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Page v. JNJ Express, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 2, 2018

SHALETHA PAGE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF HER MINOR CHILDREN K.K. AND H.M.
v.
JNJ EXPRESS, INC. ET AL.

         SECTION I

          ORDER AND REASONS

          LANCE M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On April 24, 2016, plaintiff Shaletha Page (“Page”) was driving southbound on I-55 in Batesville, Mississippi, with her two minor children.[1] At the same time, the driver of a tractor-trailer owned by defendant JNJ Express, Inc. (“JNJ”) and insured by defendant Cherokee Insurance Company (“Cherokee”) (collectively, “defendants”) attempted to merge into Page's lane of traffic.[2] The tractor-trailer struck Page's vehicle in the process, injuring Page and her children.[3]

         Defendants-neither of whom is incorporated, nor maintains its principal place of business, in Louisiana[4]-now move[5] to dismiss Page's case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction and under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) for improper venue. As an alternative to dismissal and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), [6] defendants ask the Court to consider transferring the case to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Oxford Division-the federal judicial district in which the accident occurred. Page opposes[7] the motion.

         I.

         The power of the Court to require a nonresident defendant to appear before it and to submit to its will is a great power-one that the Court may exercise only within constitutional and statutory bounds. As the Fifth Circuit has explained, “[a] federal court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant if (1) the forum state's long-arm statute confers personal jurisdiction over that defendant; and (2) the exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” McFadin v. Gerber, 587 F.3d 753, 759 (5th Cir. 2009). “In determining whether a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction, a district court must accept as true the uncontroverted factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint; a prima facie showing is all that is required.” Companion Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Palermo, 723 F.3d 557, 559 (5th Cir. 2013) (internal citations omitted).

         Louisiana's long-arm statute “extends personal jurisdiction of courts sitting in Louisiana, including federal courts, to the limits permitted under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Guidry v. U.S. Tobacco Co., 188 F.3d 619, 624 (5th Cir. 1999); see also La. R.S. § 13:3201 (Louisiana's long-arm statute). Thus, whether the Court possesses personal jurisdiction over the nonresident defendants in this case “depends on the parameters of federal due process.” Telephone Elec. Corp. v. S. Pac. Telecomm. Co., No. 95-31037, 1996 WL 556856, at *2 (5th Cir. Sept. 10, 1996).

         The Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause “protects an individual's liberty interest in not being subject to the binding judgments of a forum with which he has established no meaningful contacts, ties, or relations.” Guidry, 188 F.3d at 624 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. “Personal jurisdiction comports with due process when first, the defendant has the requisite minimum contacts with the forum state and second, requiring the defendant to submit to jurisdiction in the forum state would not infringe on ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'”[8] Companion Prop. & Cas., 723 F.3d at 559 (quoting Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102, 105 (1987); Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)).

         “The ‘minimum contacts' prong of the due process analysis may be subdivided into two different classifications of personal jurisdiction depending on the types of contacts the nonresident defendant has with the forum state”-namely, “specific” personal jurisdiction and “general” personal jurisdiction. Telephone Elec. Corp., 1996 WL 556856, at *2.

For specific personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff makes a prima facie showing of minimum contacts when his claim arises from the defendant's contact with the forum. For general personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff makes the requisite showing when that defendant's contacts are “continuous and systematic, ” so that the exercise of jurisdiction is proper irrespective of the claim's relationship to the defendant's contact with the forum.

Companion Prop. & Cas., 723 F.3d at 559.

         Ultimately, the “touchstone” of the minimum contacts inquiry “is whether the defendant's conduct shows that it reasonably anticipates being haled into court.” McFadin, 587 F.3d at 759 (internal quotation marks omitted). “The defendant must not be haled into a jurisdiction solely as a result of random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts, or of the unilateral activity of another party or third person.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         II.

         Page concedes that she is unable to make the necessary prima facie showing to support the Court's exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over defendants in this case.[9] Therefore, the Court must determine whether Page has alleged facts ...


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