United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
INSITE PLATFORM PARTNERS, INC., d/b/a NORTH AMERICAN SATELLITE CORP., Plaintiff,
PACIFIC LPG CORPORATION, d/b/a PACIFIC PROPANE, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss For Lack of
Personal Jurisdiction filed by Defendant Pacific LPG
Corporation, d/b/a Pacific Propane. (Doc. No. 9) Defendant
argues it is not subject to personal jurisdiction in Missouri
under Missouri's long-arm statute, Mo. Rev. Stat. §
506.500.1, and lacks sufficient contacts with Missouri to
permit this Court to exercise jurisdiction over it. In
support of its motion, Defendant submits a declaration by its
principal, Paula Heath, who states that Defendant does not
own, operate, possess, or lease any real property in
Missouri, does not sell, ship, or distribute any products in
Missouri, does not maintain any records in Missouri, and has
no address, telephone numbers, or bank accounts in Missouri.
(Declaration of Paula Heath (“Heath Decl.”), Doc.
No. 9-1, at ¶¶ 5-7) None of Defendant's
officers reside in or have offices in Missouri. (Id.
at ¶ 6) According to Heath, Defendant did not initiate
business within the state of Missouri, and no face-to-face
meetings related to the alleged transactions took place in
Missouri. (Id. at ¶ 12) In response, Plaintiff
InSite Platform Partners, Inc., d/b/a North American
Satellite Corp. (NASCorp), argues that because Defendant has
transacted business within Missouri and committed tortious
acts within Missouri, its motion should be denied. (Doc. No.
15 at 5-9) Plaintiff's Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer, R.L. (“Rick”) Humphrey, has filed a
declaration in support of these arguments. (Declaration of
R.L. (“Rick”) Humphrey (“Humphrey
Decl.”), Doc. No. 15-1) The motion is fully briefed and
ready for disposition.
a Missouri corporation with its principal place of business
in Missouri, provides real-time monitoring of propane and
other gas tank storage levels via satellite through its
patented SkyTrackerTM system. (Petition for
Damages (“Pet.”), Doc. No. 6 at ¶ 6)
Defendant, a California corporation with its principal place
of business in California, provides propane delivery, tank
rental, and installation services to commercial and
individual consumers. (Id. at ¶ 2)
April 24, 2007, Defendant executed a Merchandise/Service Work
Order and its attendant Business Rules (“Subscription
Agreement.”). (Pet. at ¶ 9) Under this
Subscription Agreement, and subsequent agreements between the
parties entered into between 2007 and 2012, Plaintiff
provided Defendant with the hardware, software, and
monitoring services necessary for Defendant to implement and
use a number of Plaintiff's proprietary SkyTracker™
systems. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-13)
about August 1, 2013, Defendant cancelled all monthly
monitoring services. Plaintiff acknowledged the cancellation
and requested Defendant return all SkyTracker™
equipment. (Id. at ¶ 14) When Defendant failed
to return the equipment, Plaintiff decommissioned and turned
off all of the SkyTracker™ systems installed on
Defendant's tanks. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16)
Plaintiff alleges that over the next 15 months, Defendant
reactivated 2, 185 SkyTracker™ systems on a competing
system and continued to use them. (Id. at
¶¶ 16-20) Plaintiff has been charged for the
monthly base fees and transmission fees on these units for a
total direct loss of $229, 425.00 as of March 31, 2015.
(Id. at ¶ 20)
March 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court of
St. Charles County, Missouri seeking damages under Missouri
state law for breach of contract (Count I); fraud (Count II);
unjust enrichment (Count III); quantum meruit (Count IV); and
conversion (Count V). Defendant removed the action to this
Court on April 26, 2016, on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441,
and 1446 (Doc. No. 1) and then moved to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction (Doc. No. 9).
survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing
that personal jurisdiction exists, which is accomplished by
pleading 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) (quoting Dever v. Hentzen Coatings, Inc.,
380 F.3d 1070, 1072 (8th Cir. 2004)). “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. (internal citations
and quotation marks omitted). The evidence must be viewed in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all factual
conflicts are resolved in its favor in deciding whether the
plaintiff made the requisite showing. Id. (citing
Digi-Tel Holdings, Inc. v. Proteq Telecomms. (PTE),
Ltd., 89 F.3d 519, 522 (8th Cir. 1996)).
federal court may assume jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant only to the extent permitted by the forum
state's long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause of
the Constitution. Dakota Industries, Inc. v. Ever Best
Ltd., 28 F.3d 910, 915 (8th Cir. 1994) (citing
Morris v. Barkbuster, Inc., 923 F.2d 1277, 1280 (8th
Cir. 1991)). Missouri's long-arm statute authorizes
personal jurisdiction over defendants who, inter
alia, transact business, make a contract, or commit a
tortious act within the state. See Mo. Rev. Stat.
§ 506.500.1(1) - (3). “These individual categories
are construed broadly, such that if a defendant commits one
of the acts specified in the long-arm statute, the statute
will be interpreted to provide for jurisdiction, within the
specific categories enumerated in the statute, to the full
extent permitted by the Due Process Clause.”
Viasystems, Inc. v. EBM-Papst St. Georgen GmbH & Co.,
KG, 646 F.3d 589, 593 n. 2 (8th Cir. 2011). The Court
will, therefore, focus on whether exercising personal
jurisdiction over Defendant comports with federal due process
standards. Dakota Indus., 28 F.3d at 915; see
also Gray v. Hudson, No. 14CV1183 HEA, 2015 WL
4488143, at *9 (E.D. Mo. July 23, 2015); Meredith, Inc.
v. Marketing Resources Group of Oregon, Inc.,
4:04CV1727-DJS, 2005 WL 2334294, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 23,
2005). If it does, Defendant would be subject to the long-arm
statute, and if it does not, Plaintiff's claims should be
dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. Clune v.
Alimak AB, 233 F.3d 538, 541 (8th Cir. 2000);
Express Scripts, Inc. v. Care Continuum Alliance,
Inc., No. 4:10CV2235CDP, 2011 WL 2199967, at *2 (E.D.
Mo. June 7, 2011).
process requires a defendant 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.” See Myers v. Casino Queen,
Inc., 689 F.3d 904, 911 (8th Cir. 2012) (citing
Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316
(1945)). The relevant contacts with the forum state must be
more than “random, fortuitous or attenuated.”
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472
(1985) (citations omitted). “The fundamental inquiry is
whether the defendant has ‘purposefully availed'
itself of the ‘benefits and protections' of the
forum state, ” Viasystems, Inc., 646 F.3d at
594 (quoting Burger King Corp., 471 U.S. at 482),
“to such a degree that it ‘should reasonably
anticipate being haled into court there.'”
Id. (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v.
Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980)).
Eighth Circuit has established a five factor test to
determine whether a defendant's contacts with the forum
state are sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over
the defendant: “(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 the forum state in providing a
forum for its residents; and (5) the convenience or
inconvenience to the parties.”Dairy Farmers of Am.,
Inc. v. Bassett & Walker Intern., Inc., 702 F.3d
472, 477 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting K-V Pharm., 648
F.3d at 592). Personal jurisdiction may be established by
general or specific jurisdiction, and the third factor -
relation of the cause of action to the contacts -
distinguishes between the two. Bell Paper Box, Inc. v.
U.S. Kids, Inc., 22 F.3d 816, 819 (8th Cir. 1994)
(citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n. 8 (1984)).
general jurisdiction to exist, the defendant must have
“continuous and systematic” contacts with the
forum state, even if the plaintiff's claims do not arise
out of those activities. In contrast, specific jurisdiction
arises when the injury giving rise to the lawsuit occurred
within or had some connection to the forum state.
Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Maples Indus., Inc., 97
F.3d 1100, 1102 (8th Cir. 1996); see also Miller v.
Nippon Carbon Co., Ltd., 528 F.3d 1087, 1091 (8th Cir.
2008); Steinbuch v. Cutler, 518 F.3d 580, 586 (8th
Cir. 2008). Plaintiff does not contend the basis for personal
jurisdiction over Defendant is its “continuous and
systematic” contacts with the state ...