Alisoglu et al v. Central States Thermo King of Oklahoma, Incorporated et al
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT CENTRAL STATES' 19 MOTION to Dismiss Amended Complaint for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. Central States Thermo King of Oklahoma, Incorporated terminated. Signed by District Judge Gerald E. Rosen. (RGun)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
ROY ALISOGLU and NANCY ALISOGLU,
Hon. Gerald E. Rosen
CENTRAL STATES THERMO KING OF
OKLAHOMA, INC., an Oklahoma corporation,
4-STAR TRAILERS, INC., an Oklahoma
corporation, and OUTLAW CONVERSION, INC.,
a Texas corporation,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT CENTRAL STATES’
MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF
This matter is presently before the Court on the Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint for Lack of Jurisdiction filed by Defendant Central States
Thermo King of Oklahoma, Inc. (“Central States”). Plaintiffs have responded to the
motion and Central States has replied. Having reviewed and considered the parties’
briefs and the record of this matter, the Court has concluded that oral argument is not
necessary. Therefore, pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), this
matter will be decided “on the briefs.” This Opinion and Order sets forth the Court’s
II. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND
In July 2010, Plaintiffs Roy and Nancy Alisoglu, Michigan citizens, traveled to
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to purchase a 4-Star horse trailer with living quarters from
Defendant Central States, a dealership located in Oklahoma City. The Alisoglus gained
knowledge of the trailer from viewing Central States’ listing on a third-party marketplace
website: www.horsetrailerworld.com. Central States’ listings on this site allows viewers
to access a website that Central States itself maintains: www.trailersokc.com. Visitors
to this website can view pictures and details about the listed trailers. The site also
provides information as to whom to contact for price quotes. However, customers are
unable to purchase trailers or pay invoices via this website.
Upon viewing Central States’ listing of a 4-Star trailer with an Outlaw interior that
they were interested in, the Alisoglus contacted Central States via the toll-free telephone
number provided in the listing. Following that telephone conversation, a Central States
employee emailed the Alisoglus additional pictures and details about the trailer.
The Alisoglus then arranged with the employee to visit the Central States
Oklahoma City dealership on Saturday, July 10, 2010, even though the dealer is
ordinarily closed for business on weekends. During that July 10, 2010 visit, pursuant to
the Alisoglus’ request, Central States agreed to install a larger water tank and arranged
for Defendant Outlaw Conversion, Inc. (“Outlaw”) to install a DirecTV satellite dish on
the trailer. The Alisoglus then executed a purchase agreement and made a $40,000 down
payment on the trailer.
After executing the purchase agreement, the Alisoglus returned to Michigan.
Soon thereafter, Central States called them in order to secure payment of the remaining
balance of the purchase price by the end of July so that the dealer could “close out its
books.” The Plaintiffs, accordingly, mailed Central States a cashier’s check from
Michigan for the balance of the purchase price on July 25, 2010. Then, in September
2010, the Alisoglus once again drove to Oklahoma to take delivery of the trailer.
On their way back to Michigan, however, Plaintiffs traveled through a storm and
noticed that water was beginning to accumulate in the horse area of the trailer. They
immediately contacted Central States to report the problem, and an employee at Central
States directed them to contact Defendant 4-Star Trailers, Inc. (“4-Star”), the
manufacturer of the trailer. The Alisoglus were then directed by 4-Star to contact Triple
C Trailer Sales Inc., (“Triple C”) in Watervliet, Michigan, the nearest authorized 4-Star
dealer and repair center, which was 190 miles from the Alisoglus’ home.
Triple C’s first attempt to repair the trailer in November 2010 was unsuccessful as
the leak continued. The Alisoglus again contacted Central States and were advised by
both Central States and 4-Star to return the trailer to Triple C for more repair work. The
Alisoglus complied and took the trailer to Triple C a total of seven times, but the problem
persisted. In May 2011, Defendant Outlaw, the supplier and installer of the interior of the
living quarters, arranged for the transfer of the trailer to its place of business in
Stephenville, Texas for repair. Mr. Alisoglu thereafter traveled to Texas to inspect the
trailer and was assured that the leak had been repaired. Outlaw then returned the trailer
to the Plaintiffs in August 2011, but the trailer continued to leak.
As a result of the failure to repair the leak, the Alisoglus commenced this action
against Defendants Central States, 4-Star, and Outlaw on January 18, 2012, alleging that
each defendant violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, as well as Oklahoma state
law. See 15 U.S.C. § 2304(a)(4); OK. ST. T. 12A § 2-313. Central States responded
with a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(2). After Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, Central States filed the instant
motion to dismiss the amended complaint.
STANDARDS APPLICABLE TO MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF
Although this matter is before the Court on Defendant Central States’ motion to
dismiss, Plaintiffs have the burden of establishing that the exercise of jurisdiction over
the defendant is proper. Neogen Corp. v. Neo Gen Screening, Inc., 282 F.3d 883, 887
(6th Cir. 2002). Where, as here, there has been no evidentiary hearing regarding personal
jurisdiction, the plaintiffs “need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction.” Id.
(quoting Compuserve, Inc. v. Patterson, 89 F.3d 1257, 1262 (6th Cir. 1996)). However,
it is insufficient for the plaintiffs to merely reassert the allegations contained in their
pleadings. Theunissen v. Matthews, 935 F.2d 1454, 1458 (6th Cir. 1991). The plaintiffs
must articulate specific facts to show that the court has jurisdiction. Id. The court must
then consider all the facts presented in the pleadings and affidavits in a light most
favorable to the plaintiffs, and does not weigh any contrary allegations offered by the
defendant. Intera Corp v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 614 (6th Cir. 2005).
LIMITATIONS ON THE COURT’S EXERCISE OF PERSONAL
JURISDICTION OVER A DEFENDANT
Although both the Plaintiffs and Defendant seem to have glossed over this fact, it
is worth noting that Plaintiffs brought this action in this Court pursuant to both federal
question subject matter jurisdiction and diversity of citizenship. Though this dual basis
for subject matter jurisdiction could impact a court’s personal jurisdiction analysis, as
shown below, in this case, it does not.
A federal court sitting in diversity is limited in its exercise of personal jurisdiction
by the state’s long-arm statute and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
See Neogen Corp. v. Neo Gen Screening, Inc., 282 F.3d 883, 888 (6th Cir.2002) (“A
federal court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction in a diversity of citizenship case must be
both (1) authorized by the law of the state in which it sits, and (2) in accordance with the
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”) In general, this calls for
application of the “minimum contacts” doctrine established by International Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945).
Where, however, a federal court’s subject matter jurisdiction over a case stems
from the existence of a federal question, the personal jurisdiction analysis depends on
whether the federal statute in question contains a national service of process provision.
The existence of a national service of process provision “confers personal jurisdiction in
any federal district court over a defendant with minimum contacts to the United States.”
Medical Mutual of Ohio v. DeSoto, 248 F.3d 561, 567 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting United
Liberty Lobby Life Ins. Co. v. Ryan, 958 F.2d 1320, 1330 (6th Cir. 1993)). As the Sixth
Circuit explained in DeSoto,
[T]he personal jurisdiction requirement restricts judicial power as a matter
of individual liberty – the individual’s due process right not to be subject to
extra-territorial jurisdiction unless he has a sufficient relationship with the
state asserting jurisdiction. When, however, a federal court sitting pursuant
to federal question jurisdiction exercises personal jurisdiction over a U.S.
citizen or resident based on a congressionally authorized nationwide service
of process provision, that individual liberty interest is not threatened. In
such cases, the individual is not being subject to extra-territorial
jurisdiction, because the individual is within the territory of the sovereign –
the United States – exercising jurisdiction. In other words, when a federal
court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to a national service of process
provision, it is exercising jurisdiction for the territory of the United States
and the individual liberty concern is whether the individual over which the
court is exercising jurisdiction has sufficient minimum contacts with the
248 F.3d at 567-68.
Here, Plaintiffs are asserting violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15
U.S.C. § 2301 et seq., as the basis for federal question jurisdiction. The Magnuson-Moss
Act, however, does not authorize nationwide service. See Weinstein v. Todd Marine
Enterprises, 115 F. Supp. 2d 668, 671 (E.D.Va.2000). The Supreme Court has held that
when there is no provision authorizing nationwide service, federal courts must follow
Rule 4(k) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which, inter alia, limits a court’s
exercise of personal jurisdiction to persons who can be reached by the forum state’s longarm statute. Omni Capital Int’l v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., 484 U.S. 97, 108 (1987).
The end result of Omni is to require a court to apply in federal question cases such
as this case where there is no provision authorizing nationwide service of process a
personal jurisdiction test very similar to that used in diversity cases: “Where a federal
court’s subject matter jurisdiction over a case stems from the existence of a federal
question, personal jurisdiction over a defendant exists ‘if the defendant is amenable to
service of process under the [forum] state’s long-arm statute and if the exercise of
personal jurisdiction would not deny the defendant[ ] due process.’” Bird v Parsons, 289
F.3d 865, 871 (6th Cir. 2002) (quoting Michigan Coalition of Radioactive Material
Users, Inc. v. Griepentrog, 954 F.2d 1174, 1176 (6th Cir.1992) (internal citations
Michigan’s Long-Arm Statute
Under Michigan law, a Michigan forum may assert either general or limited
jurisdiction over a non-resident corporation. See M.C.L. §§ 600.711; 600.715. The
Alisoglus do not claim that general personal jurisdiction over Central States exists.
Therefore, the Court will only consider whether it may exercise limited personal
jurisdiction over Defendant Central States.
Michigan’s Long-Arm statute extends limited jurisdiction over non-resident
corporations in the following instances:
The existence of any of the following relationships between a corporation or its
agent and the state shall constitute a sufficient basis of jurisdiction to enable the
courts of record of this state to exercise limited personal jurisdiction over such
corporation and to enable such courts to render personal judgments against such
corporation arising out of the act or acts which create any of the following
(1) The transaction of any business within the state.
M.C.L. § 600.715.
The Michigan Supreme court has held that the word “any” in M.C.L. § 600.715(1)
“means just what it says.” It includes each and every act of business in the state, and is
satisfied by even “the slightest act of business in Michigan.” Neogen, 282 F.3d at 888;
Lanier v. American Bd. of Endodontics, 843 F.2d 901, 905-06 (6th Cir. 1988) cert.
denied, 488 U.S. 926 (1988) (quoting Sifers v. Horen, 385 Mich. 195, 199 n.2 (1971)).
In Lanier, the Sixth Circuit determined that the Illinois-based American Board of
Endodontics’ exchange of correspondence and telephone calls with a dentist in Michigan,
including its collection of application fee as part of an agreement to consider her
credentials for Board certification for practice in Michigan, constituted transaction of
business in Michigan within meaning of Michigan long-arm statute. 843 F.2d at 906-908.
In Neogen, the defendant, a Pennsylvania corporation, transacted business in Michigan by
accepting blood samples for testing from Michigan, mailing the results to Michigan,
making the results available to Michigan residents on a website, and accepting payment
through the mail from Michigan. Neogen, 282 F.3d at 888. In Dedvukaj v. Maloney, 447
F. Supp. 2d 813 (E.D. Mich. 2006), this Court found the requirements of §600.715(1)
satisfied where the defendant communicated with the Michigan plaintiff through email
messages and telephone calls, accepted plaintiff’s auction bids via a website, and
accepted the plaintiff’s payment from the state of Michigan. Dedvukaj v. Maloney, 447
F. Supp. 2d 818-19.
In the present case, viewing the facts in a light most favorable to Plaintiffs,
Defendant Central States transacted business in Michigan within the meaning of §
600.715(1) when its employee(s) communicated with Plaintiffs through e-mail and
telephone calls and when it accepted payment on the trailer purchase through the mail
from Michigan. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have made a prima facie
showing of satisfaction of the first prong of the test for personal jurisdiction.
Due Process Considerations
Although personal jurisdiction may be authorized under Michigan’s long-arm
statute, this Court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction in violation of the Due Process
Clause. Neogen, 282 F.3d at 889. Plaintiffs must also make a prima facie showing that
the exercise of personal jurisdiction does not offend due process. CompuServe, 89 F.3d
at 1262. Plaintiffs must demonstrate that Defendants have sufficient “minimum contacts”
with Michigan such that finding personal jurisdiction will not offend “traditional notions
of fair play and substantial justice.” International Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316
(1945). Minimum contacts exist when “the defendant’s conduct and connection with the
forum state are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.”
World-Wide Volkswagen Corp, v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). Further, it is
necessary that the defendant “purposefully avail himself of the privilege of conducting
activities within the forum state, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.”
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985).
To satisfy the due process requirements for limited or specific jurisdiction, the
Sixth Circuit has articulated a three-part test:
First, the defendant must purposely avail himself of the privilege of acting in the
forum state or causing a consequence in the forum state. Second, the cause of
action must arise from the defendant’s activities there. Finally, the acts of the
defendant or consequences caused by the defendant must have a substantial
enough connection with the forum state to make the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over the defendant reasonable.
Neogen at 889-90; Intera v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 616 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Southern Machine Company v. Mohasco Industries, Inc., 401 F.2d 374, 381 (6th Cir.
1968)). Failure to meet any one of the three prongs of the Southern Machine test means
that personal jurisdiction may not be invoked. Lak, Inc. v. Deer Creek Enterprises, 885
F.2d 1293, 1303 (6th Cir. 1989).
Purposeful availment is the “constitutional touchstone” of personal jurisdiction,
and is present where the defendant’s contacts with the forum state “proximately result
from action by the defendant himself that creates a substantial connection with the forum
state.” Neogen, supra, 282 F.3d at 889 (quoting Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475). The
defendant must engage in intentional, purposeful contact with the forum state which
invokes the “benefits and protections” of the forum laws. Burger King Corp. v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. at 475-76 (quoting Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253, 78 S.Ct.
1228, 1239-40 (1958)). Stated another way, purposeful availment requires that there be a
substantial connection between the defendant’s conduct and the state which would cause
the defendant to reasonably anticipate being haled into court in that jurisdiction and that
the contact must not be “random, fortuitous, or attenuated or [based on] the unilateral
activity of another party or third person.” Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. at
Therefore, purposeful availment is only satisfied by “something akin either to a
deliberate undertaking to do or cause an act or thing to be done in Michigan or conduct
which can properly be regarded as a prime generating cause of the effects resulting in
Michigan, something more than just a passive availment of opportunities.” The Sports
Auth. Michigan, Inc. v. Justballs, Inc., 97 F. Supp. 2d 806, 811 (E.D. Mich. 2000).
The courts have considered the activities by the parties via internet websites when
determining the existence of personal jurisdiction. Dawson v. Pepin, 2001 WL 822346,
at *5 (W.D. Mich. 2001). In making a determination of sufficiency, the courts adhere to
the traditional expectations of personal jurisdiction. Id. Therefore, the defendant must
have “reached out beyond its own state to engage in transactions with residents of the
forum state” in order to establish purposeful availment. Id. However, such “reaching
out” is not established by maintaining a website that only contains information regarding
a company’s products and an “800” contact number. Id. (citing Edberg v. Neogen Corp.,
17 F. Supp. 2d 104, 114 (D. Conn. 1998)).
The Sixth Circuit has adopted the Zippo “sliding scale” analysis in order to
determine whether the existence of a website constitutes purposeful availment. Neogen,
282 F.3d at 890 (citing Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F. Supp. 1119, 1124
(W.D. Pa. 1997)). Pursuant to this scale, websites generally fall under one of three
categories of interactivity: (1) purely passive sites that only offer information for the user
to access; (2) active sites that clearly transact business and/or form contracts; and (3)
hybrid or interactive sites that allow users to exchange information with the host
computer. Zippo Mfg. Co., 952 F. Supp. at 1124.
By application of Zippo, a defendant may be found to have purposefully availed
itself of the privilege of acting in a state if it acts through a website that “is interactive to
a degree that reveals specifically intended interaction with residents of the state.” Digital
Filing Systems, Inc. v. Frontier Consulting, Inc., 2006 WL 1663281, *3 (E.D .Mich.
2006) (quoting Zippo). An interactive website can subject the defendant to specific
personal jurisdiction. The Cadle Company v. Schlictmann, 123 Fed. Appx. 675, 678 (6th
In Dawson v.Pepin, supra, the court determined that because internet users could
only order products by calling the “800” number or writing to the company at the address
listed on the defendant’s website, the website was not interactive and, as such, the
defendant’s maintenance of the website was insufficient to grant personal jurisdiction.
Dawson, 2001 WL 822346, at *5; see also Neogen, supra, 282 F.3d at 89 (maintenance
of a “passive” website accessible in the state of Michigan does not constitute purposeful
availment); Mink v. AAAA Development, LLC, 190 F.3d 333, 336 (5th Cir. 1999) (holding
that a website that does not allow orders to be taken but provides information about a
company’s products and services, provides users with a printable mail-in order form,
posts the company’s toll-free telephone number, a mailing address and an e-mail address
“does not classify the website as anything more than passive advertisement which is not
grounds for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.” Id.)
By contrast, the defendant’s operation of an interactive website accessible from
the forum can subject him to personal jurisdiction. Dedvukaj, 447 F. Supp. 2d at 820
(citing The Cadle Company v. Schlictmann, 123 Fed. Appx. 675, 678 (6th Cir. 2005)).
In Dedvukaj, this Court considered whether it could exercise personal jurisdiction
over a New York defendant based in part on the defendant’s interaction with a Michigan
plaintiff via the internet auction site www.eBay.com (“eBay”). 447 F. Supp. 2d at 81512
16. The defendant in Dedvukaj was selling copies of artwork on eBay misrepresented as
originals. Id. at 822. The defendant’s eBay page indicated that he would ship anywhere
in the United States, and provided the defendant’s contact information. Id. The
Michigan plaintiff successfully bid online on two of the defendant’s paintings. Id. In the
course of bidding and the subsequent purchase of the painting, the plaintiff spoke with
the defendant over the phone and exchanged emails with him. Id. The court held that
because the defendant accepted business from Michigan and participated in ongoing
communications with the plaintiff during the course of the online transaction, personal
jurisdiction over the defendant was proper. Id.
In assessing internet contacts, the courts also consider whether the defendant’s
online activity is specifically targeted at the forum state. Neogen, 282 F.3d at 890. In
Sports Authority v. Justballs Inc., 97 F. Supp. 2d 806, 811 (E.D. Mich. 2000), the court
relied heavily on the defendant’s interactive website in finding that jurisdiction was
proper. Justballs, 97 F. Supp. 2d at 813-14. The defendant’s website in that case was
highly interactive in that it allowed customers to browse through the site for specific
products, place selected items in a virtual “shopping cart,” pay for their purchase via
credit card, and track the shipment of their purchases. Id. And, although the website was
accessible nationwide, the court also noted that the website sold products that appeared to
be aimed at Michigan residents, such as sports memorabilia with the logos of the Detroit
Lions, the Detroit Tigers, and University of Michigan. Id.
In this case, Central States used a third-party website,
www.horsetrailerworld.com, to advertise trailers it had for sale. This site, however, is a
passive site that does not allow the viewer to make purchases nor contact a seller directly.
The buyer has to take the additional step of using the contact information provided on the
site to either call or email the seller. With regard to Central States’ own site,
www.trailersokc.com, which has a “link” on www.horsetrailerworld.com, that site also
merely provides information regarding the dealership and the products available, but does
not provide a virtual store from which potential buyers may purchase trailers.
The Alisoglus nonetheless suggest that Central States purposely availed itself of
the forum state when it emailed additional pictures and details of the trailer they had
requested. In addition, the Alisoglus point to the email and phone conversations for the
payment of the balance of the purchase price as evidence of purposeful availment, as
Summarizing the contacts relied upon by Plaintiffs: (1) Central States advertises
its products on one nationally accessible third-party website and a company website; (2) a
Central States employee responded to Plaintiffs’ inquiry about its trailers via telephone
and via email; (3) one or more Central States employees contacted the Plaintiffs seeking
payment of the remainder of the balance due on the purchase price of the trailer; and (4)
Central States accepted a cashier’s check for the balance which Plaintiffs mailed from
It is worth bearing in mind that the unilateral activity of the plaintiff cannot be
used to establish purposeful contact of the defendant. “Jurisdiction is proper, however,
where the contacts proximately result from actions by the defendant himself that create a
‘substantial connection’ with the forum State.” Air Products & Controls, Inc. v. Safetech
Int’l, Inc., 503 F.3d 544, 551 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz,
supra) (emphasis in original). As a consequence, the actions of the Alisoglus in viewing
the third-party website and company website, along with calling to inquire about the
trailer, visiting Oklahoma to view the trailer, signing the purchase agreement, and taking
receipt of the trailer in Oklahoma are wholly unrelated to the issue of Central States’
contacts with Michigan for purposes of determining personal jurisdiction. The fact that
Central States was aware when it entered into the purchase agreement that the Alisoglus
are Michigan residents while it is an Oklahoma resident is insufficient to establish
purposeful availment. See LAK, Inc. v. Deer Creek Enterprises, 885 F.2d 1293, 1301
(6th Cir. 1989). Further, the fact that Central States was aware that the Plaintiffs would
take the trailer to Michigan is also insufficient.
The nationally accessible websites are also insufficient on their own to confer
personal jurisdiction. The Court finds that both websites are passive under the Zippo
analysis. Therefore, they provide insufficient basis for personal jurisdiction. The
determinative factors are that the websites merely provide information about products
that are available for purchase nationally, and the prospective buyers are unable to make
purchases via the websites. The telephone communications between Central States and
the Alisoglus are also insufficient. See Dawson v. Pepin, supra, 2001 WL 822346 at *5
(citing Holt Oil v. Gas Corp. v. Harvey, 801 F.2d 773, 778 (5th Cir. 1986)) (“[A]n
exchange of communications between a resident and a non-resident in developing a
contract is insufficient of itself to be characterized as purposeful activity”); Stuart v.
Spademan, 772 F.2d 1185, 1193-94 (5th Cir. 1985) (same).
For purposes of personal jurisdiction, based upon the foregoing, Central States did
not have fair warning that it could be haled into a Michigan court as a result of its
business activities with a resident of the state, particularly where, as here, the purchase
agreement was executed by both Plaintiffs and Defendant in Oklahoma, and Plaintiffs
accepted delivery of the trailer in Oklahoma, as well. Therefore, the Court concludes
that the Alisoglus have not demonstrated that the purposeful availment prong of the
Southern Machine due process test has been satisfied.
Arising from Defendant’s Activities
The second requirement of the Southern Machine test is that “the cause of action
must arise from the defendant’s activities” in Michigan. “Although this does not require
that the cause of action arise formally and directly from defendant’s contacts with the
forum, the cause of action must still ‘have a substantial connection with the defendant’s
in-state activities.” Dean v.Motel 6 Operating L.P.,, 134 F.3d 1269, 1275 (6th Cir.
1998). However, where, as here, plaintiffs fail to demonstrate a sufficient level of
contacts satisfy the purposeful availment prong, it is unnecessary for a court to consider
the other two requirements as “each criterion represents an independent requirement and
failure to meet any one of the three means that personal jurisdiction may not be
invoked.” Lak, Inc. v. Deer Creek Enterprises, 885 F.2d at 1303; Dean v. Motel 6
Operating LP, 134 F.3d at 1275 (where there is no purposeful availment, there is no
reason for the court to analyze the defendant’s in-state activities to determine whether the
“arising from” requirement is met); Commercial Metal Forming Group v. Utilities
Optimization Group LLC, 2011 WL 5023265 at *6 (N.D. Ohio 2011) (same).
Since the Alisoglus have failed to demonstrate a sufficient level of activity by
Central State in Michigan to establish sufficient minimum contacts with Michigan to
satisfy the purposeful availment prong, the Court need not address the arising from
prong. Briefly, however, although the Court acknowledges that the “arising from”
standard is a lenient one, Air Products and Controls, Inc. v. Safetech Intern., Inc., 503
F.3d 544, 553-54 (6th Cir. 2007), in this case, where the Defendant’s contacts with the
forum were attenuated, at best, more than the mere existence of a contract with a
Michigan citizen is required to show that this breach of warranty action “arises from”
Defendant’s contacts. See Lak, Inc. v. Deer Creek Enterprises, supra, 885 F.2d at 1303.
Here, there is little else than the existence of a contract, and therefore, Plaintiffs would
fail on this second prong, as well.
In any event, because, as indicated each of the three prongs of the Southern
Machine test represents an independent requirement and the failure to satisfy any one
prong means that personal jurisdiction may not be invoked, even if the Court were to find
the “arising from” prong satisfied, because the “purposeful availment” prong has not
been met, the outcome would be the same.
For sake of completeness, the Court will address the final prong of the Southern
If prongs one and two of Southern Machine test are satisfied, then there is an
inference that the reasonableness prong is satisfied, as well. CompuServe, Inc. v.
Patterson, 89 F.3d 1257, 1268 (6th Cir.1996) (citing Am. Greetings Corp. v. Cohn, 839
F.2d 1164, 1170 (6th Cir.1988)). However, because the Court has found that Plaintiffs
have failed to satisfy the “purposeful availment” and “arising from” requirements, an
inference of reasonableness is not warranted in this case.
The third prong of the Southern Machine test mandates that “the acts of the
defendant or consequences caused by the defendant must have a substantial enough
connection with the forum state to make the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant
reasonable.” See Youn v. Track, Inc., 324 F.3d 409, 419 (6th Cir.2003) (citation omitted).
Generally, when considering whether it is reasonable to exercise personal jurisdiction
over a non-resident defendant, a court considers several factors including the following:
(1) the burden on the defendant; (2) the interest of the forum state; (3) the plaintiff’s
interest in obtaining relief; and (4) other states’ interest in securing the most efficient
resolution of the controversy. Patterson, 89 F.3d at 1268. The Court will address each of
these factors seriatim.
First, Defendant Central States would be substantially burdened if it were
compelled to litigate this case in Michigan given the fact that Defendant does not reside
in this state. Nevertheless, courts routinely have deemed specific jurisdiction to be proper
even when a defendant would be compelled to travel. See Youn, 324 F.3d at 420 (citing
Lanier v. Am. Bd. of Endodontics, 843 F.2d 901, 911-12 (6th Cir.1988) (permitting
personal jurisdiction in Michigan over Illinois defendant); Cohn, 839 F.2d at 1170-71
(upholding personal jurisdiction in Ohio over California defendant)).
Second, though Michigan would have a strong interest in exercising jurisdiction
over Central States because Plaintiffs are residents of the state of Michigan, which would
have an interest in “protecting its residents’ legal options,” Youn, 324 F.3d at 419, the
fact that Plaintiffs contracted with Defendant in Oklahoma and took delivery of the
allegedly defective trailer in Oklahoma appears to diminish Michigan’s interest. See
Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d at 618. Although under the third consideration,
Plaintiffs have a substantial interest in obtaining relief, given the fact that Central States
is a resident of Oklahoma where Plaintiffs entered into the contract for the purchase of
the trailer and where Plaintiffs took delivery of the trailer, it appears that as to the fourth
factor, the state of Oklahoma may have a stronger interest in resolving this controversy.
See Intera, 428 F.3d at 318.
Weighing the foregoing factors, the Court concludes that it would not be
reasonable for a Michigan court to exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant Central
In sum, the Court finds that the Plaintiffs have failed to present a prima facie case
showing that exercising personal jurisdiction over Central States would not violate Due
For all of the foregoing reasons,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Central States’ Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint [Dkt. No. 19] is GRANTED. Accordingly,
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Complaint against Defendant Central
States Thermo King of Oklahoma is DISMISSED.
s/Gerald E. Rosen
Chief Judge, United States District Court
Dated: May 11, 2012
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of record on
May 11, 2012, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
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