United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Hornsby, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Tappe, a resident of Caddo Parish, enrolled in classes at the
Divers Institute of Technology (“DIT”) in
Seattle, Washington. He was, unfortunately, found dead in his
Seattle apartment two days after a deep dive. Samuel's
mother, Jayne Tappe (“Plaintiff” or “Ms.
Tappe”), filed this wrongful death and survival suit
the court is DIT's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal
Jurisdiction or in the Alternative Transfer Venue (Doc. 12).
DIT argues that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over it
and should dismiss the complaint without prejudice, or in the
alternative, transfer the action to the Western District of
Washington, which is a more convenient venue and can exercise
personal jurisdiction over DIT. For the reasons that follow,
it is recommended that the motion be granted by transferring
venue of this action to the Western District of Washington.
pretrial motion that challenges personal jurisdiction, where
no evidentiary hearing is held, the uncontroverted
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint must be taken as
true, and any conflicts between facts contained in the
parties' affidavits must be resolved in the
plaintiff's favor. Bullion v. Gillespie, 895
F.2d 213, 217 (5th Cir.1990). The following recitation of
facts is based on the allegations in the complaint (except as
Plaintiff agreed during briefing were different) and the
uncontested affidavit testimony of the executive director of
was a member of the United States Army. After completing his
enlistment and returning to his home in Shreveport, he
enrolled in DIT by completing an application on the
school's website. He was accepted and later signed an
enrollment agreement at the school's offices in Seattle,
Washington. Classes at the school are limited to no more than
30 students, admission standards are demanding, and tuition
and fees exceed $30, 000 for a 28-week course.
school session began in April 2016. He and his classmates
engaged in a deep 124-feet dive in Lake Washington on or
about October 26, 2016. Plaintiff alleges that within 12 to
24 hours after the dive, two of Samuel's classmates
suffered from decompression sickness, and at least one of
them was treated in a decompression chamber.
who had received a commendation for perfect attendance, did
not attend class or testing on the following two days. No.
one from DIT called Samuel or went to his apartment, which
was only five or six blocks from the campus, to check on him.
A classmate asked the Seattle police to check on Samuel on
the evening of October 28, 2016, after Samuel did not respond
to calls or answer the door. The police and fire department
found Samuel deceased and opined that his death was the
result of a complication from diving.
asserts claims for survival damages and wrongful death. She
alleges that “the equipment used during the deep dive
was faulty, improperly maintained, and/or contained an
improper mixture of gases for use during the October 26, 2016
dive.” She alleges that DIT “negligently failed
to check on” Samuel after he failed to attend class and
testing, and she contends that DIT “failed to properly
maintain the diving equipment used” during the deep
motion is accompanied by an affidavit from its executive
director, who sets forth several facts regarding the school.
First, it has been owned and operated by DIT, LLC since June
2000. The LLC was formed under Washington law, and its
principal place of business is Seattle. It has no office,
real estate, or bank accounts in Louisiana. None of the
principals of the LLC reside in Louisiana. The school is
licensed under the laws of the State of Washington. It does
not purposefully recruit students in Louisiana, nor does it
advertise in any Louisiana-based television, radio, or print
media. Between 2012 and 2018, DIT enrolled 1, 500 students,
only six of whom were Louisiana residents, making them only
0.4% of DIT students during that time.