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Marine Concepts, LLC v. Marco Canvas & Upholstry, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

April 27, 2015

MARINE CONCEPTS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MARCO CANVAS & UPHOLSTRY, LLC, and EDWARD J. SKRZYNSKI, Defendants.

ORDER

NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, Doc. 24. For the reasons set out below, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

I. Background

This action arises out of a patent dispute between Plaintiff Marine Concepts, LLC ("Marine Concepts") and Defendants Marco Canvas & Upholstry ("Marco Canvas") and Edward J. Skrzynski ("Skrzynski"). Marine Concepts a Missouri limited liability company with a principal place of business in Osage Beach, Missouri. Marco Canvas is a Florida limited liability company with a principal place of business in Marco Island, Florida. Skrzynski is a managing member of Marco Canvas and a citizen of Florida.

In October 2009, Marine Concepts and Marco Canvas executed a Nondisclosure and Confidentiality Agreement ("NDA") for the exchange of confidential information relating to methods of making canvas boat covers. Thereafter, the parties met to discuss plans for a new boat cover. In November 2009, Skrzynski filed a provisional patent application allegedly for the invention developed in conjunction with Marine Concepts. Marine Concepts contends that this act breached the NDA and misappropriated Marine Concepts' trade secrets.

On January 28, 2015, the Court entered an order granting Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction due to Marine Concepts' failure to demonstrate that Defendants had "purposefully directed" their activities into Missouri to be subject to the Court's jurisdiction here. [Doc. 22, p. 9]. Marine Concepts now requests that the Court reconsider its prior order in light of evidence that Defendants knew Plaintiff was a Missouri company.

II. Discussion

Motions to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), "serve the limited function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact [or presenting] newly discovered evidence." U.S. v. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer Dist., 440 F.3d 930, 933 (8th Cir. 2006) (internal quotations and citations omitted). A district court has broad discretion in determining whether to grant or deny a motion to alter or amend. Id.

Rule 60(b) allows the Court to relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or proceeding entered as a result of (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial, (3) fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party, (4) the judgment is void, (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged/it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.

Neither Rule 59 nor 60 justify the Court revisiting its decision in this case. Marine Concepts has failed to demonstrate through both its initial suggestions in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss and its motion for reconsideration that Defendants purposefully directed their activities into Missouri to be subject to personal jurisdiction here. Johnson v. Woodstock, 444 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir. 2006) (noting that the burden to establish jurisdiction lies on the party asserting jurisdiction). Therefore, the Court need not revisit its dismissal.

Marine Concepts attempts to prove that because Defendants knew Marine Concepts was a Missouri company, Defendants are subject to specific jurisdiction in Missouri.[1] However, simply presenting evidence that Defendants knew that Marine Concepts was located in Missouri is not enough to establish specific personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Regardless of a party's knowledge of their opponent's residence, due process requires that a defendant purposefully direct its activities at the forum state in a suit that "arises out of" or "relates to" these activities in order to be subject to personal jurisdiction in the forum. Johnson v. Arden, 614 F.3d 785, 794 (8th Cir. 2010). Courts evaluate five factors in order to determine whether a party may be subjected to the court's personal jurisdiction: "(1) the nature and quality of the contacts with the forum state; (2) the quantity of the contacts; (3) the relationship of the cause of action to the contacts; (4) the interest of Missouri in providing a forum for its residents; and (5) the convenience or inconvenience to the parties." Id. None of the new evidence Marine Concepts has presented implicates the Court's conclusion that Defendants did not purposefully direct their actions at Missouri such that these five factors justify the Court exercising personal jurisdiction over them.

In its initial suggestions in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss, Marine Concepts argued that Defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction in Missouri because they executed two contracts with Missouri companies in the past, make ongoing royalty payments to a Missouri company, made phone calls and sent emails to Marine Concepts in Missouri, "targeted" Marine Concepts in Missouri, and lured Marine Concepts' owner to Florida to steal intellectual property. As the Court noted in its previous order,

"[C]ontact by phone or mail is insufficient to justify exercise of personal jurisdiction under the due process clause." Johnson v. Woodcock, 444 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). Though Defendants send ongoing royalty payments to Missouri and have distribution licenses from two Missouri companies, those contacts are completely unrelated to this litigation and provide no basis for the Court to exercise specific jurisdiction over this action.

[Doc. 22, p. 8]. The Court's conclusions are well supported by Eighth Circuit precedent. See Fastpath, Inc. v. Arbela Technologies Corp., 760 F.3d 816, 823-24 (8th Cir. 2014) (holding that emails and phone calls did not create a "substantial connection" to the forum where they were merely "incidental" and did not demonstrate purposeful availment of the forum); Primus Corp. v. Centreformat Ltd., 221 Fed.App'x. 492, 494 (8th Cir. 2007) (finding no personal jurisdiction where the defendant's contacts with the state consisted primarily of telephone and written communications); Porter v. Berall, 293 F.3d 1073 (8th Cir. 2002) ("Contact by phone or mail is insufficient to justify exercise of personal jurisdiction under the due process clause"); see also Ahmed v. Bangash, 2014 WL 805869, at *5 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 28, 2014) ("even if direct, one-on-one emails between the parties existed, a review of the relevant Eighth Circuit case law reveals that, in general, if a defendant's connection to the forum state is established merely ...


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