United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction filed by Defendants SCF Lewis and Clark Fleeting
LLC and SCF Lewis and Clark Terminals LLC. R. Doc. 24.
Plaintiff did not file an opposition. For the reasons that
follow, the unopposed motion is GRANTED.
Montrey Thornton (“Thornton”) brings this action
to recover for injuries he allegedly sustained in two
separate incidents while working as a deckhand and crewmember
aboard the M/V DENNIS J. PASENTINE, owned by his employer
Defendant Florida Marine Transporters, LLC (“Florida
Marine”). Thornton alleges that he injured his back in
April of 2017 while handing down a crossover hose on a barge,
and again in October of 2017 while building tow in the Lewis
& Clark Fleet. He brings Jones Act negligence,
unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure claims against
Florida Marine in connection to both incidents.
initial complaint, Thornton alleged that the October incident
was caused by his co-worker's failure to pull his weight
while the two were working with a wire and ratchet. Thornton
amended his complaint when discovery revealed that the person
who did not pull his weight was an employee of the Lewis
& Clark fleet - not a Florida Marine co-worker - and
added SCF Lewis & Clark Fleet, LLC and SCF Lewis &
Clark Terminals, LLC (together, the “Lewis and Clark
Defendants”) as defendants.
Lewis and Clark Defendants, citizens of Delaware and
Missouri, now move to dismiss Thornton's claims against
them for lack of personal jurisdiction. The motion is
LAW AND ANALYSIS
plaintiff bears the burden of proving that personal
jurisdiction exists when challenged by a nonresident
defendant. Luv N' Care, Ltd. v. Insta-Mix, Inc.,
438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006). That burden is met by a
prima facie showing. Johnston v. Multidata Sys. Int'l
Corp., 523 F.3d 602, 609 (5th Cir. 2008). Personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant is proper where (1)
the forum state's long arm statute confers personal
jurisdiction over the defendant and (2) the exercise of
personal jurisdiction complies with the Due Process Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment. Latshaw v. Johnston, 167
F.3d 208, 211 (5th Cir. 1999). Because Louisiana's long
arm statute extends personal jurisdiction to the
constitutional limit, the Court need only consider the
limitations of the Due Process Clause. See La. Rev.
Stat. Ann. § 13:3201(B).
exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant satisfies due process when (1) the defendant has
purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections
of the forum state by establishing “minimum
contacts” and (2) exercising personal jurisdiction does
not offend “traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.” Latshaw, 167 F.3d at
nonresident defendant has engaged in “continuous and
systematic” activities in the state, general
jurisdiction will attach even if the act or transaction sued
upon is unrelated to the defendant's contacts with the
forum state. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 (1984). Where contacts are less
pervasive, a court may exercise specific jurisdiction if the
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, 867 (5th Cir. 2001).
has not established a prima facie case that the Lewis and
Clark Defendants have engaged in “continuous and
systematic” activities in Louisiana that would support
the exercise of general jurisdiction over them. A corporation
must have substantial, continuous, and systematic contacts
with the forum state so as to “render [it] essentially
at home in the forum state.” Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014). “It is,
therefore, incredibly difficult to establish general
jurisdiction in a forum other than the place of incorporation
or principal place of business.” Monkton Ins.
Servs., Ltd. v. Ritter, 768 F.3d 429, 432 (5th Cir.
Lewis and Clark Terminals LLC operates terminals,
warehousing, and transloading facilities for the movement and
storage of bulk commodities. R. Doc. 24-4. None of its
facilities is located in Louisiana. SCF Lewis and Clark
Fleeting LLC operates harbor tugboats and barges. R. Doc.
24-3. None of its boats or barges is located in or navigate
the waters in or around Louisiana. Both of these Lewis and
Clark Defendants are incorporated in Delaware and have
principal places of business in Missouri. They are not
registered in Louisiana and have no offices, facilities, real
estate, physical assets, or bank accounts in the state. R.
Docs. 24-4 and 24-3.
Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case of specific
jurisdiction over the Lewis and Clark Defendants. Specific
jurisdiction “focuses on the relationship among the
defendant, the forum, and the litigation.” Walden
v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121 (2014) (quotation marks
and citations omitted). It exists when “(1) the
nonresident defendant purposefully avails itself of the
privileges of conducting activities in the forum state; and
(2) the controversy arises out of or is related to the
defendant's contacts with the forum state.”
Choice Healthcare, Inc. v. Kaiser Foundation Health
Plain, 615 F.3d 364, 369 (5th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiff's case arises out of an alleged incident in St.
Louis, Missouri. Plaintiff has not alleged that the Lewis and
Clark Defendants have purposefully availed themselves of the
privileges of conducting business in Louisiana or that his
cause of action relates to the Lewis and Clark
Defendants' Louisiana contacts.