United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
MATHESON TRI-GAS, INC.
WILLIAMSON GENERAL CONTRACTORS, INC.
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is a Magistrate Appeal (Record Document 50) filed
by Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation
(“TNSC”). TNSC objects to and appeals the Magistrate
Judge's Memorandum Order (Record Document 48) dated July
27, 2018, granting defendant Williamson General Contractors,
Inc.'s (“Williamson”) request for
jurisdictional discovery and denying as moot TNSC's
motion to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the
Magistrate Appeal (Record Document 50) is
DENIED and Magistrate Judge Kay's
Memorandum Order (Record Document 48) of July 27, 2018 is
party may appeal a magistrate judge's ruling on a
non-dispositive matter to a district court judge under Rule
72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule
74.1. The decision by Magistrate Judge Kay to grant
Williamson's request for jurisdictional discovery is a
non-dispositive matter. It is an order from the magistrate
judge on a non-dispositive matter that requires the district
court to uphold the ruling unless it is clearly erroneous or
contrary to law. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)
& Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see also Castillo v.
Frank, 70 F.3d 382, 385 (5th Cir. 1995); Perales v.
Casillas, 950 F.2d 1066, 1070 (5th Cir.1992). This Court
will review the Magistrate Judge's legal conclusions
de novo, and will review her factual findings for
clear error. See Escamilla v. M2 Tech., Inc., 581
Fed.Appx. 449, 451 (5th Cir. 2014); Choate v. State Farm
Lloyds, No. 03-CV-2111, 2005 WL 1109432, *1 (N.D.Tex.
May 5, 2005).
matter began as a breach of contract suit involving the
building of Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc.'s Pelican Phase I
plant. Matheson alleged that its contractor, Williamson,
demanded additional, unreasonable sums to complete the
facility and then abandoned the project, in breach of the
parties' agreements. See Record Document 1.
Williamson filed counterclaims against Matheson and then, in
an amended counterclaim, also named Matheson's parent
company, TNSC, a Japanese corporation, as a counter
defendant. See Record Documents 6 and 24. TNSC then
filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
See Record Document 41. Williamson countered that
the court could exercise specific jurisdiction over TNSC as a
result of its contacts in this forum related to the Pelican
Phase I plant. See Record Document 43.
support of its assertion of specific jurisdiction, Williamson
relied upon, inter alia, an affidavit from its
president wherein he stated that individuals who represented
that they were TNSC employees were present at the Pelican
Phase I plant and that TNSC issued an initial set of revised
drawings. See id. TNSC countered with its own
affidavit that the individuals were not TNSC employees.
See Record Document 47, Ex. A. However, Magistrate
Judge Kay specifically noted in her Memorandum Order that one
of these individuals was also identified as a TNSC executive
in initial interrogatory responses and in TNSC's annual
report. See Record Document 48 at 2-3. She then
observed that “[t]he 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.” Id.
at 3. Therefore, she turned to the request for jurisdictional
discovery. She concluded that Williamson's evidence was
“sufficient to raise issues of fact related 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.” Id.
instant appeal, TNSC contends that Magistrate Judge Kay erred
because she should have recommended dismissal of the amended
counterclaim against TNSC and not allowed Williamson's
request for jurisdictional discovery based upon its scant
assertions of jurisdiction and need. See Record
Document 50. The Court disagrees. Magistrate Judge Kay's
decision to deny the motion to dismiss as moot and grant
Williamson's request for jurisdictional discovery was a
proper exercise of judicial discretion and was neither
clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Moore v. Ford Motor
Co., 755 F.3d 802, 808 (5th Cir. 2014)
(“[D]iscovery decisions of the trial judge [are
reviewed] for abuse of discretion.”).
plaintiff is not entitled to jurisdictional discovery when
‘the record shows that the requested discovery is not
likely to produce the facts needed to withstand a Rule
12(b)(1) motion.'” Monkton Ins. Servs., Ltd. v.
Ritter, 768 F.3d 429, 434 (5th Cir. 2014), quoting
Freeman v. United States, 556 F.3d 326, 342 (5th
Cir. 2009). This is simply not the case herein. The Court
agrees with Magistrate Judge Kay's analysis that
Williamson's evidence was “sufficient to raise
issues of fact related 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.”
Record Document 48 at 3. The Magistrate Judge's ruling as
to Williamson's request for jurisdictional discovery and
resulting denial of TNSC's motion to dismiss as moot
will, therefore, be upheld.
IT IS ORDERED that the Magistrate Appeal
(Record Document 50) filed by TNSC is DENIED
and that Magistrate Judge Kay's Memorandum Order (Record
Document 48) of July 27, 2018 is AFFIRMED.
DONE AND SIGNED.
TNSC made a special appearance in the
litigation solely for the purpose of filing a Motion To
Dismiss For Lack Of Personal Jurisdiction. See
Record Document 41.
Magistrate Judge Kay also acknowledged
that Williamson had not directly identified the discovery
needed but attributed this to “the gaps remaining in
Williamson's effort to carry its burdeon on the motion to