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Rowland v. Paris Las Vegas

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 6, 2014

ELIZABETH ROWLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
PARIS LAS VEGAS, CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT OPERATING COMPANY, INC., and DOES 1 to 25, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER: 1) DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [Dkt. No. 11.] 2) VACATING MOTION HEARING

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Elizabeth Rowland's ("Plaintiff") First Amended Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Specially Appearing Defendants Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Paris Las Vegas Operating Company, LLC[1]. (Dkt. No. 11.) The parties have fully briefed the motion. (Dkt. Nos. 13, 14.) The Court finds the motion suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Upon review of the moving papers, admissible evidence, and applicable law, the Court DENIES Defendants' Motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Plaintiff's Allegations

This action arises out of Plaintiff's May 2013 visit to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada ("Paris Las Vegas Hotel"). (Dkt. No. 8, "FAC" ¶¶ 10, 15.) Plaintiff alleges slipping upon a "clear filmy substance" substance on the tile flooring at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel on May 16, 2013, causing her to fall and sustain personal injuries including a broken hip. (FAC ¶ 15.) Plaintiff alleges her injuries "will result in some permanent disability to her, " and that the injuries "have caused, and will continue to cause, Plaintiff great mental, physical, and nervous pain and suffering." (FAC ¶ 20.)

II. Procedural History

On September 6, 2013, Plaintiff Elizabeth Rowland ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint against Paris Las Vegas and Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc. in California Superior Court. (Dkt. No. 1, Ex. 3 "Compl.") On March 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") alleging one cause of action for negligence. (Dkt. No. 8, FAC.) The FAC identifies Defendant "Paris Las Vegas, " upon information and belief, as "Paris Las Vegas Propco, LLC." (FAC ¶ 4.) On June 26, 2014, Defendants filed the present motion to dismiss or transfer venue pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(3). (Dkt. No. 11.)

III. Jurisdictional Allegations

Plaintiff is a resident of the County of San Diego, California. (FAC ¶ 1.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant Caesars Entertainment Corporation operates the Harrah's Rincon Hotel and Casino in Valley Center, California and is the 100% direct owner of Defendant Paris Las Vegas Propco, LLC. (FAC ¶¶ 3, 4.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant Caesars Entertainment Corporation started an "industry revolutionizing" Total Rewards loyalty program in 1997 designed to market cross-property play to a "large and recurring customer base in California" between the Harrah's Rincon Hotel and Casino in Valley Center, California and the Paris Las Vegas Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. (FAC ¶ 6.)

Plaintiff further alleges frequenting the Harrah's Rincon Hotel and Casino "at all times herein mentioned, and particularly for the last few calendar years." (FAC ¶ 13.) According to Plaintiff, she was and is a member of the Total Rewards loyalty program, earning "points" toward the program by staying and/or gambling at the Harrah's Rincon Hotel and Casino. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges receiving frequent announcements, advertisements, and offers to redeem Total Reward loyalty program points at Caesars hotel and casino properties, including the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges the room she stayed at in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino on May 16, 2013 was given to her on a complimentary basis, arranged for by Joseph Izidoro, Executive Casino Host at Harrah's Rincon Hotel and Casino in Valley Center, California. (FAC ¶ 14; Dkt. No. 13-3, Holcombe Decl. ¶ 5; Dkt. No. 13-4, Holcombe Decl. ¶ 5.)

LEGAL STANDARD

The exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant must be authorized under both state and federal law. St. Ventures, LLC v. KBA Assets & Acquisitions, LLC, 1:12-CV-01058-LJO, 2013 WL 1749901 at *3 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 23, 2013). California's long-arm statute is coextensive with the limits of due process set by the United States Constitution. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 410.10. Thus, "the jurisdictional analyses under state law and federal due process are the same." Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Techs., Inc. , 647 F.3d 1218, 1223 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1101 (2012).

Due process requires that a defendant "must have certain minimum contacts' with the relevant forum such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Mavrix Photo , 647 F.3d at 1223 (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)).

The type of minimum contacts required to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant may be "specific" or "general" in nature. A court may have general jurisdiction over a defendant where "the defendant's contacts with the forum state are so pervasive as to justify the exercise of jurisdiction over the person in all matters." St. Ventures, 2013 WL 1749901 at *3. Specific jurisdiction, on the other hand, "arises out of the defendant's contacts with the forum giving rise to the subject of the litigation" and only applies to the case at issue. Id.

When a defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing that jurisdiction is proper. Washington Shoe Co. v. A-Z Sporting Goods Inc. , 704 F.3d 668, 671-72 (9th Cir. 2012). Each defendant's contacts with the forum state must be considered individually, unless the plaintiff establishes the defendant's actions are reasonably attributable to the other defendants. SDS Korea Co., Ltd. v. SDS USA, Inc. , 732 F.Supp.2d 1062, 1071 (S.D. Cal. 2010) (citing Indiana Plumbing Supply, Inc. v. Standard of Lynn, Inc. , 880 F.Supp. 743, 750-51 (C.D. Cal. 1995)). In the absence of an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a "prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss.'" Id . (quoting Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy , 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006)).

Under this prima facie burden of proof, the plaintiff need only establish facts, through admissible evidence, that if true would support personal jurisdiction over the defendant. See Ballard v. Savage , 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995) (citing Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assocs., Inc. , 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 1977). Uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true. AT & T Co. v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert , 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th Cir. 1996). However, the court may not assume the truth of such allegations if they are contradicted by affidavit. Data Disc, Inc. , 557 F.2d at 1284. All disputed facts must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff. Washington Shoe , 704 F.3d at 671-72; see also AT & T Co. , 94 F.3d at 588 ("[C]onflicts between the facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be resolved in [plaintiff's] favor for purposes of deciding whether a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction exists.") (quoting WNS, Inc. v. Farrow , 884 F.2d 200, 203 (5th Cir. 1989)).

DISCUSSION

I. Proper Defendants

The Court first notes that although the FAC includes allegations against "Caesars Entertainment Corporation" and "Paris Las Vegas Propco, LLC, " the caption lists Defendants as "Paris Las Vegas" and "Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc." (Dkt. No. 8.) Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 10(a), every pleading must have a caption that names all the parties to the action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a). However, the Ninth Circuit has held that "the question of whether a defendant is properly named in a case is not resolved by merely reading the caption of a complaint. Rather, a party may be properly in a case if the allegations in the body of the complaint make it plain that the party is intended as a defendant." Rice v. Hamilton Air Force Base Commissary , 720 F.2d 1082, 1085 (9th Cir. 1983) (citing Hoffman v. Halden , 268 F.2d 280 (9th Cir. 1959)). Accordingly, the Court considers the present motion to dismiss or transfer venue in relation to Plaintiff's allegations against Defendants Caesars Entertainment Corporation ("Caesars"), and Paris Las Vegas Propco, LLC ("Paris Las Vegas Propco").

In addition, Defendants' counsel submits a declaration acknowledging that, subsequent to Plaintiff's filing of the FAC, "Paris Las Vegas Propco, LLC" has been dissolved and has transferred ownership of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel to an entity named "Paris Las Vegas Operating Company, LLC." (Dkt. No. 11-3, Roberts Decl. ¶ 6.) Defendants' counsel declares that she provided this information to Plaintiff's counsel on April 29, 2014, but that "ROWLAND's counsel took no action to name the correct owner of Paris Las Vegas." (Id.) (emphasis in original). Accordingly, Defendants' motion indicates that it is filed by "Paris Las Vegas Operating Company, LLC (erroneously named herein as Paris Las Vegas Propco, LLC). (Dkt. No. 11.)

However, the Parties have not, by motion or joint motion, moved to amend the FAC or the case caption or to substitute Paris Las Vegas Operating Company into the present action as a successor-in-interest. Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(c). Unless and until a proper motion is made by any Party to substitute Paris Las Vegas Operating Company, LLC into the present action, the Court addresses the present motion in relation to Defendant Paris Las Vegas Propco, LLC as the owner/operator of the Paris Las Vegas ...


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