United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
FEDERICO LOPEZ, ET AL.
MCDERMOTT, INC., ET AL. APPLIES TO 17-8977 ONLY
ORDER & REASONS
E. Fallon U.S. District Court Judge.
the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant
ConocoPhillips Company (“Conoco”). R. Doc. 223.
Plaintiffs Maricela Lopez and Federico Lopez III oppose the
motion.R. Doc. 242. Conoco has filed a reply. R.
Doc. 264. The Court now rules as follows.
case arises out of Plaintiff Federico Lopez' alleged
exposure to asbestos while serving as a pipefitter and welder
at facilities owned and/or operated by
Defendants. R. Doc. 1-2 at 2. Mr. Lopez contends he
contracted malignant mesothelioma as a result of his exposure
and seeks to recover damages for his injuries. Id.
at 4. Mr. Lopez passed away on November 9, 2017. R. Doc. 61
at 1. His surviving spouse, Maricela Lopez, and surviving
child, Federico Lopez III, now maintain the suit on Mr.
Lopez' behalf and assert an additional claim for wrongful
death. R. Doc. 61 at 1.
their second amended complaint, Plaintiffs allege Mr. Lopez
was exposed to asbestos between 1971 and 1973 while working
as a gasket cutter for Defendant Lamons Gasket Company and
again between 1973 and 1986 while working for Kellogg Brown
& Root (“KBR”) as a welder/pipefitter.
Id. at 2. On March 18, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a
Fourth Amended Petition for Damages naming ConocoPhillips
Company (“Conoco”) as a Defendant for the first
time. R. Doc. 196. In this amended complaint, Plaintiffs
allege Mr. Lopez was “was exposed to asbestos during
his work for KBR at premises/sites owned and/or operated by .
. . CONOCOPHILLIPS, as successor in interest to CONOCO, INC.,
CHEVRON CORPORATION, EPL OIL and GAS INC., and TEXACO,
INC.” Id. at ¶ 8(a). They contend his job
responsibilities at the Conoco site required him to
“us[e] or handl[e] asbestos or asbestos-containing
products and/or equipment requiring or calling for the use of
asbestos or asbestos-containing products.” Id.
on this factual background, Plaintiffs bring strict liability
and negligence claims against Defendants for their role in
Mr. Lopez' exposure to asbestos and seek damages for
medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, loss of
consortium, loss of quality of life, and wrongful death.
Id. at 16.
present motion, Defendant Conoco seeks three forms of relief:
(1) dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction, or in the
alternative, (2) dismissal of Plaintiffs' fraud claims,
and (3) a more definite statement. R. Doc. 223-1. The Court
first addresses Conoco's contention that this Court lacks
LAW & ANALYSIS
first challenges whether this Court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over it pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2). R. Doc. 223. When nonresident defendants
like Conoco seek dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction,
the plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing the
court's jurisdiction. See Johnston v. Multidata Sys.
Int'l Corp., 523 F.3d 602, 609 (5th Cir. 2008). If
the Court rules on the pleadings without first holding an
evidentiary hearing, the plaintiffs are required only to make
a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Id.
In determining whether the plaintiffs have met its burden,
the Court may consider affidavits, interrogatories,
depositions, or any other appropriate method of discovery.
Wilson v. Belin, 20 F.3d 644, 648 (5th Cir. 1994).
Under this analysis, the court “must accept as true
[the plaintiffs'] uncontroverted allegations, and resolve
in [their] favor all conflicts between the [jurisdictional]
facts contained in the parties' affidavits and other
documentation.” Pervasive Software, Inc. v. Lexware
GmbH & Co. KG, 688 F.3d 214, 219-20 (5th Cir. 2012)
(quoting Freudensprung v. Offshore Tech. Servs.,
Inc., 379 F.3d 327, 343 (5th Cir. 2004) (alterations in
original) (quotation omitted)).
federal district court may exercise personal jurisdiction
over a nonresident defendant if “(1) the forum
state's long-arm statute confers personal jurisdiction
over that defendant; and (2) the exercise of personal
jurisdiction comports with the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment.” McFadin v. Gerber, 587
F.3d 753, 759 (5th Cir. 2009). Because Louisiana's
long-arm statute extends as far as constitutional due process
allows, the Court proceeds directly to the second step of the
inquiry. See La. R.S. 13:3201 (“[A] court of
this state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident on any basis consistent with the constitution of
this state and of the Constitution of the United
States.”); see also Hunter v. Meyers, 96-1075,
p. 3 (La.App. 1 Cir. 3/27/97), 691 So.2d 318, 320.
exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant comports with the guarantees of federal due process
when the nonresident defendant has established minimum
contacts with the forum state and the exercise of
jurisdiction “does not offend ‘traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.'”
Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of
Unemp't Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310 (1945)
(quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457 (1940)).
“There are two types of ‘minimum contacts':
those that give rise to specific personal jurisdiction and
those that give rise to general personal jurisdiction.”
Lewis v. Fresne, 252 F.3d 352, 358 (5th Cir. 2001).
“The ‘minimum contacts' inquiry is fact
intensive and no one element is decisive; rather[, ] the
touchstone is whether the defendant's conduct shows that
it ‘reasonably anticipates being haled into
court.'” McFadin, 587 F.3d at 759. Because
in this case it is undisputed that the Court lacks general
jurisdiction over Conoco, see R. Doc. 223 at 9; R.
Doc. 264 at 1, the relevant inquiry is whether the Court can
exercise specific jurisdiction over Conoco.
jurisdiction lies when the alleged injuries arise from or are
directly related to the nonresident defendant's contacts
with the forum state. Gundle Lining Const. Corp. v. Adams
Cty. Asphalt, Inc., 85 F.3d 201, 205 (5th Cir. 1996)
(citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408 (1984) and Quick Techs., Inc. v.
Sage Grp. PLC, 313 F.3d 338, 344 (5th Cir. 2002). To
determine whether specific jurisdiction exists, a court must
“examine the relationship among the defendant, the
forum, and the litigation to determine whether maintaining
the suit offends traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.” Gundle Lining, 85 F.3d
at 205. Contrary to Conoco's assertion that these
contacts must be “systemic, ” even a single
contact can support specific jurisdiction if the defendant