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New Hampshire Insurance Co. v. Pennington

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

January 18, 2018

ALYCE PENNINGTON, alleged dependent of Richard Trapp, deceased, Defendant.



         This action is before the Court on Defendant Alyce Pennington's Rule 12(b) Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 7.) Plaintiff opposes the Motion, and this issue is fully briefed.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff New Hampshire Insurance Company (“New Hampshire”) filed this action for declaratory judgment in the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. Defendant Pennington removed the cause to this court pursuant to the Court's diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff New Hampshire is an insurance company with its principal place of business in New York, New York. Defendant Pennington is a citizen and resident of the State of Arizona, and is the surviving widow and dependent of Richard Trapp, deceased.

         New Hampshire seeks to obtain a judicial declaration regarding its rights and obligations as to Defendant Pennington under a workers' compensation insurance policy (“Policy”) issued by New Hampshire on May 18, 2014, to Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation (“Noranda”). The Policy had an effective date of May 18, 2014 to May 18, 2015. Noranda, a non-party at this time, owned and operated an aluminum smelter in Marston, Missouri during all times relevant to this action.

         On January 8, 2016, Mr. Trapp filed a claim with the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Division of Workers' Compensation (Doc. 14-1, hereinafter referred to as the Division), in which he alleged exposure to asbestos during his employment at Noranda, which caused him to develop mesothelioma. (Doc. 14-1 at 5.) He indicated that the “date of accident or occupational disease” was May 12, 2015. Id. Mr. Trapp alleged that his last potential exposure to asbestos at Noranda's aluminum smelter in Marston occurred sometime in 1973. On January 14, 2016, Mr. Trapp passed away. Thereafter, Defendant Alyce Pennington became the claimant in the workers' compensation action.

         Defendant Pennington has asserted that the Policy provides workers' compensation insurance coverage for her claim arising from the illness and death of Mr. Trapp. New Hampshire argues that the Policy does not provide coverage because Trapp's last alleged exposure to asbestos on the insured premises operated by Noranda did not occur within the policy period, as required by the Policy. New Hampshire seeks a judicial declaration by this Court that it has no legal obligation to provide workers' compensation benefits to Alyce Pennington arising from the alleged injury, illness, or death of Richard Trapp.

         Defendant moved to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, and failure to join a party pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), 12(b)(7), and 19. Plaintiff opposes Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and has filed a Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Complaint for the purpose of adding Noranda as a party defendant.


         I. Personal Jurisdiction

         Defendant Pennington first argues that this Court has neither general nor specific jurisdiction over her.

         “When personal jurisdiction is challenged by a defendant, 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 survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing that personal jurisdiction exists ....” K-V Pharm. Co. v. J. Uriach & CIA, S.A., 648 F.3d 588, 591-92 (8th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). “A plaintiff's prima facie showing must be tested, not by the pleadings alone, but by affidavits and exhibits supporting or opposing the motion.” Fastpath, 760 F.3d at 820 (citations omitted). The court must view the evidence “in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and resolve factual conflicts in the plaintiff's favor; however, the party seeking to establish the court's personal jurisdiction carries the burden of proof and that burden does not shift to the party challenging jurisdiction.” Id.

         In order to subject a defendant to a court's personal jurisdiction, due process requires that the defendant have certain minimum contacts with the state, such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). There are two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific. Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014).

         General jurisdiction is applicable where the plaintiff's cause of action does not arise out of and is not related to the defendant's contacts with the forum. Helicopteros Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n. 9 (1984). A court may exercise general jurisdiction only where the nonresident defendant's contacts with the forum state are “continuous and systematic.” Id. This standard requires the plaintiff to show more than the minimum contacts required by due process to assert specific jurisdiction. Bell v. Imperial Palace Hotel/Casino, Inc., 200 F.Supp.2d 1082, 1090 (E.D. Mo. 2001). “For an individual, the paradigm forum for the exercise of general jurisdiction is the individual's domicile.” Goodyear ...

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