United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Tim Moore filed this lawsuit against defendants ANG
Transport, Inc. (“ANG”), Tuff Machinery LLC
(“Tuff”), Moore Brokers Inc., doing business as
Moore Transportation Services (“Moore
Transportation”), and Does 1-10. Plaintiff asserts the
following claims: breach of contract against defendant Tuff,
liability under 49 U.S.C. § 14706 against ANG, and
negligence against Moore Transportation. Currently before the
court is defendant Tuff's Motion to Dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction. (Docket No. 11.)
Factual and Procedural Background
about October 26, 2017, plaintiff contracted with defendant
Tuff to purchase a John Deere Model 650H LT Tractor for $49,
597. (Compl. ¶ 7 (Docket No. 1).) Plaintiff paid for the
tractor by wire transfer that same day. (Id. ¶
8.) Plaintiff and Tuff agreed that Tuff would deliver the
tractor to plaintiff in Nevada County, California.
(Id. ¶ 10.) Tuff hired Moore Transportation to
act as the shipping broker for the tractor shipment.
(Id. ¶ 11.) Moore Transportation then hired ANG
Transport Inc. to deliver the tractor. (Id. ¶
about November 8, 2017, an ANG employee was involved in a
traffic accident and the tractor was destroyed. (Id.
¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that the failure to deliver the
tractor to him prevented him from completing several projects
and, as a result, caused him financial damages. (Id.
¶ 14.) Plaintiff further alleges that he incurred
additional financial damages when he was forced to purchase a
comparable tractor for $65, 500. (Id. ¶ 24.)
only cause of action against Tuff is for breach of contract
for failure to deliver the tractor. (Id.
¶¶ 16-25.) Tuff argues that this court lacks
personal jurisdiction because Tuff is a Texas company that
does not have “minimum contacts” with California
such that this court may exercise personal jurisdiction over
it in connection with plaintiff's claim. (Mot. to Dismiss
(Docket No. 11).)
has the burden of establishing that the court has personal
jurisdiction over a defendant. In re W. States Wholesale Nat.
Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 741 (9th Cir. 2013),
aff'd sub nom., Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc.,
135 S.Ct. 1591 (2015). Where the court does not hold an
evidentiary hearing and the motion is based on the written
materials, the plaintiff need only establish a prima facie
showing of personal jurisdiction. Schwarzenegger v. Fred
Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004). In
such a case, “[u]ncontroverted allegations in the
complaint must be taken as true” and “[c]onflicts
between parties over statements contained in affidavits must
be resolved in the plaintiff's favor.” Id.
there is no applicable federal statute governing personal
jurisdiction, the court applies the law of the state in which
it sits. Love v. Associated Newspapers, Ltd., 611
F.3d 601, 608-09 (9th Cir. 2010). “California's
long-arm jurisdiction statute is coextensive with federal due
process requirements.” Id.
process requires that for a nonresident defendant to be
subject to the court's jurisdiction, the defendant must
“have certain minimum contacts with [the forum state]
such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend
traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington,
326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citation omitted). The strength of
contacts required depends on which of the two categories of
personal jurisdiction a litigant invokes: specific
jurisdiction or general jurisdiction. Ranza v. Nike,
Inc., 793 F.3d 1059, 1068 (9th Cir. 2015) (citing
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014)).
“[A] finding of general jurisdiction permits a
defendant to be haled into court in the forum state to answer
for any of its activities anywhere in the world, ”
Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 801, whereas specific
jurisdiction requires a relationship that “arise[s] out
of contacts that the defendant himself creates with the forum
state, ” Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277, 284
(2014) (quotation omitted; emphasis in original). The court
must thus “look to the defendant's contacts with
the forum State itself, not the defendant's contacts with
persons who reside there.” Walden, 571 U.S. at 285.
Ninth Circuit uses a three-prong test to analyze claims of
specific personal jurisdiction. This analysis requires first
that the non-resident defendant “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.” Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at
802 (quoting Lake v. Lake, 817 F.2d 1416, 1421 (9th
Cir. 1987)). In breach of contract cases such as that at
hand, courts typical examine whether there was
“purposeful availment” of the forum, whereas in
tort cases, the analysis centers on whether there was
“purposeful direction.” See Id.
(“We often use the phrase ‘purposeful
availment,' in shorthand fashion, to include both
purposeful availment and purposeful direction, but availment
and direction are, in fact, two distinct concepts. A
purposeful availment analysis is most often used in suits
sounding in contract. A purposeful direction analysis, on the
other hand, is most often used in suits sounding in
tort.”) (internal citations omitted).
second factor of the Ninth Circuit's three-part test for
evaluating specific personal jurisdiction requires that the
claim “be one which arises out of or relates to the
defendant's forum-related activities.” Id.
The plaintiff has the burden of establishing both of these
first two prongs. Id. (quoting Sher v.
Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990)). If the
plaintiff satisfies the first two prongs, the burden shifts
to the defendant to present a compelling case that the third
prong, which requires that the exercise of jurisdiction
comports with fair play and substantial justice, is not met.
Id. (quoting Burger King Corp. v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476-78 (1985)) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Tuff is a Texas corporation and none of the allegations in
the complaint tend to show that its contacts with California
are so “substantial and continuous” as to give
rise to general jurisdiction. See Pacific Atlantic Trading
Co., 758 F.2d at 1327. The court's analysis will therefore
focus on the question of whether the court has specific
personal jurisdiction over defendant Tuff. Plaintiff advances
two arguments in support of its contention that the
court does, in fact, have such jurisdiction: (1) Tuff sold
and shipped a tractor ...