LILLIE et al v. GUERRA et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDERsigned by JUDGE WILLIAM L. OSTEEN, JR. on 9/9/2021. For the reasons set forth herein, this court finds that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction (Doc. 13 ) is DENIED. (Daniel, J)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
BRIAN LILLIE, TRACY LILLIE,
GROUP, LLC, d/b/a COLUBRIS
VENTURES, ECREATIVE GROUP,
INC., and THREE WIDE MEDIA, LLC,
LUIS ALBERTO GUERRA and
ALAN JOHN HANKE,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OSTEEN, JR., District Judge
This matter comes before the court on Defendants’ Motion to
Dismiss, (Doc. 13), for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Defendants also filed a brief in support of their motion, (Doc.
14); Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition, (Doc. 16); and
Defendants filed a reply, (Doc. 17).
For the reasons stated herein, this court will deny
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
A majority of the facts are described here, but additional
relevant facts will be addressed as necessary throughout the
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opinion. According to the Complaint, Plaintiffs are all
residents of North Carolina. (Complaint (“Compl.”) (Doc. 9)
¶¶ 1-4.) Plaintiffs Brian and Tracy Lillie are residents of
Cabarrus County, North Carolina; Plaintiff Enterprise Holdings
Group, LLC (“EHG”) is a North Carolina Limited Liability
Company; Plaintiff eCreative Group, Inc., is an Iowa Corporation
with its principal place of business in Cabarrus County; and
Plaintiff Three Wide Media, LLC, is an Iowa Limited Liability
Company with its principal place of business in Cabarrus County.
(Id.) Defendant Alan John Hanke (“Hanke”) is a resident of
McHenry County, Illinois, and Defendant Luis Alberto Guerra
(“Guerra” or collectively “Defendants”) is a resident of Broward
County, Florida. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.)
Plaintiffs allege that EHG and a third party, World
Cryptocurrency Exchange Incorporation (“WCE”), executed an
investment agreement wherein WCE would provide EHG an initial
investment of funds, and EHG would invest those funds. ( Id.
¶ 7.) EHG also executed a profit share agreement which sets
forth compensation for consultants, who are responsible for
bringing investors in the business venture between WCE and EHG.
(Id. ¶ 8.) Defendants were consultants in this business venture.
(Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiffs allege that through no fault of their
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own, the goal of this business venture never came to fruition.
(Id. ¶ 20.)
Plaintiffs contend that after the business venture failed,
Defendants engaged in a variety of extortion tactics to attempt
to recover money Defendants believed Plaintiffs owed them. (Id.
¶¶ 21-22.) According to the Complaint, Defendants filed a false
police report with the Kannapolis Police Department . (Id. ¶ 23.)
Defendants also created websites to publish defamatory
statements about Plaintiffs and their businesses, in addition to
posting on other websites similar statements. (Id. ¶¶ 26-28,
41.) Additionally, Defendants sent Plaintiffs emails throughout
the summer 2019 and fall 2019 wherein Defendants accused
Plaintiffs of fraudulent business practices and threatened
Plaintiffs to pay Defendants. (Id. ¶¶ 29-40.) Moreover,
Defendants sent pictures via text message implying Defendants
were on their way to Plaintiffs, (id. ¶ 52), and sent
threatening text messages to Plaintiffs, (id. ¶¶ 46-53).
Plaintiffs assert claims of libel per se, libel per quod,
invasion of privacy – appropriation of likeness, intentional
infliction of emotional distress, unfair and deceptive trade
practices, and unjust enrichment. (Id. ¶¶ 58-96.) Plaintiffs
also seek punitive damages. (Id. ¶¶ 97-102.)
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Plaintiffs originally filed their Complaint on August 31,
2020, in Cabarrus County Superior Court. (Compl. (Doc. 9).) On
October 2, 2020, Defendants filed a Petition for Removal with
this court. (Doc. 1.) This court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332. On October 9, 2020, Defendants filed their Motion
to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 13.)
Plaintiffs responded, (Doc. 16); and Defendants replied,
(Doc. 17). This matter is ripe for adjudication.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
“Under Rule 12(b)(2), a defendant ‘must affirmatively raise
a personal jurisdiction challenge, but the plaintiff bears the
burden of demonstrating personal jurisdiction at every stage
following such a challenge.’” UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Kurbanov,
963 F.3d 344, 350 (4th Cir. 2020), cert. denied, ____ U.S. ____,
141 S. Ct. 1057 (2021) (quoting Grayson v. Anderson, 816 F.3d
262, 267 (4th Cir. 2016)). At the motion to dismiss stage, all
that is required to survive a motion to dismiss is for the
plaintiff to make a prima facie showing in support of this court
asserting personal jurisdiction. Universal Leather v. Koro AR,
S.A., 773 F.3d 553, 561 (4th Cir. 2014). This court construes
the complaint “in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
assume[s] credibility, and draw[s] the most favorable inferences
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 4 of 21
for the existence of jurisdiction.” New Wellington Fin. Corp. v.
Flagship Resort Dev. Corp., 416 F.3d 290, 294 (4th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Combs v. Bakker, 886
F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989)).
A federal district court may assert personal jurisdiction
over a non-resident defendant when two conditions are met: (1)
the applicable state’s long-arm statute provides a statutory
basis for asserting personal jurisdiction; and (2) the exercise
of personal jurisdiction complies with Fourteenth Amendment due
process requirements. See Christian Sci. Bd. of Dirs. of the
First Church of Christ, Scientist v. Nolan, 259 F.3d 209, 215
(4th Cir. 2001).
North Carolina’s Long-Arm Statute
North Carolina’s long-arm statute, N.C. Gen. Stat.
§ 1-75.4(1)d, extends “jurisdiction over nonresident defendants
to the full extent permitted by the Due Process Clause.” Id.
(citation omitted). Defendants do not challenge personal
jurisdiction under North Carolina’s long-arm statute. (Defs.’
Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss (“Defs.’ Br.”) (Doc. 14)
at 3-4.) Thus, this court’s sole inquiry is whether personal
jurisdiction is proper under the Due Process Clause. Christian
Sci. Bd. of Dirs., 259 F.3d at 215.
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 5 of 21
Due Process and Personal Jurisdiction
The Due Process Clause allows a court to exercise general
or specific jurisdiction over a defendant. General jurisdiction
exists “only when a defendant is ‘essentially at home’ in the
State.” Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., ____
U.S. ____, ____, 141 S. Ct. 1017, 1024 (2021) (quoting Goodyear
Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919
(2011)). An individual is subject to general jurisdiction in his
place of domicile. Id. (citing Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S.
117, 137 (2014)). Here, general jurisdiction is inappropriate
because Defendant Hanke is domiciled in Illinois, and Defendant
Guerra is domiciled in Florida. (Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶¶ 5, 6.)
On the other hand, specific jurisdiction exists when the
plaintiff’s claim arises from the defendant’s contacts with the
forum. See Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Super. Ct. of Cal., 582
U.S. ____, ____, 137 S. Ct. 1773, 1780 (2017) (quoting Daimler,
571 U.S. at 127). Courts use a three-part test to determine
whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with due
process: “(1) the extent to which the defendant purposefully
availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the
State; (2) whether the plaintiffs’ claims arise out of those
activities directed at the State; and (3) whether the exercise
of personal jurisdiction would be constitutionally reasonable.”
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ALS Scan, Inc. v. Digit. Serv. Consultants, Inc., 293 F.3d 707,
712 (4th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). This
court will consider each part in turn.
First, the defendant must have purposefully availed himself
of the forum. To determine whether Defendants purposefully
availed themselves of North Carolina, this court asks whether
“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) (internal citations omitted). “This ‘purposeful
availment’ requirement ensures that a defendant will not be
haled into a jurisdiction solely as a result of ‘random,’
‘fortuitous,’ or ‘attenuated’ contacts.” Burger King Corp. v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985) (quoting Keeton v. Hustler
Mag., Inc., 465 U.S 770, 774 (1984)).
When an out-of-state defendant has acted outside the forum
in a manner that injures a plaintiff within the forum, courts
examine whether “the defendant has intentionally directed his
tortious conduct toward the forum state, knowing that that
conduct would cause harm to a forum resident.” Carefirst of Md.,
Inc. v. Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs., Inc., 334 F.3d 390, 398
(2003) (citing Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 789-90 (1984)).
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 7 of 21
Defendants argue they have not purposefully availed
themselves of North Carolina because their online activity,
emails and text messages sent to Plaintiffs, as well as the
Kannapolis police report, were not directed at North Carolina or
a North Carolina audience. (See Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 2, 6.)
This court disagrees.
First, Defendants purposefully availed themselves of North
Carolina through their electronic activity. In ALS Scan, the
Fourth Circuit addressed “when electronic contacts with a State
are sufficient” to exercise personal jurisdiction. 293 F.3d at
713. The Fourth Circuit “adopt[ed] and adapt[ed]” the model
established in Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.
Supp. 1119 (W.D. Pa. 1997), which created a “sliding scale” for
examining whether electronic contacts give rise to specific
At one end of the spectrum are situations where a
defendant clearly does business over the Internet. If
the defendant enters into contracts with residents of
a foreign jurisdiction that involve the knowing and
repeated transmission of computer files over the
Internet, personal jurisdiction is proper. At the
opposite end are situations where a defendant has
simply posted information on an Internet Web site
which is accessible to users in foreign jurisdictions.
A passive Web site that does little more than make
information available to those who are interested in
it is not grounds for the exercise [of] personal
jurisdiction. The middle ground is occupied by
interactive Web sites where a user can exchange
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 8 of 21
information with the host computer. In these cases,
the exercise of jurisdiction is determined by
examining the level of interactivity and commercial
nature of the exchange of information that occurs on
the Web site.
ALS Scan, 293 F.3d at 713–14 (quoting Zippo, 952 F. Supp. at
1124). Applying Zippo, the Fourth Circuit held:
[A] State may, consistent with due process, exercise
judicial power over a person outside of the State when
that person (1) directs electronic activity into the
State, (2) with the manifested intent of engaging in
business or other interactions within the State, and
(3) that activity creates, in a person within the
State, a potential cause of action cognizable in the
Id. at 714.
According to the Complaint, Defendants purchased several
website domains, including brianlillie.info and
brianlilliescam.com, which included posts about Plaintiffs’
allegedly false business practices and allowed visitors to post
comments. (See Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶ 26.) Defendants also posted
similar accusations about Plaintiffs’ business practices on
other websites. (Id. ¶ 41.) In their Motion to Dismiss,
Defendants argue that there are no allegations that Defendants’
websites and Internet posts were specifically directed at a
North Carolina audience, (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 2, 6).
Defendants argue that these posts were “for educational and
informational purposes,” as Defendants’ posts were “to educate
and warn other potential investors, regardless of their
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 9 of 21
location,” and therefore do not subject Defendants to personal
jurisdiction in North Carolina. (Id. at 6-7) (citing Burleson v.
Toback, 391 F. Supp. 2d 401, 414 (M.D.N.C. 2005)).
Applying the ALS Scan factors to this case, this court
finds that Plaintiffs have made a prima facie showing that
Defendants purposefully availed themselves of North Carolina.
The first ALS Scan factor is met because Defendants directed
electronic activity into North Carolina by posting defamatory
material on websites accessible in North Carolina. (Compl. (Doc.
9) ¶¶ 26-28, 41.) Although the audience for the websites and
posts may have been nationwide, much of the content was aimed
toward North Carolina businesses, North Carolina business
owners, and businesses with a principal place of business in
North Carolina. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants’ very purpose
for this electronic activity was to pressure Plaintiffs into
paying Defendants. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 56.) Assuming the truth of
Plaintiffs’ allegations at this stage of the proceedings,
Plaintiffs have alleged that electronic activity was directed in
North Carolina in order to directly affect North Carolina
Regarding the second ALS Scan factor, this court finds
Plaintiffs have made a prima facie showing that Defendants had a
“manifested intent of engaging in business or other
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interactions” in North Carolina. 293 F.3d at 714. Although it
does not appear Defendants intended to engage in business in
North Carolina, Defendants’ electronic activity reflects an
intent to discourage Plaintiffs’ investors and customers from
doing business with Plaintiffs, going so far as to include
pictures of Plaintiffs and their addresses. (See e.g., Doc. 15-1
at 4 (“With this complaint we are warning investors and
businesses to be aware of the fraud and deception bei ng
committed by the owner of the companies listed below.”); Doc.
15-3 at 1 (“Brian J Lillie Brian Lillie and Stacy Lillie of
Kannapolis NC and Stacy K Lillie owe us around 800k for the past
two years. Every week they find a new excuse . . . [.]”).)
Additionally, all of Plaintiffs’ businesses have their principal
place of business in North Carolina, (Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶¶ 2 -4),
further indicating Defendants intended to engage in interactions
in North Carolina. See Lostutter v. Olsen, No. 1:16-cv-1098,
2017 WL 3669557, at *8 (M.D.N.C. Aug. 24, 2017) (“In part
because [the plaintiff’s] business was a brick-and-mortar store
located in Kernersville, North Carolina, Defendants’ attempts to
disrupt his business were likely aimed at North Carolina.”).
The third ALS Scan factor is also met because the
electronic activity created Plaintiffs’ potential causes of
action for libel, invasion of privacy, and intentional
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infliction of emotional distress, which are cognizable in North
Carolina’s courts. See ALS Scan, 293 F.3d at 714. Therefore,
this court finds Defendants purposefully availed themselves of
North Carolina through their electronic activity.
Emails and Text Messages
Second, Defendants purposefully availed themselves of North
Carolina through their emails and text messages to Plaintiffs.
Defendants assert that their text and email communications with
Plaintiffs lack a substantial relationship to North Carolina,
characterizing these communications as “single or sporadic” and
therefore insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction.
(Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 7.) Defendants concede that they did
contact Plaintiffs – who are North Carolina residents – through
these communications but assert that this was “because of their
preexisting business arrangement” and is therefore not a basis
for personal jurisdiction. (Id. at 9.) In response to
Plaintiffs’ claim that Defendants texted them pictures implying
Defendants had entered North Carolina to carry out their
threats, Defendants argue that “mere physical presence at one
time in the past is insufficient” to establish either general or
specific personal jurisdiction. (Id. at 5.) Defendants maintain
that “[t]here was no purposeful direction of activities at North
Carolina residents.” (Id. at 9.)
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The Fourth Circuit has held that emails and text messages
directed at the forum can give rise to specific jurisdiction.
See Universal Leather, 773 F.3d at 562 (holding that personal
jurisdiction was proper where the parties corresponded regularly
via email over the course of two years). Defendants analogize
this case to Consulting Engineers Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561
F.3d 273 (4th Cir. 2009), and argue that the emails here are
“sporadic” and “not sufficient to allow the courts to exercise
personal jurisdiction.” (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 7.) In
Consulting Eng’rs Corp., the parties exchanged four brief
emails, several telephone conversations, and exchanged draft
non-disclosure agreements. 561 F.3d at 281-82. The Fourth
Circuit declined to assert personal jurisdiction because the
defendant’s contacts with the forum were “too attenuated.” Id.
at 282 (holding that where the defendant did not have any
property, employees, or business in the forum state, the
defendant’s employees had not traveled to the forum state, and
the defendant did not initiate contact with the plaintiff,
personal jurisdiction was inappropriate).
However, this case is distinguishable from Consulting
Eng’rs Corp. Here, Defendants emailed and texted Plaintiffs
regularly throughout the summer and fall 2019 to persuade
Plaintiffs to pay Defendants. (Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶ 45.) These
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messages were not sporadic, but rather all contained similar
accusations that Plaintiffs defrauded Defendants and owed money
to Defendants. (See id. ¶¶ 29-40, 45-53.) The Complaint
demonstrates Defendants engaged in a pattern of communications
to Plaintiffs for the purpose of exerting pressure regarding
payment. Defendants also sent messages to Plaintiffs that led
Plaintiffs to believe that Defendants had traveled to North
Carolina on at least one occasion as part of Defendants’ plan to
receive payment from Plaintiffs. (Id. ¶ 52.) This is especially
notable because “whether the defendant made in-person contact
with the resident of the forum in the forum state regarding the
business relationship” is an important factor for determining
personal jurisdiction. Consulting Eng’rs Corp., 561 F.3d at 278.
Although Plaintiffs do not allege that Defendants actually made
in-person contact, the facts alleged in the Complaint give rise
to a reasonable inference that it was Defendants’ intention to
make Plaintiffs believe Defendants were in North Carolina on
their way to Plaintiffs to pressure Plaintiffs into paying
Defendants. (See Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶¶ 21, 54.) Therefore, this
court finds Defendants purposefully availed themselves of North
Carolina through their emails and text messages to Plaintiffs.
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Finally, the police report also supports asserting specific
jurisdiction over Defendants. Plaintiffs argue that by filing
the police report seeking “involvement of local North Carolina
law enforcement and/or government officials, . . . Defendants
are primary participants in an alleged wrongdoing intentionally
directed at a North Carolina resident.” (Doc. 16 at 7 (quoting
Calder, 465 U.S. at 790 (internal quotation marks and brackets
omitted).) On the other hand, Defendants compare their actions
to sending a “single email to someone located in North
Carolina,” (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 8). However, even a single
contact may be sufficient to assert specific jurisdiction,
“provided that the principle of ‘fair play and substantial
justice’ is not thereby offended.” Carefirst, 334 F.3d at 397
(citing Burger King Corp., 471 U.S. at 477-78).
Another court in this district has previously addressed
whether reporting a plaintiff to the forum’s law enforcement
authorities can form the basis of specific jurisdiction. In
Lostutter, the plaintiff alleged in support of its libel claim
that the defendants “encouraged online readers to contact North
Carolina authorities to have [the plaintiff] investigated.”
Lostutter, 2017 WL 3669557, at *9. The district court
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subsequently found specific jurisdiction was appropriate. Id.
Here, Defendants went a step further than the defendants in
Lostutter by actually reporting Plaintiffs to North Carolina
police. (Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶ 23.) Moreover, even if the police
report on its own does not support asserting specific
jurisdiction, the combination of the police report with
Defendants’ other actions described supra support this court’s
finding that Defendants have purposefully availed themselves of
North Carolina. Defendants argue that if this court finds the
police report serves as a basis for personal jurisdiction, the
Complaint against Defendant Guerra should be dismissed because
only Defendant Hanke was involved in the filing of the police
report. (Doc. 17 at 1.) However, Defendant Guerra was involved
in creating the websites and authoring the posts, along with
sending emails and text messages to Plaintiffs. (See Compl.
(Doc. 9) ¶¶ 32-34, 38-41, 46-53.) Thus, even if Defendant Guerra
was not involved in filing the police report, he purposefully
availed himself of North Carolina through his electronic
activity directed at North Carolina. Accordingly, this c ourt
finds Defendants purposefully availed themselves of North
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Claims Arising out of Activities Directed at the
“The second prong of the test for specific jurisdiction —
that the plaintiff’s claims arise out of the activities directed
at the forum — requires that the defendant’s contacts with the
forum state form the basis of the suit.” Consulting Eng’rs
Corp., 561 F.3d at 278-79 (citing Burger King Corp., 471 U.S. at
472; Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S.
408, 414 (1984)). For specific jurisdiction to apply, there must
be “an affiliation between the forum and the underlying
controversy, principally, [an] activity or an occurrence that
takes place in the forum State and is therefore subject to the
State’s regulation.” Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919 (internal
quotation marks and brackets omitted).
Defendants concede the Complaint alleges communication with
the Lillies and the Kannapolis Police Department, but Defendants
contend they did not target North Carolina or direc t their
activities at North Carolina residents. (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at
8-9.) However, Plaintiffs’ claims arise out of Defendants’
conduct toward North Carolina. Plaintiffs’ libel claim and
invasion of privacy claim are based on Defendants’ creation of
websites and publication of statements concerning Plaintiffs’
business. (See Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶¶ 58-76.) Further, Plaintiffs’
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other claims are based on Defendants’ email and text message
communications with the Lillies and the police report, in
addition to the websites and publications on those websites.
(See id. ¶¶ 77-96.) Thus, assuming the truth of Plaintiffs’
allegations at this stage of the proceedings, Plaintiffs have
alleged sufficient facts showing Plaintiffs’ claims arise out of
Defendants’ conduct in North Carolina. See Helicopteros
Nacionales de Colombia, 466 U.S. at 414 (“When a controversy is
related to or ‘arises out of’ a defendant’s contacts with the
forum, the Court has said that a ‘relationship among the
defendant, the forum, and the litigation’ is the essential
foundation of in personam jurisdiction.”) (quoting Shaffer v.
Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977)).
Lastly, specific jurisdiction must be constitutionally
reasonable. Courts consider various factors to determine whether
specific jurisdiction is constitutionally reasonable, including:
(1) the burden on the defendant of litigating in the
forum; (2) the interest of the forum state in
adjudicating the dispute; (3) the plaintiff’s interest
in obtaining convenient and effective relief; (4) the
shared interest of the states in obtaining efficient
resolution of disputes; and (5) the interests of the
states in furthering substantive social policies.
Consulting Eng’rs Corp., 561 F.3d at 279 (citations omitted).
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 18 of 21
Defendants argue that each of these factors weighs against
this court exercising jurisdiction. (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 9.)
This court will consider each factor in turn.
First, Defendants argue they are burdened by litigating in
North Carolina because they reside in Illinois and Florida.
(Id.) Although it may be less burdensome for the litigation to
occur in one of Defendants’ states of residence, litigating in
North Carolina must be “‘so gravely difficult and inconvenient’
that [the defendant] unfairly is at a ‘severe disadvantage’ in
comparison to his opponent.” Burger King Corp., 471 U.S. at 478
(quoting M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off–Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 18
(1972); McGee v. Int’l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223 (1957)).
This court finds no such severe disadvantage here.
Second, Defendants argue that because Defendants are not
residents of North Carolina, and two Plaintiffs are businesses
formed in Iowa, North Carolina does not have an interest in
adjudicating the dispute. (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 9.) This is
not true. The Lillies live in North Carolina, and the three
business-Plaintiffs’ principal places of business are in North
Carolina. (Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶¶ 1-4.) Thus, North Carolina has a
significant interest in adjudicating this dispute.
Third, Defendants argue that because the businessPlaintiffs are sophisticated parties, Plaintiffs’ interest in
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obtaining relief is less important. (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at
10.) As mentioned, all Plaintiffs are either residents of North
Carolina or have their principal place of business in North
Carolina. (Compl. (Doc. 9) ¶¶ 1-4.) Thus, litigating in North
Carolina will bring Plaintiffs “convenient and effective
relief,” Consulting Eng’rs Corp., 561 F.3d at 279 (citations
omitted), since this litigation is brought in Plaintiffs’ state
Fourth, Defendants argue that Iowa, Florida, or Illinois
would have a greater interest than North Carolina in
adjudicating the dispute. (Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 10.)
Defendants offer no further explanation of why those states
would have greater interests. On the facts alleged presently,
North Carolina has a significant interest in adjudicating this
dispute, as Defendants’ actions as alleged in the Complaint
targeted North Carolina residents, allegedly causing damage to
individuals and businesses which are citizens of North Carolina.
(See generally Compl. (Doc. 9).)
Finally, Defendants argue there is no substantive policy of
North Carolina which would be furthered by this litigation.
(Defs.’ Br. (Doc. 14) at 10.) Regardless of whether North
Carolina policy would be furthered by this litigation, this
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 20 of 21
factor does not change the result: asserting personal
jurisdiction over Defendants is constitutionally reasonable.
In sum, Defendants failed to show how asserting specific
personal jurisdiction would be constitutionally unreasonable.
Therefore, this court will find that Defendants are subject to
specific personal jurisdiction in North Carolina.
For the reasons set forth above, this court finds that
Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction,
(Doc. 13), will be DENIED.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion, (Doc. 13),
This the 9th day of September, 2021.
United States District Judge
Case 1:20-cv-00905-WO-LPA Document 22 Filed 09/09/21 Page 21 of 21
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