Baker v. Kinsey
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING 15 MOTION to Dismiss as set out herein and this case is hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 7/21/2016. (JLC)
2016 Jul-21 AM 11:41
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
) Case No.: 4:16-CV-445-VEH
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This is a personal injury action brought in federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. The automobile collision at the heart of this case occurred when Plaintiff
Bruce Baker, an Alabama citizen, was allegedly rear-ended by Defendant Zachary
Kinsey, a Georgia citizen, in Floyd County, Georgia. Kinsey has moved to dismiss
the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, or, in the alternative, lack of subjectmatter jurisdiction. Baker has not responded, and the motion will be GRANTED.1
The facts of this case are extremely simple: On October 14, 2014, in Floyd
County, Georgia, Kinsey allowed his Chevrolet Silverado to collide with the rear end
of Baker’s vehicle. Baker claims this was done negligently, or perhaps even
The court issued an order on June 1, 2016 directing Baker to show cause why this action
should not be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, or why venue should be changed to the
Northern District of Georgia. Baker did not respond, and Kinsey responded with this motion to
wantonly, so he sued Kinsey. The suit was filed in the Middle Division of the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
Although Kinsey raises the lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and personal
jurisdiction as defenses, the issue of personal jurisdiction is more straightforward, so
the court will address only that. See Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574,
585 (a federal court may “choose among threshold grounds for denying audience to
a case on the merits”). Simply put, Kinsey argues that he has nothing to do with the
State of Alabama—in this case or ever—so he is not amenable to suit in Alabama.
That’s about right.
As a starting point, a district court may dismiss a complaint without prejudice
for failing to respond to a motion to dismiss. Arundar v. Dekalb Cty. Sch. Dist., 620
F.2d 493, 495 (5th Cir. 1980). But, in the interest of completeness, the court will
explain why it lacks personal jurisdiction over Kinsey. “A federal court sitting in
diversity undertakes a two-step inquiry in determining whether personal jurisdiction
exists: the exercise of jurisdiction must (1) be appropriate under the state long-arm
statute and (2) not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to
the United States Constitution.” Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc. v. Food Movers Int'l,
Inc., 593 F.3d 1249, 1257-58 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting United Techs. Corp. v. Mazer,
556 F.3d 1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009)). ALA. R. CIV. P. 4.2 is the closest this state has
to a long arm statute, and it is “coextensive with the due process guaranteed under the
United States Constitution.” Elliott v. Van Kleef, 830 So.2d 726, 730 (Ala. 2003).
Consistent with the due process clause, a court can exercise general or specific
personal jurisdiction over a party. Stubbs v. Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal
Palace Casino, 477 F.3d 1357, 1360 n.3 (11th Cir. 2006). “For an individual, the
paradigm forum for the exercise of jurisdiction is the individual’s domicile.”
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011). Since
everyone agrees Kinsey is not an Alabama domiciliary (there would be no diversity
jurisdiction otherwise), general jurisdiction is out. Specific jurisdiction is explained
less succinctly, but it may be exercised when the defendant “has certain minimum
contacts with the forum such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend
traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Helicopteros Nacionales de
Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 (1984). Kinsey alleges he has no contacts
with Alabama, and Baker has not alleged any. The case is DISMISSED WITHOUT
DONE and ORDERED this 21st day of July, 2016.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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