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Bezner v. Poehler

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

April 8, 2019

COLE BEZNER, Plaintiff,
v.
JEREMY POEHLER, NATIONAL DEBT HOLDINGS LLC, and ELMVIEW MANAGEMENT SERVICES INC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Jermey Poehler's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. 4). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS this Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Cole Bezner brings suit against Defendant Jeremy Poehler and two alleged debt-collection agencies for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Texas Finance Code. Doc. 1, Compl., ¶¶ 3, 13, 20, 26. Plaintiff alleges that Poehler is a debt collector, and liable under both statutes, as well as under the common law cause of action of intrusion upon seclusion. Id. ¶¶ 26, 96-105. According to Plaintiff, Poehler resides in New York, actively manages one of the collection agencies-Defendant National Debt Holdings LLC (NDH)-and is its sole director. Id. ¶¶ 21-26. Furthermore, Poehler is alleged to have had wide-ranging control over the collection procedures actually used by the collection agencies and their employees. Id. ¶ 55.

         Poehler argues that Plaintiff fails to meet its burden to show that this Court has personal jurisdiction over him. See Doc. 4, Mot. to Dismiss. As all responsive briefing has been received, the Court now addresses that issue.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a trial court's personal jurisdiction over each defendant. Stuart v. Spademan, 772 F.2d 1185, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985). A plaintiff need only establish a prima facie case of jurisdiction; proof by a preponderance of the evidence is not required. Wien Air Alaska, Inc. v. Brandt, 195 F.3d 208, 211 (5th Cir. 1999); Jones v. Petty-Ray Geophysical, Geosource, Inc., 954 F.2d 1061, 1067 (5th Cir. 1992). To satisfy that burden, the plaintiff must “present sufficient facts as to make out only a prima facie case supporting jurisdiction, ” if a court rules on a motion to dismiss without an evidentiary hearing. Cunningham v. CBC Conglomerate, LLC, 2019 WL 452749, at (E.D. Tex. Feb. 5, 2019) (quoting Apline View Co. v. Atlas Copco AB, 205 F.3d 208, 215 (5th Cir. 2000)).

         “When considering the motion to dismiss, ‘allegations in a plaintiff's complaint are taken as true except to the extent that they are contradicted by defendant's affidavits.'” Id. (alterations incorporated) (quoting Int'l Truck & Engine Corp. v. Quintana, 259 F.Supp.2d 553, 557 (N.D. Tex. 2003) (citing Wyatt v. Kaplan, 686 F.2d 276, 282-83 n.13 (5th Cir. 1982))); accord Black v. Acme Mkts., Inc., 564 F.2d 681, 683 n.3 (5th Cir. 1977). “Further, ‘[a]ny genuine, material conflicts between the facts established by the parties' affidavits and other evidence are resolved in favor of plaintiff for the purposes of determining whether a prima facie case exists.'” Id. (quoting Quintana, 259 F.Supp.2d at 557 (citing Jones, 954 F.2d at 1067).

         In establishing personal jurisdiction, two preconditions must be met: (1) the nonresident defendant must be amenable to service of process under the Texas long-arm statute; and (2) the assertion of jurisdiction over the nonresident must comport with the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Jones, 954 F.2d at 1067. Because the Texas long-arm statute has been held to extend to the limits of the Due Process Clause, the Court need only determine whether jurisdiction over the defendant is constitutionally permissible. Id. at 1067-68 (citing Schlobohm v. Schapiro, 784 S.W.2d 355, 357 (Tex. 1990)).

         To meet the federal constitutional test of due process, two elements must be satisfied: (1) the defendant must have purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of the forum state by establishing “minimum contacts” with that state such that it would reasonably anticipate being brought to court there; and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant must not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. Id. at 1068.

         The “minimum contacts” prong of the due process analysis can be met through contacts that give rise to either general or specific jurisdiction. Gundle Lining Constr. Corp. v. Adams Cnty. Asphalt, Inc., 85 F.3d 201, 205 (5th Cir. 1996). “General personal jurisdiction is found when the nonresident defendant's contacts with the forum state, even if unrelated to the cause of action, are continuous, systematic, and substantial.” Marathon Oil Co. v. Ruhrgas, 182 F.3d 291, 295 (5th Cir. 1999). In contrast, specific jurisdiction exists “only when the nonresident defendant's contacts with the forum state arise from, or are directly related to, the cause of action.” Gundle, 85 F.3d at 205.

         Once the plaintiff satisfies the minimum-contacts test, the burden shifts to the defendant to demonstrate that the forum court's exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant would be unfair. Nuovo Pignone, SpA, v. Storman Asia M/V, 310 F.3d 374, 382 (5th Cir. 2002) (abrogated on other grounds by Water Splash, Inc. v. Menon, 137 S.Ct. 1504 (2017)). “In conducting the fairness inquiry, [courts] examine (1) the burden on the nonresident defendant, (2) the forum state's interests, (3) the plaintiff's interest in securing relief, (4) the interest of the interstate judicial system in the efficient administration of justice, and (5) the shared interest of the several states in furthering fundamental social policies.” Luv N' care, Ltd. v. Insta-Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 473 (5th Cir. 2006).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Genera ...


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