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Belmora LLC v. Midway Importing, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

July 26, 2018

BELMORA LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MIDWAY IMPORTING, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Hon. Liam O'Grady, Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction (Dkt. 6). The Court considered the pleadings and the record in the case, and determined that oral argument would not assist its resolution of the matter.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Belmora LLC ("Belmora") is a pharmaceutical company incorporated in Virginia, selling over-the-counter health care products. Dkt. 12 at 4. Defendant Midway Importing, Inc. ("Midway") is a Texas company which purchased products from Belmora. Dkt. 6 at 1. On April 6, 2018, Belmora commenced a civil action in Virginia Circuit Court against Midway, asserting breach of contract and unjust enrichment due to Midway's failure to pay for certain purchases between January 18, 2018 and February 12, 2018. See Dkt. 1 at 2-10. Belmora seeks $580, 932.26 in damages. Id. at 12.

         On May 18, 2018, Midway removed the case to this Court and subsequently filed this Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), asserting lack of personal jurisdiction.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 12(b)(2), a plaintiff bears the burden to demonstrate personal jurisdiction at every stage when there is a proper jurisdictional challenge. Grayson v. Anderson, 816 F.3d 262, 267 (4th Cir. 2016). The plaintiff's burden of proof varies based on the posture of the case and the evidence presented to the court at that point. See Id. at 268. When the court is "reviewing only the parties' motion papers, affidavits attached to the motion, supporting legal memoranda, and the allegations in the complaint," a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction is sufficient to survive the jurisdictional challenge. See Id. The allegations and available evidence relating to personal jurisdiction must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id.[1]

         III. ANALYSIS

         A federal court has personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant if the forum state's long-arm statute authorizes the exercise of personal jurisdiction and the assertion of that jurisdiction is constitutional under the Due Process Clause. Perdue Foods LLC v. BRFS.A., 814 F.3d 185, 188 (4th Cir. 2016). In Virginia, the statutory inquiry merges with the constitutional inquiry because Virginia's long-arm statute is intended to extend personal jurisdiction to the extent permissible under the Constitution. Consulting Eng'rs Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 277 (4th Cir. 2009).

         Thus, to be subject to personal jurisdiction in Virginia, the defendant must have sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Id. (citing Int 7 Shoe Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). The plaintiff must demonstrate the defendant's purposeful availment of the forum such that the defendant should have reasonably anticipated being haled into court in the forum state. Perdue Foods LLC, 814 F.3d at 189. Physical presence in the forum is not required, but the contacts must be substantial and not "random, fortuitous, or attenuated." See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, Al\ U.S. 462, 475-76 (1985) (internal citations omitted); English & Smith v. Metzger, 901 F.2d 36, 39 (4th Cir. 1990); Affinity Memory & Micro, Inc. v. K & Q Enters., Inc., 20 F.Supp.2d 948, 952 (E.D. Va. 1998).

         When synthesizing these requirements for specific personal jurisdiction, courts consider (1) the extent to which the defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the state; (2) whether the plaintiffs claims arise out of those activities directed at the state; and (3) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction would be constitutionally reasonable. See Consulting Eng'rs Corp., 561 F.3d at 278.

         a. Purposeful Availment

         The first prong requires non-mechanical consideration of various factors regarding the quality and nature of the defendant's contacts with the forum. See Perdue Foods LLC, 814 F.3d at 189. Courts consider whether the defendant maintains offices or agents in the forum state, owns property in the forum state, reached into the forum state to solicit or initiate business, deliberately engaged in significant or long-term business activities in the forum state, or made in-person contact with the resident of the forum in the forum state regarding the business relationship. Id.

         Courts also consider whether the parties contractually agreed that the law of the forum state would govern disputes, whether the performance of contractual duties was to occur within the forum, and the nature, quality and extent of the parties' communications about the business being transacted. Id.; see also Am. Online, Inc. v. Huang,106 F.Supp.2d 848, 856 (E.D. Va. 2000); Affinity Memory, 20 F.Supp.2d at 952 (listing the relevant factors as the place of contracting and negotiations, the initiator of the contract, the extent of the communications, and the place of contractual performance). No. single ...


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