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Holliday v. Lifestyle Lift

May 3, 2010

REBECCA HOLLIDAY, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LIFESTYLE LIFT, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Seeborg United States District Judge

ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

Named plaintiff Rebecca Holliday brings this wage and hour suit on behalf of two putative classes. The Complaint names defendants Lifestyle Lift, Inc. (apparently a trade name used by Scientific Image Center Management or "SICM") and its corporate officers, David Kent and Gordon Quick.*fn1 The first proposed class is nationwide in scope and advances a claim for failure to pay overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). The second is a California sub-class dependant on California state law which includes among other violations, a claim of failure to provide meal and rest periods. Defendants move to transfer the matter to the Eastern District of Michigan pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) or, in the alternative, to dismiss the individual defendants for want of personal jurisdiction. Holliday contends Kent and Quick created, controlled and directed the employment policies that adversely affected the company's California employees.

Kent and Quick deny sufficient contact with California relating to the harm alleged to merit the exercise of personal jurisdiction. Pertinent facts bearing on the question of jurisdiction are in dispute and, accordingly, the parties may engage in limited discovery on the specific question of personal jurisdiction. Because that issue may have an impact on the determination of whether or not a transfer of venue to the Eastern District of Michigan is appropriate, that issue will remain under submission pending the supplemental briefing contemplated by this Order.

II. RELEVANT FACTS

Holliday and all putative class members were employed by the defendant corporation, SICM, as "scheduling coordinators" or "schedulers" (the parties disagree as to which term is apt).

According to the Complaint, schedulers are "people who work in the reception area of the Defendant's plastic surgery clinics coordinating appointments for the clinic's clients throughout California and the United States." (Compl. ¶ 2.) SICM employs "schedulers" at centers that perform facial plastic surgical procedures; SICM is also responsible for all "managerial" services for each center, including matters relating to human resources and payroll. Apparently, these centers operate under the trade name "Lifestyle Lift." SICM is a Michigan corporation and maintains its principal place of business in Troy, Michigan. SICM asserts that its employment policies were formed at the Troy headquarters, as were its overtime policy, compensation levels and formulas. In this district, SICM manages Lifestyle Lift centers in San Ramon and San Mateo. Defendants acknowledge that each center employs at least one manager and one scheduler.

Kent is SICM's sole shareholder. As defense counsel represented at oral argument, he owns all medical centers in the United States operating under the Lifestyle Lift trade name. Kent claims to have visited California on only a single trip when he toured the San Mateo center. The Complaint alleges Quick acts as SICM's chief executive officer. He admits to having visited California on six occasions since May of 2008. On each of those occasions, he acknowledges visiting the medical centers and their physicians. He also explains that he occasionally discusses SICM business by telephone with on-site managers in California.

When a non-resident defendant asserts a challenge to personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is proper. Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 839 (9th Cir. 1986). In the procedural context of a motion to dismiss based only on pleadings and affidavits, the plaintiff satisfies this burden by presenting a prima facie showing.

III. LEGAL STANDARD & DISCUSSION

Metro. Life Ins. v. Neaves, 912 F.2d 1062, 1064 n.1 (9th Cir. 1990). A court must construe all documents and evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff unless directly contradicted by defendant. Id. Where, as here, there is no applicable federal statute governing personal jurisdiction, the district court applies the law of the state in which the district court sits. See Panavision Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir. 1998). Because California's long-arm jurisdictional statute is coextensive with federal due process requirements, the jurisdictional analyses under state law and federal due process are identical. Toeppen, 141 F.3d at 1320 (citing Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 15

A district court may exercise in personam jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant where that defendant has "minimum contacts" with the forum state such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Unless a defendant's contacts with a forum are so substantial, continuous, and systematic that the defendant can be deemed to be "present" therein for all purposes, only "specific" jurisdiction can be invoked. In contrast to "general" jurisdiction, specific jurisdiction is based on the relationship between the defendant's forum contacts and the plaintiff's claim. Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme Et L'Antisemitisme, 433 F.3d 1199, 1205 (9th Cir. 2006). In this Circuit, the exercise of specific jurisdiction over a defendant is appropriate where his or her contacts with the forum satisfy the following three-prong test:

(1) the non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws;

(2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and ...


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