United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
WILLIE TRAYLOR, JR. PLAINTIFF
TRINITY RIVER ENERGY DEFENDANT
O. Hickey United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Trinity River Energy's Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for Lack of Personal
Jurisdiction and for Failure to State a Claim. (ECF No. 11).
Plaintiff Willie Traylor, Jr. has not responded to the
motion, and the time to do so has passed. The Court finds the
matter ripe for consideration.
January 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed this action regarding a
654.108 acre tract called the LCV RA SUG Unit (“the
Property”), located in Quitman, Louisiana. Plaintiff
alleges that his mother “had a working interest (owner)
relationship” in the minerals and gas under the
Propertywith the entities who had drilling rights
to the Property. Plaintiff states that his mother died in
2013, and that he discovered in January 2014 that he was an
heir to his mother. Plaintiff states that Defendant received
the drilling rights to the Property on March 1, 2015.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “has systematically
and discriminatorily refused and failed to pay Plaintiff the
full royalties due and owing and without the consent of the
new heir(s) of the wells/land.” (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff
alleges further that Defendant denied him an opportunity to
enter into negotiations, agreements, or contracts.
asserts multiple claims against Defendant, including denial
of contract; fraud; conversion; breach of the implied
covenant of good faith and fair dealing; discrimination;
unjust enrichment; and a claim under the Texas Deceptive
Trade Practices Act. Plaintiff also requests a declaratory
judgment that Defendant acted contrary to law; asserts that
he is entitled to a security interest and statutory lien in
oil and gas production and in the identifiable proceeds of
that production; and demands that an accounting take place
regarding Defendant's monthly production volumes of gas
and the royalty payments made to Plaintiff's mother.
March 30, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion, arguing
that Plaintiff's case should be dismissed for lack of
personal jurisdiction, or in the alternative, that
Plaintiff's case should be dismissed for failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff did not
respond to the motion, and his time to respond expired on
April 13, 2017.
April 25, 2017, the Court entered a Show Cause Order, giving
Plaintiff fourteen days to either show cause why he had not
responded to Defendant's motion to dismiss, or to respond
to the motion. (ECF No. 15). The Show Cause Order warned
Plaintiff that failure to respond could result in the Court
granting Defendant's motion and dismissing this case. As
of the date of this Order, Plaintiff has not responded to
Defendant's motion or otherwise responded to the
Court's Show Cause Order.
argues that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's case
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) because
the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendant.
Defendant argues in the alternative that the Court should
dismiss Plaintiff's case pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)
because Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Plaintiff offers no response to either
argument. The Court will first examine Defendant's Rule
12(b)(2) argument, and if necessary, the Court will then take
up Defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) argument.
argues that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's case
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) because the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over Defendant.
12(b)(2) provides that a party may move to dismiss claims for
lack of jurisdiction over the person. To defeat a motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must
make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Bell
Paper Box, Inc. v. U.S. Kids, Inc., 22 F.3d 816, 818
(8th Cir. 1994). This prima facie showing must be
tested, not by the complaint alone, but “by the
affidavits and exhibits presented with the [motion to
dismiss] and in opposition thereto.” Block Indus.
v. DHJ Indus., Inc., 495 F.2d 256, 260 (8th Cir. 1974).
If a court does not hold a hearing on personal jurisdiction
and instead bases its determination on the parties'
written submissions, the court must view the facts in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Dakota
Indus., Inc. v. Dakota Sportswear, Inc., 946 F.2d 1384,
1387 (8th Cir. 1991). When conclusory allegations in a
complaint are contested and a plaintiff supplies no factual
foundation, the complaint's conclusory allegations are
insufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant. See Dever v. Hentzen Coatings,
Inc., 380 F.3d 1070, 1072-73 (8th Cir. 2004). While
Plaintiff ultimately bears the burden of proof on the issue,
personal jurisdiction does not have to be proven by a
preponderance of the evidence until trial or an evidentiary
hearing. See Dakota Indus., Inc., 946 F.2d at 1387.
argues that there is no basis for personal jurisdiction in
this case because it does not conduct any operations or
business in Arkansas and has no place of business, mailing
address, bank accounts, personal property, or real property
in Arkansas. Defendant argues further that there is no
connection between Defendant and Arkansas, as the Property at
issue is located in Louisiana.
federal court sitting in diversity may assume jurisdiction
over a nonresident defendant to the extent permitted by the
forum state's long-arm statute. Arkansas's long-arm
statute provides that: “[t]he courts of this state
shall have personal jurisdiction of all persons, and all
causes of action or claims for relief, to the maximum extent
permitted by the due process of law ...