United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER RE MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO. 48
DONATO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action arises out of “a bitter and nasty” divorce
between plaintiff Danielle Malmquist, who is proceeding pro
se, and her ex-husband, defendant Shem Malmquist. Dkt. No. 1
at 5. Because the parties share the same last name, the Court
uses their given names for clarity. The complaint alleges
that Shem and his wife Meredith sponsored online posts saying
that Danielle had mental health issues and a criminal record.
Danielle has sued for defamation and intentional interference
with prospective economic advantage under California state
and Meredith, who are the only defendants who have been
served with the complaint, contend that the Court lacks
personal jurisdiction over them. They have moved to dismiss
the case on that basis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2). Dkt. No. 48.
facts pertinent to the jurisdictional question are
straightforward. The complaint alleges that Danielle lives in
California, and that Shem and Meredith are residents of
Florida. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 4. The complaint does not show
that Shem and Meredith did anything in California or this
judicial district that was material to Danielle's claims.
To carry her burden of establishing personal jurisdiction,
see Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th
Cir. 2008), Danielle contends in her brief that Shem and
Meredith have occasionally visited their children in
California, and that Shem sometimes had a layover in the
state while working as a pilot for Federal Express. Dkt. No.
52 at 10-11.
construed generously in light of Danielle's pro se
status, nothing in the complaint or the record as a whole
establishes personal jurisdiction over Shem and Meredith in
this Court. Where, as here, no federal statute authorizes
personal jurisdiction, the Court applies the law of the state
in which it sits. Panavision Int'l, L.P. v.
Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir. 1998).
California's long-arm statute, Cal. Code Civ. Proc.
§ 410.10, is coextensive with the limits of the
Constitution's due process clause, so the dispositive
test is whether personal jurisdiction in this Court comports
with traditional concepts of fair play and due process.
Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d
797, 800-01 (9th Cir. 2004).
Shem and Meredith live outside the state, and are not alleged
to have any continuous and systematic contacts with it,
general personal jurisdiction has not been shown. See
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California,
S.F. Cty., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1780 (2017);
Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 801.
personal jurisdiction is also lacking. Specific jurisdiction
focuses on the defendant's contacts with the forum state
for the claims at issue. Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S.
277, 284 (2014). This is “case-linked”
jurisdiction, and it looks to whether the defendant undertook
an activity or occurrence in the forum state “and is
therefore subject to the State's regulation.”
Id. at 283 n.6 (internal quotation omitted). It is
the defendant's “suit-related conduct” that
“must create a substantial connection with the forum
State.” Id. at 284. The suit must arise out of
or relate to the defendant's contacts “with the
forum” for specific personal jurisdiction to
arise. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 137 S.Ct. at 1780
(internal quotation omitted) (emphasis in original). Without
that connection, “specific jurisdiction is lacking
regardless of the extent of a defendant's unconnected
activities in the State.” Id. at 1781.
the case here. Danielle has not proffered any facts showing
that her defamation or interference claims arose out of
anything Shem and Meredith did in this forum. The periodic
family and business trips are entirely unrelated to the
claims in the complaint, and merely posting materials online,
which the Court will assume happened for present purposes, is
not enough to create personal jurisdiction in this district.
See Erickson v. Nebraska Mach. Co., No.
15-CV-01147-JD, 2015 WL 4089849 at *4 (N.D. Cal. July 6,
2015). So too for the uncontested facts about a California
state family law case in Los Angeles involving Shem and a
different spouse, which appears to date back to 2002 and does
not change the fact that Shem moved out of California in
2004. See Dkt 53-1.
remaining question is whether Danielle should be allowed to
amend the complaint with respect to personal jurisdiction.
While the Court is not sanguine about the likelihood of
success in light of the undisputed facts adduced so far, it
cannot say that amendment is necessarily futile. If Danielle
would like to amend to add facts showing personal
jurisdiction along the lines discussed in this order, she
must file an amended complaint by October 2,
2019. No new claims or parties may be added. If an
amended complaint is not filed by this deadline, the case
will be dismissed with prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil
IS SO ORDERED.
undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the
Office of the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District
September 4, 2019, I SERVED a true and correct copy(ies) of
the attached, by placing said copy(ies) in a postage paid
envelope addressed to the person(s) hereinafter listed, by
depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail, or by placing said