United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd., Petro Saudi Oil
Services Ltd. and Saturn Drillships Pte. Ltd. (collectively
“PetroSaudi”) filed a motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, or
alternatively on the grounds of forum non conveniens. Rec.
Doc. 16. Plaintiff timely filed an opposition. Rec. Doc. 19.
Defendants then sought, and were granted, leave to file a
reply. Rec. Doc. 26. Plaintiff sought leave to file a
surreply but was denied. Rec. Doc. 33.
reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that
Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED
and Plaintiff's claims against Defendants are
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Ellis Skoglund filed a complaint against defendants
Petrosaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd., Petrosaudi Oil
Servies Ltd., Procurement Services (Delaware) Inc, &
Saturn Drillships Pte. Ltd. alleging negligence under the
Jones Act, unseaworthiness, and failure to fulfill
maintenance and cure obligations. Rec. Doc. 1.
Plaintiff Skoglund was employed as a deck foreman by
PetroSaudi aboard the Petrosaudi Saturn, a drillship located
in waters off Venezuela. See Id. at 2. Plaintiff
alleges that he was moving equipment below deck on the
PetroSaudi Saturn, per his superior's orders, when the
hoist and trolley failed, dropping the equipment on his foot
and resulting in the loss of several toes, a traumatic brain
injury, a brain bleed, legal blindness, and other injuries.
See Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
transported him to Trinidad and Tobago for emergency medical
treatment, and then to Houma, Louisiana for additional
treatment. See Id. at 4.
argues that defendants are his Jones Act employer and are
therefore liable for their negligence, and that of their
employees, which caused his injuries. See Id. at 5.
Defendants filed their answer (Rec. Doc. 5), denying
plaintiff's claims and arguing, among other things, that
the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them as foreign
defendants and that plaintiff's claims are subject to the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales
pursuant to a forum selection clause and choice-of-law clause
included in the employment contract. See Rec. Doc. 5
at 8. Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss (Rec.
Doc. 16). Plaintiff filed a response asserting that
this court has general jurisdiction over defendants pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2) and that the
forum-selection clause is unenforceable.
PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd, Petro Saudi Oil
Services Ltd. and Saturn Drillships Pte. Ltd. (collectively
“PetroSaudi”) filed the instant motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction or alternatively on the
grounds of forum non conveniens. Rec. Doc. 16.
Defendants argue that the case against them should be
dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction because none of
the PetroSaudi defendants are incorporated or have their
principal place of business in Louisiana, and their contacts
with the United States are not so continuous and systematic
as to render them at home in the United States. See
Rec. Doc. 16-1 at 8-13. Furthermore, defendants assert that
plaintiff's employment agreement contains an enforceable
forum selection clause, identifying the Courts of England and
Wales as the proper forum for all claims, and a choice of law
clause selecting English law. See Id. at
14-16. Therefore, defendants argue that the case
should be dismissed under the doctrine of forum non
conveniens. See Id. at 16-19.
argues that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2) provides
the Court jurisdiction because defendants do not concede to
the general jurisdiction of any specific state but their
contacts with the United States as a whole satisfy due
process. See Rec. Doc. 19 at 7. Specifically,
plaintiff alleges that he was recruited to work for
PetroSaudi in Louisiana, and that Petrosaudi has a practice
of recruiting other workers within Louisiana. Id. at
4. Additionally, plaintiff alleges Petrosaudi operates a de
facto business office in Houston. Id. at 5.
Plaintiff claims that both the Human Resources Manager who
managed his healthcare after his injuries occurred, Nysia
Henderson, and the individual who recruited him, Chris
Hudson, are based in Houston. Id. at 4. Plaintiff
asserts that the forum selection clause in the employment
contract, coupled with a choice of law clause, amounts to a
prospective waiver of a statutory right and therefore is void
as against public policy. Id. at 8. Plaintiff
further asserts that the forum selection clause was not feely
negotiated and was not negotiated by parties with equal
bargaining power. Id. at 11.
move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). In a 12(b)(2)
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction,
“the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing
jurisdiction, but need only present prima facie
evidence.” Patterson v. Aker Sols. Inc., 826
F.3d 231, 233 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Revell v.
Lidov, 317 F.3d 467, 469 (5th Cir. 2002)). The Court is
not restricted to pleadings and may consider
“affidavits, interrogatories, depositions, oral
testimony, or any combination of the recognized methods of
discovery.” Revell, 317 F.3d at 469 (5th Cir.
2002). The allegations of the complaint, except as
controverted by opposing affidavits, are taken as true and
all factual conflicts are resolved in the plaintiff's
favor. See Thompson v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 755
F.2d 1162, 1165 (5th Cir. 1985). The Fifth Circuit has stated
that although the plaintiff must make out a prima facie case
of general jurisdiction, conclusory allegations of contacts
with a forum, even if uncontroverted, cannot establish
general jurisdiction. See Panda Brandywine Corp. v.
Potomac Elec. Power Co., 253 F.3d 865, 869 (5th Cir.
2001). The Supreme Court has established that a court may
assert general jurisdiction over foreign corporations when
their “affiliations with the State are so continuous
and systematic as to render them essentially at home in the
forum State.” BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, 137
S.Ct. 1549, 1558 (2017); see also Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, (2014); Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919, (2011).
The paradigm forums in which a foreign corporate defendant is
considered to be at home are the place of incorporation, and
the principal place of business. See BNSF, 137 S.Ct.
at 1558. Additionally, the Court has held that there may be
an “exceptional case” where a corporate
defendant's contacts with another forum are “so
substantial and of such a nature as to render [it] at home in
that State.” Id. (quoting Daimler,
571 U.S. at 139 n. 19). The Court will analyze whether there
is a sufficient basis for the assertion of personal
jurisdiction over defendants or whether dismissal under Rule
12(b)(2) is appropriate below.
asserts that this Court has personal jurisdiction under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2). Rule 4(k)(2)
provides for personal jurisdiction in any district court
“for cases arising under federal law where the
defendant has contacts with the United States as a whole
sufficient to satisfy due process concerns and the defendant
is not subject to jurisdiction in any particular
state.” Adams v. Unione Mediterranea Di
Sicurta, 364 F.3d 646, 650 (5th Cir. 2004). To satisfy
due process, the defendant's contacts with the United
States must be so continuous and systematic as to render it
essentially at home in the United States. See
Patterson, 826 F.3d at 234. The Court will analyze
whether Rule 4(k)(2) provides for personal jurisdiction over
the defendants in this case.
alternatively move for dismissal under the doctrine of
forum non conveniens, in light of the forum
selection clause contained in plaintiff's employment
agreement. The Supreme Court has held that the proper way to
enforce a forum-selection clause pointing to a foreign forum
is through the doctrine of forum non
conveniens, and courts should evaluate the clause in the
same way as they would a clause pointing to a federal forum.
See Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for W.
Dist. of Texas, 571 U.S. 49, 61 (2013). The Fifth
Circuit applies a strong presumption in favor of enforcing
mandatory forum-selection clauses, which can only be overcome
“by a clear showing that [the clause] is
unreasonable.” See Al Copeland Investments, L.L.C.
v. First Specialty Ins. Corp., 884 F.3d 540, 543 (5th
Cir. 2018). Factors to consider in determining whether a
forum-selection clause is unreasonable include: 1) whether
the incorporation of the forum-selection clause into the
agreement was the product of fraud or over overreaching; 2)
whether the party seeking to escape enforcement will, for all
practical purposes, be deprived of its day in court because
of the grave inconvenience or unfairness of the selected
forum; 3) whether the fundamental unfairness of the chosen
law will deprive the plaintiff of a remedy; or 4) whether the
enforcement of the clause would contravene a strong public
policy of the forum state. See Haynsworth v. The
Corporation, 121 F.3d 956, 963 (5th Cir. 1997). In
applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens, normally a
court determines whether there is an adequate alternative
forum, and if so, decides which forum is best suited to
litigation based on private and public interest factors,
giving weight to the plaintiff's choice of forum. See
Barnett v. DynCorp International, L.L.C., 831 f.3D 296,
300 (5th Cir. 2016). However, this analysis differs when
there is a valid forum selection clause. See Atlantic
Marine, 571 U.S. at 63. In the presence of a
forum-selection clause, courts should give no weight to the
plaintiff's choice of forum and should not consider
arguments about parties' private interests because when
parties agree to a forum-selection clause, “they waive
the right to challenge the preselected forum as inconvenient
or less convenient for themselves or their witnesses, or for
their pursuit of the litigation.” Id. at 582
(2013). Therefore, a court may consider arguments about
public-interest factors only. The Court will analyze the
forum selection clause to determine whether it is enforceable
and whether dismissal is appropriate under forum non
This Court cannot exercise general personal jurisdiction
overdefendants and therefore dismissal ...