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Barkett v. Sentosa Properties, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 6, 2015

WILLIAM BARKETT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SENTOSA PROPERTIES, LLC, et al., Defendants

For William Barkett, Monterey Financial Advisors LLC, Parker Dam Development, Wasco Investments LLC, Barusa LLC, Plaintiffs: David Malcolm Gilmore, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gilmore Wood Vinnard & Magness, Fresno, CA.

For Sentosa Properties LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Defendant: Jessica Leah Sharron, LEAD ATTORNEY, Elizabeth A. Sperling, Alston & Bird, LLP, Los Angeles, CA.

For Arnold Huang, Elizabeth Huang, Eugene Wong, Defendants: Elizabeth A. Sperling, Jessica Leah Sharron, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Alston & Bird, LLP, Los Angeles, CA.

For WF Capital, Inc., Defendant: Jessica Leah Sharron, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alston & Bird, LLP, Los Angeles, CA.

AMENDED ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION

Jennifer L. Thurston, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

Prior to the removal of the action, defendants Arnold Huang, Elizabeth Huang and Eugene Wong moved to quash service of Plaintiffs' Summons and Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 1-4 at 38.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is DENIED.

I. State court service of process

According to the Ninth Circuit, " The state court process becomes null and void on the date the action is removed to the federal court." Beecher v. Wallace, 381 F.2d 372, 373 (1967). Moreover, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1448, in all removed cases " in which any one or more of the defendants has not been served with process or in which the service has not been perfected prior to removal, or in which process served proves to be defective, such process or service may be completed or new process issued in the same manner as in cases originally filed in such district court." Consequently, any defect in service may be cured following the removal of an action when a defendant " has not been served at all with state process." Beecher, 381 F.2d at 373. Because the state court service is " null and void, " and the issue of whether the state of California had personal jurisdiction over the defendants is moot.

II. Personal jurisdiction over Defendants

A district court has the power to exercise personal jurisdiction to the extent of the law of the state in it sits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A); Panavision Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir. 1988). In the absence of a specific statutory provision conferring jurisdiction, federal courts apply the personal jurisdiction laws of the state in which they sit, but California's long-arm jurisdictional statute is " coextensive with federal due process requirements." Panavision, 141 F.3d at 1320. Thus, jurisdiction can be either general, where a party can be compelled into that state's court for any reason, or specific, which permits a court to exercise jurisdiction over a defendant only with regard to a specific activity, transaction, or dispute. See, e.g., Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415-16, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984). Here, the defendants do not reside in the state or regularly conduct business in the state of California. However, the Court may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has established a three-prong test for determining whether a non-resident defendant is subject to specific personal jurisdiction:

(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 that arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and
(3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, ...

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