980)).

         A. General Jurisdiction

         A court may exercise general personal jurisdiction over a defendant when its "affiliations with the State are so 'continuous and systematic' as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State." Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (quoting International Shoe, 326 U.S at 317). A corporation is generally only "at home" in the state of its incorporation or its principal place of business. BNSFR. Co. v. Tyrrell, 581 U.S. ___, ___, 137 S.Ct. 1549, 1558 (2017) (internal citations omitted). "In an 'exceptional case/ a corporate defendant's operations in another forum 'may be so substantial and of such a nature as to render the corporation at home in that State." Id. (quoting Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S., at ___, n. 19, 134 S.Ct., at 761, n. 19 (2014)).

         Plaintiff does not argue that Defendant is subject to the Court's general jurisdiction because he indicates that he "knows little of DynCorp's business activities in the state of Louisiana." (Doc. 33 at p. 3).[1] Instead, Plaintiff argues that to fully address general jurisdiction, he requires jurisdictional discovery. (Doc. 33 at p. 3). "As the party opposing dismissal and requesting [jurisdictional] discovery, the plaintiffs bear the burden of demonstrating the necessity of discovery." See Freeman v. United States,556 F.3d 326, 341-42 (5th Cir. 2009). A plaintiff is "not entitled to jurisdictional discovery if the record shows that the ...


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