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Baird v. Shagdarsuren

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

December 5, 2019

KEVIN L. BAIRD, Plaintiff,
v.
OTGONBAATAR SHAGDARSUREN & DBN CARRIER, INC., Defendants, ALLIED PREMIER INSURANCE & R&Q SOLUTIONS, LLC, Third-Party Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Third-Party Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. 82). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the motion and DISMISSES without prejudice all claims against Third-Party Defendants Allied Premier Insurance and R&Q Solutions, LLC.

         I.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         This dispute concerns insurance coverage for an automobile accident. See Doc. 73, DBN Carrier, Inc.'s First Am. Compl., ¶¶ 4.1-4.4. Plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit, Kevin Baird, collided with Defendant Otgonbaatar Shagdarsuren, who was hauling a trailer for Defendant DBN Carrier, Inc. Id. ¶¶ 4.1, 4.3. This collision occurred in Dallas County, Texas. Id. ¶ 4.1. At the time of the accident, Defendant DBN had an automobile insurance policy from Third-Party Defendant Allied Premier Insurance. Id. ¶ 4.2. This policy, DBN alleges, covers “all vehicles used by DBN in conducting any service for which a motor carrier permit is required whether or not the vehicle was listed in the insurance policy.” Id. ¶ 4.2. Accordingly, when Plaintiff Baird sued Defendants Shagdarsuren and DBN after the accident, DBN gave Allied notice of the lawsuit. Id. ¶ 4.4.

         But Allied denied coverage, leading DBN to name Allied a Third-Party Defendant in the lawsuit, [2] seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the policy's coverage for the accident. Id. ¶¶ 4.4-5.4.[3] Specifically, Defendant DBN seeks a declaratory judgment that: (1) Defendant Shagdarsuren's vehicle was entitled to primary coverage under the insurance policy; (2) DBN is entitled to indemnity from Allied under the policy; and (3) Allied is obligated to defend DBN in the underlying lawsuit. Id. ¶¶ 5.2, 5.3. In response, Allied filed a motion to dismiss, contending that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Allied. Doc. 82, Third-Party Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, 1. DBN thereafter responded (Doc. 85), and Allied replied (Doc. 87). Thus, this motion is now ripe for review.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) allows for the dismissal of an action in which the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant. A federal court may assert jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant in a diversity suit if the state's long-arm statute applies and due process is satisfied under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Cycles, Ltd. v. W.J. Digby, Inc., 889 F.2d 612, 616 (5th Cir. 1989). Texas courts have interpreted the Texas long-arm statute as “extending to the limits of due process.” Bullion v. Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 215 (5th Cir.1990). Accordingly, to determine whether it may assert jurisdiction under the Texas long-arm statute, a federal court must determine whether jurisdiction comports with federal constitutional guarantees of due process. Id. at 216.

         “The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant when (1) that defendant has established ‘minimum contacts' with the forum state; and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction over that defendant does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Ruston Gas Turbines, Inc. v. Donaldson Co., Inc., 9 F.3d 415, 418 (5th Cir. 1993) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). “Both prongs of the due process test must be met” for the Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant. See id.

         A nonresident defendant's minimum contacts may either support an assertion of “specific” or “general” jurisdiction. WNS Inc. v. Farrow, 884 F.2d 200, 202 (5th Cir.1989). A court may exercise “specific” jurisdiction when a cause of action arises out of a defendant's purposeful contacts with the forum. Dalton v. R & W Marine, Inc., 897 F.2d 1359, 1361-62 (5th Cir.1990). Alternatively, a court is said to have “general jurisdiction” when a defendant has engaged in continuous and systematic contacts with the forum. Id.

         The party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing the requisite minimum contacts. WNS, 884 F.2d at 203. Further, “uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint must be taken as true, and conflicts between the facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor for purposes of determining whether a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction exists.” D.J. Invs., 754 F.2d at 546 (citations omitted).

         III.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Personal Jurisdiction

         1. Specific Personal Jurisdiction over Allied [4]

         Allied claims that it is not subject to specific jurisdiction, pointing out that its “only tie to Texas is the fortuitous result that a driver for DBN was involved in an automobile accident while driving through Dallas County, Texas.” Doc. 82, Third-Party Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, 2, 7. To support this contention, Allied points to other federal district courts that “have declined to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants in similar situations.” Id. at 8-9 (citing Air Tropiques, Sprl v. N. & W. Ins. Co., 2014 WL 1323046 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 31, 2014) and Satterfield v. Gov. Emps. Ins. Co., 287 F.Supp.3d 1285 (W.D. Okla. 2018)).

         Further, Allied directs the Court to cases “involving a nonresident entity with comparable or more substantial jurisdictional ties to the forum” in which the Fifth Circuit has found no specific jurisdiction over the entity. Id. at 9 (citing Perez v. Pan. Am. Life Ins. Co., 1996 WL 511748 (5th Cir. 1996) (unpublished); Choice Healthcare, Inc. v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan of Colo., 615 F.3d 364 (5th Cir. 2010); Freudensprung v. Offshore Tech. Servs., Inc., 379 F.3d 327 (5th Cir. 2004)). Specifically, Allied notes that in Perez, the Fifth Circuit found no personal jurisdiction where the defendant-insurer's only potential contacts with Texas, the forum state, were “the worldwide coverage language ...


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