Cormier et al v. Soroa et al
ORDER: For the foregoing reasons, Defendant L&L Insurance Agency's 29 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction is GRANTED and all claims against it are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Magistrate Judge Carol B Whitehurst on 12/5/2017. (crt,Chicola, C)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
Cormier, et al
Civil Action No. 6:16-01438
Judge Elizabeth E. Foote
Soroa, et al
Magistrate Judge Carol B. Whitehurst
Before the Court is an unopposed1 Rule 12(b)(2) Motion To Dismiss filed by
defendant, L&L Insurance Agency2 (“L&L”) [Rec. Doc. 29]. For the reasons that
follow, the Court will grant the Motion.
This personal injury lawsuit arises from an automobile accident that occurred
on January 21, 2104. Plaintiffs, Christine Cormier, individually and on behalf of
Aaron Cormier, and Byron Cates, individually and on behalf of Grace Cates,
instituted this action in the 27th Judicial District Court, Parish of St. Landry, Louisiana
against defendants Ubaldo Soroa (“Soroa”), L&L and Wilshire Insurance Company
(“Wilshire”). R. 1. On October 13, 2016, Wilshire removed the lawsuit to this Court.
Plaintiffs allege in their Petition for Damages that Soroa, on behalf of Hawk
Logistics was provided a policy of automobile liability insurance by L&L Insurance
Company (“L&L”) through his employer, Hawk Logistics and or through SOL
Pursuant to LR 7.5, any opposition by Plaintiffs was due by November 29, 2017.
Plaintiffs’ Original Petition named L&L incorrectly as “L&L Insurance Company.” R. 1-1. The
First Supplemental and Amending Petition correctly named the entity as “L&L Insurance Agency.”
Express Inc.3 R. 1, ¶¶ 7,9. In its Motion, L&L cites the affidavit of the company vice
president, Yamileth Leon.4 The record provides that “L&L is an insurance ‘broker’
which secures insurance coverage for its client(s) and customer(s).” R. 29-3, Affidavit
of Leon. Leon states that L&L is a North Carolina domestic corporation having its
principal place of business in Lincolnton, North Carolina and is only licensed to
broker/sell insurance in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, and
is not licensed in Louisiana. Id. Leon further states that L&L has no offices nor any
present and active employees in the State of Louisiana. Id. L&L does not pay any
form of taxes in Louisiana and has no business activity nor any contacts with
Louisiana. Id. Finally, Leon avers that L&L’s marketing is not directed towards or
intended for Louisiana residents.
II. Rule 12(b)(2) Standard
“Where a defendant challenges personal jurisdiction, the party seeking to
invoke the power of the court bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists.”
Luv N'care, Ltd. v. Insta–Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006) When a court
rules on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without holding an
evidentiary hearing, as in this case, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie
showing of personal jurisdiction. Guidry v. U.S. Tobacco, Co., Inc., 188 F.3d 619,
625 (5th Cir. 1999). “The allegations of the complaint, except insofar as controverted
by opposing affidavits, must be taken as true, and all conflicts in the facts must be
Hawk Logistics and Sol Express Inc. were named as defendants but terminated pursuant to LR
41.3 for failure to serve. R. 27.
Yamileth Leon attests that she is “the Vice President of L&L Insurance Agency.”
R. 29-3, ¶ 2.
resolved in favor of the plaintiff[ ] for purposes of determining whether a prima facie
case for personal jurisdiction has been established.” Thompson v. Chrysler Motors
Corp., 755 F.2d 1162, 1165 (5th Cir. 1985). “In determining whether personal
jurisdiction exists, the trial court is not restricted to a review of the plaintiff's
pleadings.” Jobe v. ATR Mktg., Inc., 87 F.3d 751, 753 (5th Cir. 1996). The Court may
consider matters outside the complaint, including affidavits, interrogatories,
depositions, or any combination of the recognized methods of discovery. Id.
Jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant is proper when (1) the defendant is
amenable to service of process under the long-arm statute of the forum state and (2)
the exercise of personal jurisdiction is consistent with the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. Dalton v. R&W Marine, Inc., 897 F.2d 1359, 1361 (5th Cir.
1990). In the instant case, “these two inquiries merge into one because Louisiana's
long-arm statute permits service of process coterminous with the scope of the due
process clause.” Nuovo Pignone, SpA v. STORMAN ASIA M/V, 310 F.3d 374, 378 (5th
Cir. 2002) (reversed in part on other grounds) citing La. R.S. 13:3201(B). “The Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects a corporation, as it does an
individual, against being made subject to “the binding judgments of a forum with
which it has established no meaningful ‘contacts, ties, or relations.’” Pervasive
Software Inc. v. Lexware GmbH & Co. KG, 688 F.3d 214, 220 5th Cir. 2012). A court
may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant when “(1) that
defendant has purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of the forum
state by establishing ‘minimum contacts’ with the forum state and (2) the exercise of
personal jurisdiction over that defendant does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice.’” Latshaw v. Johnston, 167 F.3d 208, 211 (5th Cir. 1999)
quoting Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316.
“Minimum contacts” can be established through specific jurisdiction or general
jurisdiction. Alpine View Co. Ltd. v. Atlas Copco AB, 205 F.3d 208, 215 (5th Cir.
2000). Specific personal jurisdiction exists (1) when a defendant has purposely
directed its activities, or availed itself of the privileges of conducting its activities,
toward the forum state; (2) the controversy arises out of or is related to those
activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction is fair, just, and reasonable. Nuovo
Pignone, SpA, 310 F.3d 378 citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462,
472 (1985). General personal jurisdiction exists when the defendant has engaged in
continuous and systematic activities in the forum state, regardless of whether such
activity is related to the plaintiff's cause of action. Helicopteros Nacionales de
Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 (1984).
“If a nonresident defendant has sufficient related or unrelated minimum
contacts with the forum, we must then consider whether the ‘fairness' prong of the
jurisdictional inquiry is satisfied.” Wilson v. Belin, 20 F.3d 644, 647 (5th Cir. 1994).
The fairness inquiry is determined by analyzing several factors: (1) the burden upon
the nonresident defendant of litigating in the forum state; (2) the interests of the
forum state; (3) the plaintiff's interest in securing relief; (4) the judicial system's
interest in obtaining an efficient resolution of controversies; and (5) the shared
interest of the states in furthering fundamental substantive social policies. Bullion v.
Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 216 n.5 (5th Cir. 1990).
Though Plaintiffs have not filed an opposition, the Court may not simply grant
the motion as unopposed. The Fifth Circuit has stated, “[F]ailure to oppose a 12(b)(6)
motion is not in itself grounds for granting the motion. Rather, a court assesses the
legal sufficiency of the complaint.” See, e.g.,Servicios Azucareros de Venezuela, C.A.
v. John Deere Thibodeaux, Inc., 702 F.3d 794, 806 (5th Cir. 2012).
In their Original Petition, Plaintiffs make the conclusory allegation that L&L
is a foreign insurer authorized to do and doing business in Louisiana. R. 1-1. “The
court is not obligated to credit conclusory allegations, even if uncontroverted.”
Lansing Trade Grp., LLC v. 3B Biofuels GmbH & Co., KG, 612 F. Supp. 2d 813, 819
(S.D. Tex. 2009). The affidavit of Leon filed into the record by L&L provides that
L&L never provided any insurance coverage to any of the defendants and never had
contact of any kind with the state of Louisiana. Plaintiffs have submitted no evidence
to contradict this statement. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed
to make out a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction with regard to L&L.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant L&L Insurance Agency’s Motion to
Dismiss is GRANTED and all claims against it are DISMISSED WITHOUT
Thus done and signed this 5th day of December, 2017 at Lafayette, Louisiana.
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