United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
CARLOS E. JEAN-GILLES, Plaintiffs,
FABIOLA JEAN GILLES, ESQ. a/k/a FABIOLA MALDONADO, ESQ., et. al., Defendant
Carlos E. Jean-Gilles, Plaintiff, Pro se, St. Louis, MO.
Fabiola Jean-Gilles, Esq., also known as Fabiola Maldonado, Defendant, Pro se, Tempe, AZ.
For JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., Defendant: Rhiana A. Luaders, LEAD ATTORNEY, BRYAN CAVE LLP, St. Louis, MO.
For Nation Wide Title Clearing, Defendant: Jonathan D. Valentino, LEAD ATTORNEY, ARMSTRONG TEASDALE, LLP, St. Louis, MO.
For 177 Thompson Street Owners Corp., Defendant: Rodney A. Harrison, LEAD ATTORNEY, Nathan J. Harris, OGLETREE AND DEAKINS, St. Louis, MO.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Jean C. Hamilton, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Fabiola Jean-Gilles' (" Ms. Jean-Gilles") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's " Revised" Third Amended Complaint,  (ECF No. 67); Defendant 177 Thompson Owners Corp.'s (" Thompson") Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 60); Defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.'s (" Chase") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 73); and Defendant Nationwide Title Clearing's (" Nationwide") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 75). The motions have been fully briefed and are ready for disposition.
Plaintiff Carlos Jean-Gilles (" Mr. Jean-Gilles") initiated this action by filing a complaint with this Court on April 30, 2014. (ECF No. 1). Mr. Jean-Gilles' original complaint has undergone several amendments, and the one currently in effect is the Third Amended Complaint (the " Complaint"), filed September 17, 2014. (Complaint, ECF No. 56). The Complaint allegedly is based on " distinct tortious acts perpetrated by Fabiola Jean-Gilles, Esq. . .., an Arizona citizen, and JP Morgan Chase . .., a national bank with its principal place of business located in New York, N.Y. The other two parties [ Thompson and Nationwide] simply colluded with the first two." (Complaint ¶ 1). These alleged tortious actions all involve a " cooperative apartment [the " Property" ] that is jointly owned by [Ms. Jean-Gilles and Mr. Jean-Gilles] with right of survivorship . . . ." Id. ¶ 7. " The apartment . . . is located in New York City." Id.
Mr. Jean-Gilles alleges that Ms. Jean-Gilles, through Chase, paid " the original small mortgage that was on the Property" and encumbered the Property with a new mortgage. Id. ¶ 60. Mr. Jean-Gilles claims that this refinancing was illegal because it occurred without his authorization despite his joint ownership of the Property. Id. In addition to the illegal refinancing of the Property, Ms. Jean-Gilles allegedly has withheld from Mr. Jean-Gilles his share of rental income. Id. ¶ 35. Mr. Jean-Gilles also asserts that he had fiduciary relationships both with Ms. Jean-Gilles, as his sister and co-owner, and with Chase, as successor to the original mortgage lender. Id. ¶ ¶ 72, 81, 82.
Ms. Jean-Gilles is said to conduct " her law firm business at 1900 W University Dr #222, Tempe, AZ 85281 and also lives in the State of Arizona." Id. ¶ 11. In relation to the location of the wrongful actions, Mr. Jean-Gilles alleges that while it is possible " some of the steps taken by [Ms. Jean-Gilles] to implement the unlawful refinancing scheme alleged herein could have been committed by her while she was in New York, [Mr. Jean-Gilles'] best guess is that [Ms. Jean-Gilles] was physically in Arizona when she committed the alleged fraudulent acts." Id. ¶ 2. As to Chase, it allegedly maintains its principal place of business in New York, id . ¶ 1, but the location of its actions is unclear from the Complaint.
Against the remaining defendants, Thompson and Nationwide, Mr. Jean-Gilles has alleged various acts in furtherance of a civil conspiracy. Specifically, Mr. Jean-Gilles asserts that Thompson " provided substantial aid by agreeing to change the names on the stock certificate to [Ms. Jean-Gilles] alone without proper authority to do so, which then allowed [Ms. Jean-Gilles] to proceed with her unlawful scheme . . . ." Id. ¶ 96. The complaint further alleges that " Nationwide's ratification of clear title [in favor of Ms. Jean-Gilles] as evidenced by the New York Department of Finance's Records is and was an essential part of the conspiracy." Id. ¶ 97.
Mr. Jean Gilles claims that Thompson " is a New York corporation that does not do business in Missouri." Id. ¶ 9. There are no allegations directly related to Nationwide's citizenship, but Mr. Jean-Gilles alleges that it " was previously served by a process server at 2100 Alt 19 North, Palm Harbor, FL 34683." Id. ¶ 13.
The Complaint contains three counts based on these factual allegations: (1) unjust enrichment against Ms. Jean-Gilles; (2) breach of fiduciary duty against Ms. Jean-Gilles and Chase; and (3) civil conspiracy against Ms. Jean-Gilles, Chase, Nationwide, and Thompson. Each Defendant has filed a separate motion to dismiss. These motions can be grouped into two categories: (1) Ms. Jean-Gilles and Thompson both move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction; and (2) Chase and Nationwide move to dismiss based on Mr. Jean-Gilles' failure to state a facially plausible claim. The Court will deal first with the personal jurisdiction challenges and then with the challenges to the Complaint's sufficiency. See Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v. United States ex rel. Stevens, 529 U.S. 765, 778, 120 S.Ct. 1858, 146 L.Ed.2d 836 (2000).
PERSONAL JURISDICTION DEFENDANTS
In the context of a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) (2), " the plaintiff bears the burden to show that jurisdiction exists." Fastpath, Inc. v. Arbela Techs. Corp., 760 F.3d 816, 820 (8th Cir. 2014). " To successfully survive a motion to dismiss challenging personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction over the challenging defendant." Id. To make a prima facie showing, plaintiff must plead " sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that the defendant can be subjected to jurisdiction within the state." K-V Pharm. Co. v. J. Uriach & CIA, S.A., 648 F.3d 588, 591-92 (8th Cir. 2011) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). " Although the evidentiary showing required at the prima facie stage is minimal, . . . the showing must be tested, not by the pleadings alone, but by the affidavits and exhibits supporting or opposing the motion . . . ." Id. at 592 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).
A federal court has personal jurisdiction over a properly served defendant if a state court in the forum state would have jurisdiction over that defendant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k). Personal jurisdiction can be either general, meaning a court in the forum state may hear any matter in which the party is involved, or specific, meaning the court's power over the party is limited to the specific matter before it.
The focus here is specific jurisdiction. Courts perform a two-part inquiry to decide whether they may exercise specific jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. First, they must determine whether the defendant committed one of the acts enumerated in the forum state's long-arm statute. Angelica Corp. v. Gallery Mfg. Corp., 904 F.Supp. 993, 996 (E.D. Mo. 1995). If so, they must determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with the requirements of due process. Id.
Missouri's long-arm statute permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant when a cause of action arises from the defendant's performance of at least one of the acts enumerated in the statute. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 506.500.3. If the defendant has performed an enumerated act, Missouri courts may exercise jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by due process principles. Bryant v. Smith Interior Design Group, Inc., 310 S.W.3d 227, 232 (Mo. 2010) ( en banc ) (internal quotation marks omitted). The type of action relevant here is found in subsection 506.500.1(3): " The commission of a tortious act within this state." Id. The reach of this subsection has been construed ...