United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
MATHESON TRI-GAS, INC.
WILLIAMSON GENERAL CONTRACTORS, INC.
KATHLEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the court is a Motion to Dismiss filed pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) by Taiyo Nippon Sanso
Corporation (“TNSC”), relating to the claims
raised against it in defendant Williamson General
Contractors, Inc.'s (“Williamson”) First
Supplemental and Amended Counterclaim (“Amended
Counterclaim”) [doc. 24]. Doc. 41. Williamson opposes
the motion and requests, in the alternative, that the court
permit limited jurisdictional discovery or allow Williamson
time to file a second supplemental and amended counterclaim.
matter began as a breach of contract suit relating to the
building of Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc.'s
(“Matheson”) Pelican Phase I plant
(“Pelican project”) in Westlake, Louisiana. Doc.
1. Matheson alleged, in relevant part, that its contractor on
the Pelican project, Williamson, demanded additional
unreasonable sums to complete the facility after being fairly
compensated for design modifications and then abandoned the
project, in breach of the parties'
agreements. Id. at 2-5. Williamson filed
counterclaims against Matheson, and then in its Amended
Counterclaim also named Matheson's parent company, TNSC,
a Japanese corporation, as counter defendant. Docs. 6, 24.
TNSC has now filed the instant Motion to Dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction. Doc. 41.
maintains that the court can exercise specific jurisdiction
over TNSC as a result of its contacts in this forum relating
to the Pelican project. Doc. 43. 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.” Walk Haydel & Assocs., Inc. v.
Coastal Power Prod. Co., 517 F.3d 235, 243 (5th Cir.
2008) (quoting Panda Brandywine Corp. v. Potomac Elec.
Power Co., 253 F.3d 865, 868 (5th Cir. 2001)). In other
words, “[t]he non-resident's purposefully directed
activities must be such that he could reasonably anticipate
being haled into court in the forum state.” Clemens
v. McNamee, 615 F.3d 374, 378 (5th Cir. 2010). Specific
jurisdiction also requires “a sufficient nexus”
between the cause of action and the defendant's contacts
with the forum. Id. at 378-79. Accordingly, specific
jurisdiction “focuses on the relationship among the
defendant, the forum, and the litigation.” Monkton
Ins. Svcs., Ltd. v. Ritter, 768 F.3d 429, 432-33 (5th
Cir. 2014) (quoting Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115,
1121 (2014)). Under this test, “[e]ven a single,
substantial act directed toward the forum can support
specific jurisdiction.” Dalton v. R&W Marine,
Inc., 897 F.2d 1359, 1361 (5th Cir. 1990).
relies on, inter alia, an affidavit from its president
Michael Williamson. Michael Williamson states that
individuals who represented that they were TNSC employees
were present at the Pelican project site and that TNSC issued
the initial round of revised drawings “which
significantly altered the design of the Project and
Williamson's work on Phase I.” Doc. 43, att. 1;
see doc. 24, p. 3, ¶ 8. TNSC provides an
affidavit from a Matheson executive stating that these
individuals were actually two Matheson executives and an
independent contractor, respectively, at the time complained
of. See doc. 47, att. 1, pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 5-7.
However, one of these individuals was also identified as a
TNSC executive in initial interrogatory
responses and in TNSC's annual report for the
relevant time period. Doc. 43, att. 4, p. 4; doc. 43, att. 5,
conflicting evidence and assertions about TNSC's
involvement in the Pelican project and which employer the
three individuals referenced in the affidavit were actually
serving prevents Williamson of meeting its burden of setting
forth a prima facie case for the exercise of jurisdiction
over TNSC. Therefore we instead consider Williamson's
request for jurisdictional discovery.
decision to allow jurisdictional discovery is within the
district court's discretion, and need not be permitted
unless the motion to dismiss raises issues of fact.
Fielding v. Hubert Burda Media, Inc., 415 F.3d 419,
429 (5th Cir. 2005); Kelly v. Syria Shell Petrol. Dev.
B.V., 213 F.3d 841, 855 (5th Cir. 2000). The court is
also under no obligation to permit a “fishing
expedition” into jurisdictional facts. Best Little
Promohouse in Texas, LLC v. Yankee Pennysaver, Inc.,
2014 WL 5431630, at *4 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 27, 2014).
Furthermore, the court may deny a request to conduct
jurisdictional discovery where the requesting party fails to
identify the discovery needed, the evidence expected to be
obtained thereby, and how such information would advance its
allegations of personal jurisdiction. Equistart Chems.,
LP v. Maschinenfabrik Alfing Kessler GmbH, 2014 WL
3735219, at *1 (citing Kelly, 213 F.3d at 856).
evidence is sufficient to raise issues of fact relating to
the court's ability to exercise personal jurisdiction
over TNSC, specifically relating to TNSC's contacts with
the forum state and the nexus between those contacts and the
claims against TNSC. Although Williamson has not directly
identified the discovery needed, evidence expected to be
obtained thereby, and how such information would support an
exercise/finding of personal jurisdiction, all of these areas
can be inferred from the gaps remaining in Williamson's
effort to carry its burden on the motion to dismiss.
Discovery can be limited in scope to TNSC's contacts in
Louisiana relating to the Pelican Phase I plant, and the
court's ability to exercise specific jurisdiction over
TSNC would hinge on whether Williamson could substantiate its
allegations of TNSC's involvement and show sufficient
IT IS ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss
[doc. 41] be DENIED AS MOOT, that
Williamson's request for jurisdictional discovery [doc.
43] be GRANTED, and that the parties be
allowed an additional three months from the
date of this order to conduct limited jurisdictional
discovery on the issue of TNSC's contacts with the forum
state as those contacts relate to the claims raised in
Williamson's Amended Counterclaim [doc. 24]. TNSC may
bring a second Motion to Dismiss after the conclusion of
discovery, if it desires, with normal briefing deadlines to
 Matheson amended its complaint to
bring additional claims against Williamson, also based on its
alleged breaches relating to completion of the Pelican
project. See doc. 20.
 In a supplemental response, Matheson
again identified this individual (Masami Myobatake, whose
surname is spelled differently in almost every exhibit) as a
potential fact witness but did not identify him as a TNSC
executive, though it does not now dispute the ...