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M.T. v. Metropolitan Interpreters and Translators, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 21, 2014

M.T, E.S., and L.P. Plaintiffs,
v.
METROPOLITAN INTERPRETERS AND TRANSLATORS, INC., J.C., L.L., R.P., C.G., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, SONDRA HESTER, DAREK KITLINSKI, and WILLIAM R. SHERMAN, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING L.L.'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

JEFFREY T. MILLER, District Judge.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), Defendant L.L. moves to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction (the "Motion"). Plaintiffs M.T., E.S., and L.P. oppose the motion. Defendants the United States of America, Eileen Zeidler, Sondra Hester, Darek Kitlinski, and William R. Sherman (collectively the "Federal Defendants") and Defendants Metropolitan Interpreters and Translators Inc. ("Metropolitan"), J.C., R.P. and C.G. did not file a response to the Motion. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), the court finds this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

BACKGROUND

The Complaint, filed on August 13, 2013, alleges eight causes of action against Defendants: (1) Violation of Employee Polygraph Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. §2002(1); (2) Violation of Employee Polygraph Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. §2002(2); (3) Violation of Employee Polygraph Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. §2002(3); (4) fraud; (5) negligent misrepresentation; (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (7) negligence; and (8) permanent injunction. Plaintiffs are linguists employed by defendant Metropolitan, a nationwide corporation that "had a contract with the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") and Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") in Imperial County. As employees of Metropolitan, Plaintiffs provided translation services to the DEA and ICE. Defendants L.L., R.P., and C.G. are employees of Metropolitan. (Compl. ¶8-10).

Plaintiffs provide the following summary of their claims:

Plaintiffs worked as linguists for Metropolitan Interpreters and Translators, Inc. ("Metropolitan"), a private corporation that contracted with various governmental agencies nationwide. Metropolitan had a contract with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego. Plaintiffs, as employees of Metropolitan, provided translation services for DEA and ICE in San Diego County. In 2011, Metropolitan and DEA requested, required and demanded that all linguists working in their San Diego and Imperial County offices take polygraph exams. Defendant C.G., the Metropolitan site supervisor in Imperial County, made all arrangements for Plaintiffs take the DEA administered polygraph exams as a condition of employment. If the employees "failed" or refused the test, or had inconclusive results, they would lose their "clearance" to be in the DEA offices, meaning that they would be terminated from their jobs.
Metropolitan was not conducting an investigation involving economic loss to Metropolitan. Nor did Metropolitan have any individualized suspicion that any of the Plaintiffs had committed a crime or engaged in wrongdoing. Rather, Defendants imposed the blanket requirement that every linguist in San Diego and Imperial Counties take polygraphs. Defendants provided no written material to Plaintiffs which explained the purpose of these mandatory tests nor the basis for any investigation or suspicion; nor did Defendants give written notice of the employees' rights under federal and state law.
DEA agents treated Plaintiffs and other Metropolitan employees like criminals after they "failed" the polygraphs. They pressured Plaintiffs into "telling the truth" or accused Plaintiffs of lying. Agents escorted Plaintiffs out of the building in a humiliating fashion after they "failed" the polygraph.
The polygraph testing in this case was prohibited by the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988. 29 U.S.C. §§ 2001, et seq. ("EPPA"). Defendants effectively terminated Plaintiffs from their employment either for "failing" the polygraph test, having an inconclusive test result, or refusing to submit to the examination.

(Compl. at pp.1:4-2:6).

Defendant L.L. is an alleged employee of Metropolitan and Head of Human Resources and Security. (Compl. ¶8). L.L. is a citizen and resident of the State of New York who has never maintained an office, business, or mailing address in the State of California. (L.L. Decl. ¶6). In 2003, L.L. traveled to California as a Human Resources Assistant related to the recruitment and hiring of personnel in California. Id . ¶17. L.L. did maintain numerous communications with Metropolitan's employees in California. L.L. also declares that she had no involvement in the DEA's decision to administer the polygraphs, in the actual administration of the polygraphs, and in the DEA's use of the results of those polygraph tests. Id . ¶18.

L.L. moves to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction based upon her role in the polygraphs. In large part, Plaintiffs' opposition to L.L.'s motion consists of email or letter correspondence either received, sent, or copied to her in her capacity as Human Resources Manager at Metropolitan. (Plaintiffs' Exhs. 1-68, 70).

DISCUSSION

The issue raised by L.L. is whether her contacts with California in her capacity as an employee of a foreign corporation are sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction such that it comports with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial ...


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