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Pineda v. Poseidon Personnel Services S.A.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 20, 2019

CLINT PINEDA
v.
POSEIDON PERSONNEL SERVICES S.A., ET. AL.

         SECTION: “B” (2)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         Before the Court are: Defendant Allseas Group S.A.'s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 11), Plaintiff Clint Pineda's Response in Opposition (Rec. Doc. 22), Defendant Allseas Group S.A.'s Reply (Rec. Doc. 39); Defendant Solitaire Transport Chartering (NV)'s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 12), Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition (Rec. Doc. 23), Defendant Solitaire Transport Chartering (NV)'s Reply (Rec. Doc. 33); and Defendant Poseidon Personnel Services, S.A.'s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 13), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Rec. Doc. 24), and Defendant Poseidon Personnel Services, S.A.'s (Rec. Doc. 35). Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant Allseas Group S.A.'s Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 11), Defendant Solitaire Transport Chartering (NV)'s Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 12), Defendant Poseidon Personnel Services, and S.A.'s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 13) are GRANTED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This is a marine personal injury case against three Defendants, Allseas Group S.A. (“AGSA”), Solitaire Transport Chartering (NV) (“STC”), and Poseidon Personnel Services, S.A. (“PPS”). AGSA is a holding company organized under the laws of Switzerland with its principal place of business in Chatel-St. Denis, Switzerland. See Rec. Doc. 11-1 at 1. STC is a Belgian company and the owner of the vessel that plaintiff worked aboard. See Rec. Doc. 12-1 at 14. PPS is a Swiss marine crew supply corporation with its principal place of business in Switzerland. See Rec. Doc. 13-1 at 1. Plaintiff is a resident of Marrero, Louisiana and was hired by PPS in 2001. See id. at 2. He was promoted to welder foreman and signed an updated contract for employment with PPS in 2013. See id. Plaintiff was assigned to work on the P/L SOLITAIRE. See id. Throughout his seventeen years of employment with PPS, plaintiff spent almost all of his time working on the P/L SOLITAIRE.[1] See Rec. Doc. 23 at 2. STC purchased the P/L SOLITAIRE on November 9, 2015. See Rec. Doc. 12-1 at 2.

         On April 20, 2018, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging unseaworthiness and negligence under the Jones Act and general maritime law. See Rec. Doc. 1. Specifically, plaintiff alleges “that on May 24, 2016, he struck his head on a piece of angle iron while descending a stairwell on the P/L SOLITAIRE, which was located in The Netherlands at the time.” Rec. Doc. 11-1 at 2. Plaintiff also alleges that as a result of striking his head, he suffers from “sever and permanently disabling injuries in his lumbar and cervical spine, among other body parts.” Rec. Doc. 1.

         AGSA, STC, PPS each filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. See Rec. Doc. Nos. 11, 12, 13. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to each motion to dismiss. See Rec. Doc. Nos. 22, 23, 24. AGSA, STC, PPS each replied. See Rec. Doc. Nos. 39, 33, 35. In this Order, the Court addresses each motion, along with the relevant, subsequent filings.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Personal Jurisdiction Standard

         Personal jurisdiction attaches over a foreign defendant when a defendant is amendable to service of process under the forum state's long-arm statute and the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process. See Asarco, Inc. v. Glenara, Ltd., 912 F.2d 784, 786 (5th Cir. 1990). The limits of Louisiana's long-arm statute are co-extensive with the limits of constitutional due process, so the inquiry is whether this Court's exercise of jurisdiction over a foreign defendant would offend due process. See Luv N' Care, Ltd., v. Insta-Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006). Accordingly, this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant, if two requirements are satisfied. See Clark v. Moran Towing & Transp. Co., 738 F.Supp. 1023, 1026 (E.D. La. 1990). The first requirement is that the foreign defendant purposefully established “minimum contacts” with the forum state such that maintenance of a lawsuit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. See id. The second requirement is that it would be fair to require the foreign defendant to litigate in the forum state. See id. The plaintiff has the burden to make a prima facie showing that personal jurisdiction is proper. See Luv N' Care, Ltd., 438 F.3d at 469. The Court “must accept as true the uncontroverted allegations in the complaint and resolve in favor of the plaintiff any factual conflicts.” Stripling v. Jordan Prod. Co., LLC, 234 F.3d 863, 869 (5th Cir. 2000). However, the Court is not required to accept conclusory allegation, even if uncontroverted. See Panda Brandywine Corp. v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 253 F.3d 865, 868 (5th Cir. 2001).

         B. Personal Jurisdiction Over AGSA, STC, and PPS

         1. Minimum Contacts

         The minimum contacts analysis asks whether the foreign defendant purposely availed himself of the benefits and protections of the forum. See Sinclair v. StudioCanal, S.A., 709 F.Supp.2d 496, 506 (E.D. La. 2010). Minimum contacts can arise in two ways:

When a cause of action arises out of a defendant's purposeful contacts with the forum, minimum contacts are found to exist[, ] and the court may exercise its "specific" jurisdiction. Even a single, substantial act directed toward the forum can support specific jurisdiction. Where a cause of action does not arise out of a foreign defendant's purposeful contacts with the forum, however, due process requires that the defendant have engaged in "continuous and systematic contacts" in the forum to support the exercise of "general" jurisdiction over that defendant. . .. Contacts of a more extensive quality and nature are required. Asarco, Inc., 912 F.2d at 786.

         The Court will now analyze whether it may exercise specific or general jurisdiction over AGSA, STC, or PPS.[2]

         a. Specific Jurisdiction

         Specific jurisdiction focuses on the relationship between the defendant, the forum, and the lawsuit. See Monkton Insurance Services, Ltd. v. Ritter, 768 F.3d 429, 432-33 (5th Cir. 2016). The relationship must arise out of contacts that the defendant himself created with the forum. See Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277, 277 (2014). Specific jurisdiction is appropriate when a plaintiff's claims arise out of or are related to a defendant's contacts with the forum state. See Clark, 738 F.Supp. at 1026. ‚ÄúSpecific jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation is appropriate when the corporation has purposefully directed its activities at the forum state and the litigation ...


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