United States District Court, S.D. Texas
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
BRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a breach of contract case. Defendant Furniture Mattresses
& More ("FMM") has filed a motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction and under the first-to-file
rule. (D.E. 5.) Because the court lacks personal jurisdiction
over FMM, the court recommends that this case be dismissed
Background and Procedural Posture
Texas Rustic, Inc. ("Texas Rustic") is a Texas
business that sells furniture. The furniture is manufactured
in Mexico and shipped by a third-party transportation company
from Laredo, Texas. FMM is a Maine company that ordered over
$437, 000 in furniture from Texas Rustic. The purchase
contract was negotiated in North Carolina. The furniture was
delivered to FMM in Maine. FMM alleges that the furniture was
defective and therefore it did not pay for all the furniture
that Texas Rustic shipped.
sued Texas Rustic on April 11, 2019, in federal court in
Maine. Texas Rustic sued FMM in Texas state court on May 9,
2019. FMM removed the Texas case to federal court on June 10,
2019. Both parties accuse the other of breach of contract,
and both cases involve the same facts. FMM filed the instant
motion to dismiss on June 17, 2019, and Texas Rustic filed a
similar motion to dismiss in Maine on July 2, 2019. Both
parties dispute that they are subject to personal
jurisdiction outside of their home state.
argues that the court lacks personal jurisdiction because
FMM's contacts with the State of Texas are insufficient
to meet the constitutional due process requirements for a
court to exercise jurisdiction over an out-of-state litigant.
In the alternative, FMM argues that it filed a suit against
Texas Rustic in its home state of Maine before Texas Rustic
filed the present action, and the court should transfer the
case to the District of Maine under the
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the
plaintiff bears the burden to make a prima facie
showing that the court has jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant. See Ham v. La Cienega Music Co., 4 F.3d
413, 415 (5th Cir. 1993); Stuart v. Spademan, 772
F.2d 1185, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985). The court may rely on
affidavits, interrogatories, depositions, oral testimony, or
any combination of the recognized methods of discovery to
determine whether it can assert jurisdiction.
Stuart, 772 F.2d at 1192. Uncontroverted allegations
in a plaintiffs complaint must be taken as true, and
conflicts between the facts contained in the parties'
affidavits must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff.
Bullion v. Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 217 (5th Cir.
1990). After a plaintiff makes its prima facie case, the
burden then shifts to the defendant to present "a
compelling case that the presence of some other consideration
would render jurisdiction unreasonable." Burger King
Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 477 (1985).
federal court has jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant
if the state's long-arm statute confers personal
jurisdiction over that defendant, and if the exercise of
jurisdiction is consistent with due process under the United
States Constitution. Ruston Gas Turbines, Inc. v.
Donaldson Co., 9 F.3d 415, 418 (5th Cir. 1993). Because
the Texas long-arm statute extends to the limits of federal
due process, Schlobohm v. Schapiro, 784 S.W.2d 355,
357 (Tex. 1990), this court must determine whether (1) the
defendants have established "minimum contacts" with
the forum state; and, (2) whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over the defendants would offend
"traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice." Ruston Gas, 9 F.3d at 418 (citing
Int'l Shoe Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316
"minimum contacts" prong is satisfied when a
defendant "purposefully avails itself of the privilege
of conducting activities within the forum state, thus
invoking the benefits and protections of its laws."
Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475. The nonresident
defendant's availment must be such that the defendant
"should reasonably anticipate being haled into
court" in the forum state. World-Wide Volkswagen
Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). This test
"ensures that a defendant will not be haled into a
jurisdiction solely as a result of 'random,'
'fortuitous,' or 'attenuated' contacts, or of
the 'unilateral activity of another party or a third
person.'" Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475
"minimum contacts" prong of the inquiry may be
subdivided into contacts that give rise to
"specific" personal jurisdiction and those that
give rise to "general" personal jurisdiction.
Marathon Oil Co. v. A.G. Ruhrgas, 182 F.3d 291, 295
(5th Cir. 1999). Specific jurisdiction is only appropriate
when the nonresident defendant's contacts with the forum
state arise from, or are directly related to, the cause of
action. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, SA. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n. 8 (1984). On the other hand,
the exercise of general personal jurisdiction is proper when
the nonresident defendant's contacts with the forum
state, even if unrelated to the cause of action, are
continuous, systematic, and substantial. Id. at 414
n. 9; Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Min. Co., 342 U.S.
437, 445 (1952).
Rustic does not argue that FMM has had continuous,
systematic, and substantial contacts with Texas to support
the court's exercise of general personal jurisdiction.
Texas Rustic focuses on specific ...