Woods v. Barker et al
OPINION and ORDER Granting Defendants' 5 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. Signed by District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III. (DPar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 2:17-cv-11268
HONORABLE STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III
TY BARKER and CRAIG HUNTER,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION 
Plaintiff Randall Woods filed a complaint against Defendants Ty Barker and Craig
Hunter for breach of contract and conversion. Barker and Hunter filed a motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. For the reasons below, the Court will
grant the motion and dismiss the case.
Michigan resident Woods placed an advertisement online in the Wyoming "Craigslist"
classifieds to sell equipment located in Wyoming. Texas residents Barker and Hunter called
Woods on the telephone to inquire. The parties agreed to terms of sale over the telephone,
and Woods emailed Barker a quote for the sale of the equipment. Barker signed the quote
in Texas and emailed it back to Woods in Michigan.
Under the terms of the agreement, Barker and Hunter agreed to pick up the
equipment in Wyoming, and transport it back to Texas. Barker and Hunter also agreed to
wire three installment payments to Woods's Michigan bank account. After Barker and
Hunter paid the first two installments, however, a dispute arose. They refused to pay the
final installment payment. Woods filed suit in Michigan. Barker's and Hunter's motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue followed.
"On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), the
plaintiff has the burden of proving the court's jurisdiction over the defendant." SFS Check,
LLC v. First Bank of Delaware, 990 F. Supp. 2d 762, 769 (E.D. Mich 2013). "[I]n the face
of a properly supported motion for dismissal, the plaintiff may not stand on his pleadings
but must, by affidavit or otherwise, set forth specific facts showing that the court has
jurisdiction." Id. "Presented with a properly supported 12(b)(2) motion and opposition, the
court has three procedural alternatives: it may decide the motion upon the affidavit alone;
it may permit discovery in aid of deciding the motion; or it may conduct an evidentiary
hearing to resolve any apparent factual questions." Theunissen v. Matthews, 935 F.2d
1454, 1458 (6th Cir. 1991).
"On a motion to dismiss for improper venue, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving
that venue is proper." Audi AG & Volkswagen of Am., Inc. v. Izumi, 204 F. Supp. 2d 1014,
1017 (E.D. Mich. 2002). "The court may examine facts outside the complaint but must draw
all reasonable inferences and resolve factual conflicts in favor of the plaintiff." Id. "If a
defendant prevails on a Rule 12(b)(3) challenge, the court has the discretion to decide
whether the action should be dismissed or transferred to an appropriate court." Id.
"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." Neogen Corp. v. Neo Gen
Screening, Inc., 282 F.3d 883, 888 (6th Cir. 2002). If both requirements are not met, the
Court lacks personal jurisdiction. Id. Michigan's long-arm statute "bestow[s] the broadest
possible grant of personal jurisdiction consistent with due process." The Sports Authority
Michigan, Inc. v. Justballs, Inc., 810 (E.D. Mich. 2000). The statute authorizes limited
personal jurisdiction over nonresidents involved in "[t]he transaction of any business within
the state." Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.715. "[E]ven the slightest act of business in Michigan"
satisfies the statute, so long as the alleged cause-of-action arose from that act. Lanier v.
American Board of Endodontics, 843 F.2d 901 (6th Cir.1988).
E-mail and telephone communication with a Michigan party and receipt of payment
in Michigan may constitute the "transaction of business." See, e.g., id. at 907
("[D]efendants are clearly mistaken in asserting that phone calls and mailings cannot
constitute 'transacting business'" under Michigan's long-arm statute.). Here, Barker and
Hunter communicated with Woods through e-mail and telephone calls to Michigan, and
wired payment to Woods’s Michigan bank account. Woods alleges causes of action that
arise from the communications and payment. Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to
Woods, Barker and Hunter transacted business in Michigan within the meaning of
Michigan's long-arm statute. See ECF 1, PgID 4. Thus, the Court finds that Woods has met
his burden to show that Michigan's statute authorizes personal jurisdiction over Barker and
Although Michigan's long-arm statute is broad, the due process clause limits its reach.
To satisfy due process, Woods must demonstrate that Barker and Hunter have sufficient
"minimum contacts" with Michigan such that finding personal jurisdiction will not offend
"traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Neogen Corp., 282 F.3d at 889
(quoting Int'l Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Specifically, three
requirements must be met: (1) "the defendant must purposely avail himself of the privilege
of acting in the forum state or causing a consequence in the forum state"; (2) "the cause
of action must arise from the defendant's activities there"; (3) "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, 282 F.3d at 890.
Purposeful availment is "the 'constitutional touchstone' of personal jurisdiction[.]" Id.
(quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985)). The standard requires
that the defendant engage in intentional, purposeful contact with the forum state which
invokes the "benefits and protections" of the forum laws. Kerry Steel, Inc. v. Paragon
Indus., Inc., 106 F.3d 147, 150 (6th Cir. 1997) (quoting Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475).
Ultimately, purposeful availment requires a "substantial connection" between the
defendant's conduct and the state which would cause the defendant to "reasonably
anticipate being haled into court there." Neogen, 282 F.3d at 889 (quoting Burger King, 471
U.S. at 475). "The requirement 'ensures that a defendant will not be haled into a jurisdiction
solely as a result of "random," "fortuitous" or "attenuated" contacts.'" Kerry Steel, 106 F.3d
at 150 (quoting Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475).
Woods has not met his burden to show that Barker and Hunter purposefully availed
themselves of the benefits and protection of Michigan law. Barker and Hunter do not reside
in Michigan, do not employ persons in Michigan, do not have offices or property in
Michigan, have not been to Michigan, and do not have regular business contacts with
individuals in Michigan. Although Barker and Hunter entered into a contract with a Michigan
resident, "'an individual's contract with an out-of-state party alone' cannot 'automatically
establish minimum contacts.'" Id. at 151 (quoting Burger King, 471 U.S. at 478); see also
Alisoglu v. Cent. States Thermo King of Oklahoma, Inc., No. 12-CV-10230, 2012 WL
1666426, at *8 (E.D. Mich. May 11, 2012) (finding no purposeful availment of Michigan laws
because "the purchase agreement was executed by both Plaintiffs and Defendant in
Oklahoma, and Plaintiffs accepted delivery of the trailer in Oklahoma[.]").
Woods has not shown that the parties "intended to establish 'continuing relationships
and obligations' in Michigan." Kerry Steel, 106 F.3d at 151 (quoting Burger King, 471 U.S.
at 473). And there is no indication that the parties intended the contract "to have ongoing,
far-reaching consequences in the Michigan" equipment-sales market. Lanier, 843 F.2d at
911. Instead, Barker's and Hunter's contacts with Michigan were limited and isolated. The
parties' contracted for a one-time transaction. The contract regarded the sale of equipment
located in Wyoming, the terms of the contract required Woods to disassemble the
equipment in Wyoming, and Barker and Hunter to pick up the disassembled equipment in
Wyoming, and transport the equipment back to Texas. Although Barker and Hunter made
the initial telephone call to Woods in Michigan, that call was in response to an out-of-state
on-line advertisement placed by Woods in the Wyoming classifieds. Other than telephone
and e-mail communication and the payments, the entirety of the transaction took place
outside of Michigan.
In sum, Barker's and Hunter's contacts with Michigan appear highly attenuated and
would not lead them to reasonably anticipate being haled into a Michigan court. Since the
Court finds no purposeful availment, it need not analyze the remaining two due-process
requirements or the argument related to venue. The Court lacks personal jurisdiction and
must dismiss the complaint.
WHEREFORE, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss  is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
s/Stephen J. Murphy, III
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III
United States District Judge
Dated: July 21, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon the parties
and/or counsel of record on July 21, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/David P. Parker
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