Patterson v. Blue Offshore BV et al
ORDER AND REASONS that FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. FURTHER ORDERED that Patterson and FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS are permitted to conduct dis covery related to FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS's alleged secondment agreements for up to sixty (60) days following the entry of this order, with discovery terminating no later than January 12, 2015. FURTHER ORDERED that FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS may re-urge its pending motion after January 12, 2015. Signed by Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown on 11/10/2014. (cms)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CASE NO. 13-0337
BLUE OFFSHORE BV, et al.
SECTION: “G” (3)
ORDER AND REASONS
This litigation arises from an accident that occurred at sea off the coast of Russia. Presently
pending before the Court is defendant FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS’s “Motion to Dismiss for Lack
of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2).”1 Having reviewed the motion, the memoranda
in support, the memorandum in opposition, and the applicable law, the Court will deny the pending
motion without prejudice to permit Patterson to conduct further discovery limited to personal
In his complaint, Plaintiff Danny Patterson alleges that he injured his knee and leg on August
21, 2012 while working for Blue Offshore as a Jones Act Seaman on the vessel “M/V Simon
Stevin,” then located off the coast of the Russian Federation.2 Patterson, claiming negligence, alleges
that Defendants FMC Technologies, Inc. (“FMCTI”), FMC Eurasia, LLC (“FMC Eurasia”), FMC
Kongsberg Subsea AS (“FMC Kongsberg”), Aker Solutions, Inc. (“Aker”), Aker Subsea AS (“Aker
Subsea”), and Blue Offshore “jointly and severally” caused his injuries, which rendered him unfit
Rec. Doc. 90.
Rec. Doc. 1 at 2; Rec. Doc. 20 at 1.
for duty.3 Specifically, Patterson alleges that FMCTI, FMC Eurasia, FMC Kongsberg, Aker, and
Aker Subsea served as contractors charged with providing sub-sea umbilical equipment and
technical supervision on the project where he sustained his injuries.4 According to Patterson: (1)
the FMC defendants and Aker provided “unsafe, faulty, and improper” umbilical equipment; (2)
FMCTI, FMC Eurasia, and the Aker defendants failed to perform their contracted work safely or
provide technical supervision; (3) FMCTI, FMC Eurasia, and Aker breached the terms of their
contracts, to which Patterson was a third-party beneficiary; (5) the Aker defendants failed to remedy
the unsafe umbilical equipment; and (5) Blue Offshore failed to provide Patterson with a safe place
Patterson filed the present lawsuit on February 22, 2013.6 On July 3, 2013, Blue Offshore
filed a “Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to 12(b)(2).”7 Patterson filed
an opposition on July 23, 2013.8 On August 2, 2013, with leave of Court, Blue Offshore filed a reply
in further support of its motion.9 That same day, Patterson, with leave of Court, filed a supplemental
Rec. Doc. 1 at 2–3, 5; Rec. Doc. 73 at 1–2.
Rec. Doc. 1 at 3; Rec. Doc. 73 at 1–2.
Id. at 3–4.
Rec. Doc. 1. Aker filed an answer on May 20, 2013, and Blue Offshore filed an answer on June 26, 2013.
Rec. Doc. 6; Rec. Doc. 17. Patterson filed his “First Supplemental and Amended Complaint” on July 11, 2013; Blue
Offshore and FMCTI both filed answers on July 23, 2013. Rec. Doc. 20; Rec. Doc. 23; Rec. Doc. 24. Aker filed an
answer on July 25, 2013. Rec. Doc. 28.
Rec. Doc. 19.
Rec. Doc. 27.
Rec. Doc. 34.
opposition.10 On September 20, 2013, Blue Offshore filed a “Motion to Stay Discovery Pending
Resolution of Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction,”11 and Patterson filed a “Motion
to Compel Discovery.”12 Blue Offshore filed an opposition to Patterson’s motion on October 1,
2013, and Patterson filed an opposition to Blue Offshore’s motion on the same day.13 On October
8, 2013. the Court: (1) denied without prejudice Blue Offshore’s Motion to Dismiss; (2) ordered that
limited discovery be taken from Blue Offshore; and (3) denied as moot Patterson’s Motion to
Compel and Blue Offshore’s Motion to Stay Discovery.14
Blue Offshore re-urged its “Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant
to 12(b)(2)” on February 21, 2014.15 Patterson filed an opposition to Blue Offshore’s re-urged
motion on March 11, 2014.16 On April 11, 2014, with leave of Court, Blue Offshore filed a reply in
further support of its motion.17 Patterson filed his “First Supplemental and Amending Complaint”
on May 13, 2014, adding FMC Eurasia, FMC Kongsberg, and Aker Subsea as defendants.18 FMCTI
Rec. Doc. 37.
Rec. Doc. 42.
Rec. Doc. 43.
Rec. Doc. 46; Rec. Doc. 47.
Rec. Doc. 49 at 3.
Rec. Doc. 53.
Rec. Doc. 55.
Rec. Doc. 63.
Rec. Doc. 73.
filed an answer on June 9, 2014;19 Aker filed an answer on June 12, 2014.20 FMC Kongsberg filed
a “Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2)”21 on August 26,
2014, and Aker Subsea filed a “Motion to Dismiss” on September 16, 2014.22 Patterson filed an
opposition to FMC Kongsberg’s motion to dismiss on September 9, 2014, and filed an opposition
to Aker Subsea’s motion to dismiss on September 23, 2014.23 On October 2, 2014, Patterson filed
an unopposed motion to continue the hearing on Aker Subsea’s motion in order to facilitate further
jurisdictional discovery.24 The Court granted the motion on October 3, 2014, resetting the hearing
on the motion to January 7, 2015.25
II. Parties’ Arguments
FMC Kongsberg’s “Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to Rule
In its memorandum in support of its motion to dismiss, FMC Kongsberg contends that this
Court lacks both general and specific jurisdiction over it, because FMC Kongsberg: (2) [l]acks the
continuous and systematic contacts with the United States required to support general jurisdiction,
thereby making jurisdiction over it offensive to traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice; and (2) FMC Kongsberg lacks any “minimum contacts” with the forum related to Patterson’s
Rec. Doc. 82.
Rec. Doc. 84.
Rec. Doc. 90.
Rec. Doc. 97.
Rec. Doc. 91; Rec. Doc. 99.
Rec. Doc. 100.
Rec. Doc. 101.
claims, has not “‘purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of Louisiana or the
United States, and therefre is not subject to the Court’s specific jurisdiction.26
According to FMC Kongsberg, this Court lacks general jurisdiction over it because, although
Patterson has alleged that it is a “foreign corporation within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court,” he does not make any other allegations to support this conclusion.27 FMC Kongsberg cites
to an affidavit submitted by Tomas Bille, its legal counsel, in support of the proposition that it has
no contacts with Louisiana or United States, “let alone the type of continuous and systematic
contacts that would permit this Court to exercise general jurisdiction over FMC Kongsberg.”28
Indeed, FMC Kongsberg argues, the company “does no business and performs no work in Louisiana
or the United States,” demonstrating that it has not deliberately engaged in significant activities
within the forum or the United States that would make it reasonable to require it to litigate here.29
Further, FMC Kongsberg contends, even if Patterson could show that it did some “limited regular
business” within the United States, “any conceivable contacts would be insufficient to support this
Court’s exercise of general jurisdiction” over it.30
FMC Kongsberg contends that its contacts with Louisiana, “if any, which is denied,” do not
suffice “to support the demand that the corporation be amenable to suits unrelated to that activity,”
Rec. Doc. 90–1 at p. 10.
Rec. Doc. 90–1 at p. 6.
Id. (citing Rec. Doc. 90–2).
Id. at p. 7.
and are not “so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of actions
arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities.”31
FMC Kongsberg further argues that this Court lacks specific jurisdiction over it, because
“there is no claimed relationship between the alleged acts and/or omissions of FMC Kongsberg” and
the State of Louisiana or the United States.32 FMC Kongsberg contends that “the alleged incident
giving rise to Plaintiff’s claims occurred wholly outside the United States and in the territorial
waters of a foreign country,” and that “plaintiff has not alleged, nor can he show, that any contract
under which FMC Kongsberg was providing equipment onboard the M/V SIMON STEVIN was
negotiated, delivered, entered into, executed, or performed in the Louisiana or the United States.”33
FMC Kongsburg further maintains that Patterson cannot “point to any contractual relationship
between he and FMC Kongsberg related to his cause of action.”34 Thus, FMC Kongsberg maintains,
Patterson has failed to allege the requisite “purposeful availment” required for the exercise of
jurisdiction consistent with due process.35 FMC Kongsberg contends that “the only contract to which
FMC Kongsberg was a party that is germane to the plaintiff’s claims” was its contract with Gazprom
Dobycha Shelf LLC for the equipment related to the project in Russia where Patterson was allegedly
Id. at p. 8.
Id. at pp. 8–9.
injured.36 Citing to Tomas Bille’s deposition, FMC Kongsberg contends that “plaintiff’s cause of
action (that FMC Kongsberg improperly provided equipment on the M/V SIMON STEVIN) relates
only to alleged acts or omissions that occurred in a foreign country,” depriving Patterson’s tort
claims of the factual nexus necessary to sustain specific jurisdiction in this Court.37
Patterson’s Opposition to FMC Kongsberg’s Motion
In his opposition to FMC Kongsberg’s motion, Patterson contends that additional discovery
is necessary in the present case, since FMC Kongsberg made its initial appearance on August 26,
2014 with its motion to dismiss, and specific jurisdictional discovery has not yet been conducted.38
Patterson acknowledges that Tomas Bille has been deposed, but avers that Bille, in his deposition,
referenced secondment agreements in which “[t]his very defendant sends its employees to the United
States to work,” and that such conduct must be “discovered and developed” to determine its
jurisdictional significance.39 Patterson requests sixty (60) to ninety (90) days be allotted for
jurisdictional discovery,40 and contends that the jurisdictional discovery will not interrupt the
March 23, 2015 trial date.41
FMC Kongsberg’s Reply
In its reply, FMC Kongsberg contends that despite having had nearly four months to conduct
Id. at p. 9.
Rec. Doc. 91 at p.1.
Id. at p. 2.
Id. at p. 3. Patterson also notes that he has “not had the opportunity to traverse the supporting affidavit.”
jurisdictional discovery, Patterson waited until September 11, 2014, after FMC Kongsberg filed the
present motion, to begin doing so.42 Moreover, FMC Kongsberg argues, Patterson “fully traversed”
the issue of the secondment agreements, and Bille’s testimony made clear that “FMC Kongsberg
does not employ any US citizens in the United States,” and that “there were no secondment
agreements in place for any FMC Kongsberg employees” during the project in which Patterson was
allegedly injured.43 FMC Kongsberg therefore contends that Patterson’s request for jurisdictional
discovery “is simply a delay tactic,” and that no additional discovery will change the allegedly
undisputed fact that it has not purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of Louisiana
law or the law of the United States.44
III. Law and Analysis
On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2), “the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction, but need only present
prima facie evidence.”45 District courts “must accept the plaintiff’s uncontroverted allegations, and
resolve in his favor all conflicts between the facts contained in the parties’ affidavits and other
documentation.”46 In resolving the motion, this Court may consider “affidavits, interrogatories,
depositions, oral testimony, or any combination of the recognized methods of discovery.”47
Rec. Doc. 95 at pp. 1–2.
Id. at p. 2.
Id. at 2–3.
Revell v. Lidov, 317 F.3d 467, 469 (5th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
Discovery relating to personal jurisdiction “need not be permitted unless the motion to dismiss raises
issues of fact.”48 When the Court orders discovery related to personal jurisdiction, it “has discretion
as to the type and amount of discovery to allow.”49
FMC Kongsberg contends that this court may not exercise either specific or general personal
jurisdiction over it because: (1) it does not have minimum contacts with Louisiana or the United
States, much less the continuous and systematic contacts required for the exercise of general
jurisdiction; (2) Patterson has not connected his claimed injury to any conduct undertaken by FMC
Kongsberg in Louisiana or the United States; and (3) further discovery regarding personal
jurisdiction would not change these alleged facts. Patterson argues that Bille’s deposition raised
questions regarding whether FMC Kongsberg participates in secondment agreements in which its
employees are tasked to work on projects in the United States, and that sixty to ninety days of
discovery would enable it to probe the jurisdictional significance, if any, of these alleged
In light of Patterson and FMC Kongsberg’s apparent disagreement regarding the scope and
possible jurisdictional effect of FMC Kongsberg’s alleged involvement in secondment agreements,
it is evident that FMC Kongsberg’s motion to dismiss has raised issues of fact. Since the nature of
the secondment agreements relates directly to FMC Kongsberg’s contacts, if any, with Louisiana
and the United States, these issues of fact are significant for jurisdictional purposes. Although FMC
Kongsberg points out that Patterson failed to initiate discovery until after FMC Kongsberg filed its
Wyatt v. Kaplan, 686 F.2d 276, 284 (5th Cir. 1982). See also Alpine View Co., Ltd. v. Atlast Copco AB,
205 F.3d 208 (“[T]his Court affirms denials of discovery on questions of personal jurisdiction in cases where
discovery sought ‘could not have added any significant facts.'”).
Walk Haydel & Assocs., Inc. v. Coastal Power Prod. Co., 517 F.3d 235 (5th Cir. 2008).
motion to dismiss, Patterson’s delay in initiating discovery has no bearing on the jurisdictional
significance of the alleged secondment agreements.
Considering Bille’s affidavit and testimony, the parties’ arguments, and the applicable law,
the Court will deny FMC Kongsberg’s motion without prejudice and order that limited discovery
be taken regarding FMC Kongsberg’s involvement in secondment agreements involving United
States parties or work performed in the United States. Accordingly,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS’s “Motion to Dismiss for
Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2)”50 is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Patterson and FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS are permitted
to conduct discovery related to FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS’s alleged secondment agreements for
up to sixty (60) days following the entry of this order, with discovery terminating no later than
January 12, 2015.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS may re-urge its pending
motion after January 12, 2015.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, this
day of November, 2014.
NANNETTE JOLIVETTE BROWN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Rec. Doc. 90.
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