United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
M. HILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants Lynda Maddox and
Donald Maddox's ("Defendants") Motion to
Dismiss the First Amended Complaint. Upon consideration of
the Motion and the memoranda filed in support thereof and in
opposition thereto, the Court concludes that the First
Amended Complaint fails to establish either personal
jurisdiction over the Defendants or venue in this District.
Darshan Mehta ("Plaintiff") has filed this action
against his wife, Lynda Maddox, and Lynda Maddox's
brother, Donald Maddox. Plaintiff is a resident of Virginia;
Lynda Maddox is a resident of the District of Columbia; and
Donald Maddox is a resident of Minnesota. Plaintiff alleges
that he became a resident of Virginia on or around October 9,
2016, upon separating from Lynda Maddox and moving out of the
couple's home in the District of Columbia. In his
eight-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that,
after he and Lynda Maddox separated, Defendants violated
multiple federal and Virginia laws when they accessed
Plaintiff's cell phone, email, bank, and other personal
accounts. Defendants have moved to dismiss the First Amended
Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2), (3), and (6).
first and primary argument for dismissal of the complaint is
that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them. To
establish personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must satisfy a
two-part inguiry. Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. v.
Casinoalitalia.com, 128 F.Supp.2d 340, 347 (E.D. Va.
2001). First, a court must determine whether the particular
facts and circumstances of the case fall within the reach of
Virginia's long-arm statute, Va. Code § 8.01-328.1.
Verizon Online Servs., Inc. v. Ralsky, 203 F.Supp.2d
601, 610 (E.D. Va. 2002). Second, a court must decide whether
the long-arm statute's reach in the case comports with
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the
United States Constitution. See, e.g., id.
at 609; Cent. Va. Aviation, Inc. v. N. Am. Flight Servs.,
Inc., 23 F.Supp.3d 625, 628 (E.D. Va. 2014).
Virginia Supreme Court has interpreted Virginia's
long-arm statute to confer jurisdiction over nonresidents who
engage in some purposeful activity in Virginia to the extent
permissible under the Due Process Clause. See Cent. Va.
Aviation, 23 F.Supp.3d at 628 (citation omitted). Thus,
the statutory and constitutional inquiries merge, and the
reviewing court is not required to go through both steps of
the two-part inquiry to determining the existence of personal
jurisdiction. Id. (citing In re Celotex
Corp., 124 F.3d 619, 627-28 (4th Cir. 1997)).
threshold stage, the plaintiff "need only make a prima
facie showing of sufficient jurisdictional basis[.]"
Am. Online, Inc. v. Huang, 106 F.Supp.2d 848, 854
(E.D. Va. 2000} (citing Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d
673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989)). However, the plaintiff bears the
burden of proving the existence of a ground for jurisdiction
by a preponderance of the evidence. Ralsky, 203
F.Supp.2d at 609.
alleges that this Court has personal jurisdiction over
Defendants under subsection (A)(3) of the long-arm statute
because the accounts that Defendants accessed were legally
located within Virginia. A court may exercise personal
jurisdiction under subsection (A)(3) "over a person, who
acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action arising
from the person's . . . [c]ausing tortious injury by an
act or omission in [Virginia]." Va. Code Ann. §
8.01-328.1(A)(3). Plaintiff alleges that when he resettled in
Virginia after his separation from Lynda Maddox, his accounts
migrated with him, as evidenced by changes of address
associated with his accounts. Plaintiff contends that
Defendants knew or should have known that Plaintiff's
accounts were legally located in Virginia.
is inappropriate as to both Defendants in this case under
subsection (A)(3) of the long arm statute, because Plaintiff
has not alleged that any tortious conduct occurred as a
result of any act or omission in Virginia. See Cent. Va.
Aviation, 23 F.Supp.3d at 629 ("Plaintiff must
establish the tortious conduct occurred while Defendant was
in Virginia."). The complaint does not allege that the
Defendants illegally accessed Plaintiff's accounts while
they were present in Virginia. That Plaintiff's accounts
migrated to Virginia with Plaintiff upon his move is not
relevant to the analysis under subsection (A)(3), given that
Plaintiff cannot establish that Defendants caused tortious
injury while present in Virginia. As a result, this Court
does not have personal jurisdiction over the Defendants under
Va. Code § 8.01-328.1(A)(3).
also alleges that the Court has personal jurisdiction over
Defendants under subsection (A)(4) of the long-arm statute
because Defendants' activities in Virginia were
continuous and systematic. A court may exercise personal
jurisdiction under subsection (A)(4) "over a person, who
acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action arising
from the person's . . . [c]ausing tortious injury [in
Virginia] by an act or omission outside [Virginia] if he
regularly does or solicits business, or engages in any other
persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue
from goods used or consumed or services rendered, in
[Virginia]." Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-328.1(A)(4).
alleges various facts to support personal jurisdiction under
subsection (A)(4). He states that Lynda Maddox routinely
parked her car in Virginia when she traveled out of town,
that she had her car serviced in Virginia, that she shopped
and dined in Virginia several times per week over a period of
twenty-eight years, that she maintained a membership at
Costco and made routine visits to different Costco locations
in Virginia, and that she regularly solicits and transacts
business in Virginia by working on consulting projects in
Virginia. Plaintiff also alleges that Lynda Maddox conducts
professional affairs in Virginia and derives a portion of her
income from Virginia-based sources.
Donald Maddox, Plaintiff alleges that he dined and shopped in
Virginia when he visited Plaintiff and Lynda Maddox.
Plaintiff also alleges that Donald Maddox spent time at
Plaintiff's parents' home in Virginia and traveled
through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, located in
is inappropriate as to Donald Maddox in this case under
subsection (A)(4) of the long arm statute, because Plaintiff
has not alleged that Donald Maddox regularly does or solicits
business, engages in any other persistent course of conduct,
or derives revenue in Virginia. Occasionally flying in and
out of Reagan National or shopping and dining in Virginia is
insufficient to establish any of the requirements of
subsection (A)(4). Moreover, as explained below, Plaintiff
has not alleged that his cause of action arises from Donald
Maddox's conduct in Virginia. As a result, this Court
does not have personal jurisdiction over Donald Maddox under
Va. Code § 8.01-328.1(A)(4).
jurisdiction over Lynda Maddox is also not properly exercised
pursuant to subsection (A)(4) of the long-arm statute. For
this provision of the long-arm statute to confer
jurisdiction, Plaintiff must show that: (1) Lynda Maddox
caused tortious injury in Virginia by an act or omission
outside of Virginia; (2) Lynda Maddox regularly does or
solicits business, or engages in any other persistent course
of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or
consumed or services rendered in Virginia; and (3)
Plaintiff's cause of action arises from such conduct. See
Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-328.1(A)(4); People Exp.
Airlines, Inc. v. 200 Kelsey Assoc., LLC, 922 F.Supp. 22
536, 545 (E.D. Va. 2013). Plaintiff has failed to make such a
Plaintiff has alleged that Lynda Maddox engages in a
persistent course of conduct in Virginia and derives revenue
from services rendered in Virginia, Plaintiff has not alleged
that his causes of action arise from this conduct. In other
words, Plaintiff's claims that Lynda Maddox illegally
accessed his accounts are unrelated to Lynda Maddox's
dealings in Virginia, whether they be personal or