United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
RALPH S. RODGERS, JR., ET AL.
HOPKINS ENTERPRISES OF MS., LLC, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Charles E. Hopkins, Sr.'s motion
to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the following
reasons, the Court grants the motion.
case arises out of a motor vehicle collision in Orleans
Parish, Louisiana. On March 1, 2016, Plaintiff Ralph Rodgers
was driving a van on the I-10 highway when his vehicle was
allegedly struck from behind by a tractor-truck operated by
Defendant Jarrett Mitchell. Mr. Rodgers asserts that he
suffered severe personal injuries and damage to his vehicle
as a result of the collision. Plaintiffs allege that
Mitchell's vehicle was owned by Defendant Charles Hopkins
and/or Defendant Hopkins Enterprises of MS,
Plaintiffs further assert that Mitchell was acting within the
course and scope of his employment with Charles Hopkins
and/or Hopkins Enterprises at the time of the
February 17, 2017, Mr. Rodgers and his wife Heather Rodgers
filed a petition for damages in Louisiana state
court. On June 29, 2017, defendants removed this
matter on the basis of diversity of
citizenship.Charles Hopkins now moves to dismiss the
claims against him for lack of personal
jurisdiction is “an essential element of the
jurisdiction of a district court, without which the court is
powerless to proceed to an adjudication.” Ruhrgas
AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 584 (1999)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A district
court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant if
“(1) the long-arm statute of the forum state creates
personal jurisdiction over the defendant; and (2) the
exercise of personal jurisdiction is consistent with the due
process guarantees of the United States Constitution.”
Revell v. Lidov, 317 F.3d 467, 469 (5th Cir. 2002).
Louisiana's long-arm statute, La. R.S. 13:3201, extends
jurisdiction to the limits of due process, the Court need
only consider whether the exercise of jurisdiction in this
case satisfies federal due process requirements. Dickson
Mar. Inc. v. Panalpina, Inc., 179 F.3d 331, 336 (5th
Cir. 1999). The exercise of personal jurisdiction over a
foreign defendant satisfies due process 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.”
Revell, 317 F.3d at 470 (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). “Sufficient minimum contacts
will give rise to either specific or general
jurisdiction will attach if the defendant has engaged in
“continuous and systematic” activities in the
forum state. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 (1984). Specific jurisdiction
“exists when a nonresident defendant has purposefully
directed its activities at the forum state and the litigation
results from alleged injuries that arise out of or relate to
those activities.” Panda Brandywine Corp. v.
Potomac Elec. Power Co., 253 F.3d 865, 868 (5th Cir.
2001) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
bears the burden of showing that personal jurisdiction
exists, but need only present a prima facie case.
See Revell, 317 F.3d at 469. When the district court
rules on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction without an evidentiary hearing, the
“uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's
complaint must be taken as true, and conflicts between the
facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be
resolved in the plaintiff's favor.” Johnston v.
Multidata Sys. Int'l Corp., 523 F.3d 602, 609 (5th
Cir. 2008). But the district court is not required “to
credit conclusory allegations, even if uncontroverted.”
Panda Brandywine Corp., 253 F.3d at 869.
Hopkins argues that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction
because he has not engaged in minimum contacts with
Louisiana. Mr. Hopkins objected to personal
jurisdiction in state court before removal.The petition
alleges that Mr. Hopkins is a resident of
Mississippi. Mr. Hopkins attests that he has lived in
Mississippi since 1969, his office is in Mississippi, and he
has never operated a business or possessed real property in
Louisiana. The Court thus perceives no basis to
exercise general jurisdiction over him.
Court also lacks specific jurisdiction over Mr. Hopkins.
Plaintiffs have not responded to the motion to dismiss, and
they do not contest Mr. Hopkins's assertion that he has
not purposefully directed his activities at the state of
Louisiana. The petition connects Mr. Hopkins to the motor
vehicle collision in two capacities: (i) as owner of the
tractor-truck driven by Mitchell at the time of the accident