United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
STEPHEN C. GRATZ, Plaintiff,
DIANE GRATZ, Defendant.
E. PAYNE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Defendant's MOTION
UNDER RULE 12(B)(2) TO DISMISS COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF PERSONAL
JURISDICTION (the "MOTION") (ECF No. 12) . For the
following reasons, the MOTION will be denied.
Gratz ("Steve") filed this action against his
stepmother Diane Gratz ("Diane") for tortious
interference with contract, business conspiracy, and common
law conspiracy. See generally Am. Compl. (ECF No.
9) . Steve alleges that Diane interfered with contracts that
Steve had with his father, George Gratz ("George"),
pertaining to various real estate holdings of Steve and
George in Virginia. Id. ¶¶ 41-54. The nub
of Steve's case is that Diane intentionally drove a wedge
between Steve and George, causing George to violate or
terminate various contracts and thereby causing losses to
Steve. See id.
asserts that the Court has personal jurisdiction over Diane
pursuant to Virginia's long-arm statute, Va. Code
§§ 8.01-328.1(A)(1), (A)(3), and (A)(4), and the
Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Am.
Compl. ¶ 4. He alleges that Diane, who lives in and is a
citizen of Florida, id. ¶ 2, owns real property
in Richmond; keeps personal property in Richmond; and has
''continuous and systematic contacts with the
Commonwealth such that it is her second home."
Id. Further, he alleges that Diane, directly or
through an agent, transacted business in Richmond relating to
the properties at issue, committed intentional torts and
other wrongs in the Commonwealth, caused tortious injury to
Steve by acts outside the Commonwealth, regularly does
business and derives substantial revenues from actions within
the Commonwealth, and has minimum contacts with Virginia.
moves to dismiss the AMENDED COMPLAINT for lack of personal
jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). ECF No. 12.
The parties have fully briefed the MOTION and it is ripe for
STANDARD GOVERNING FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(2)
as here, the Court considers a Motion to Dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction
"on the basis of motion papers, supporting legal
memoranda, and the allegations in the complaint, the
plaintiff bears the burden [of] making a prima facie showing
of a sufficient jurisdictional basis to survive the
jurisdictional challenge." Consulting Eng'rs
Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 276 (4th Cir.
2009) (citation omitted). Like Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), at this
"preliminary stage, even when the motion is accompanied
by affidavits, we give the plaintiffs' allegations a
favorable presumption, taking the allegations in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff." Sneha Media &
Entm't, LLC v. Associated Broad. Co. P LTD, 911 F.3d
192, 196 (4th Cir. 2018).
the foregoing authority, at this stage of the case, Steve
must make a prima facie showing that the Court has personal
jurisdiction over Diane. As set forth below, construing
Steve's allegations in the light most favorably to him,
the Court concludes that Steve has made such a showing as to
specific personal jurisdiction, but not as to general
Framework for Personal Jurisdiction Analysis
courts exercise personal jurisdiction to the extent allowed
under state law for the state in which they sit. See New
Wellington Fin. Corp. v. Flagship Resort Dev. Corp, 416
F.3d 290, 294 (4th Cir. 2005); Gillison v. Lead Express,
Inc., No.3:16cv41, 2018 WL 6537151, *5 (E.D. Va. Dec.
12, 2018). Personal jurisdiction must comport with both state
law and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of
the United States Constitution. New Wellington, 416
F.3d at 294. Thus, the Court must first look to
Virginia's long-arm statute, under which Steve asserts
personal jurisdiction, see Am. Compl. ¶ 4, and
then to the federal constitutional requirements.
relevant part, Virginia's long-arm statute provides that:
court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, who
acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of ...