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Antoon v. Securus Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

May 15, 2017




         Currently before the Court are Defendant Securus Technologies, Inc.'s ("Securus") Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Strike Class Allegations (Doc. 30) and Memorandum in Support (Doc. 30-1), Plaintiffs Patrick Antoon, Jr.'s, Shalin Miller's, and Sharon Velazquez's Response in Opposition (Doc. 35), and Securus's Reply in Support (Doc. 38). Also currently before the Court are Securus's Motion for Stay of Discovery (Doc. 39) and Memorandum in Support (Doc. 39-1), Plaintiffs' Opposition (Doc. 47), and Securus's Reply in Support (Doc. 49). For the reasons given below, Securus's Motion to Dismiss and Strike is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, and Securus's Motion for Stay is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit is a putative class action. Securus provides inmate telephone calling services ("ICS") at correctional facilities throughout the United States. Plaintiff Antoon is an Arkansas citizen who has been incarcerated in Arkansas since March 2014. Plaintiff Miller is a resident of Georgia with loved ones who were incarcerated in Georgia from January 2015 to September 2015 and from June 2016 through October 2016. Plaintiff Velazquez is a resident of Missouri and former resident of Illinois, with a family member who was incarcerated in Illinois from roughly mid-2005 to 2015. Plaintiffs bring claims for unjust enrichment against Securus under the common law of Arkansas, Georgia, and Illinois, respectively. Plaintiffs also bring claims, respectively, against Securus under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("ADTPA"), the Georgia Fair Business Practice Act ("GFBPA"), and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act ("ICFDBPA").

         Plaintiffs all allege that Securus obtained exclusive contracts with correctional facilities to provide ICS, and then exploited those exclusive contracts by charging Plaintiffs exorbitant rates and fees for ICS. Importantly, Plaintiffs in this case are only challenging rates and fees pertaining to intrastate calls. A companion case that has been pending in this Court since August 2014 deals exclusively with interstate calls.

         The initial complaint in the instant case was filed on January 9, 2017. That complaint was superseded by an amended complaint on February 16. Securus filed its Motion to Dismiss and to Strike Class Allegations (Doc. 30) on March 6, and its Motion to Stay Discovery on April 12. Both motions have been fully briefed and are now ripe for decision.


         In their briefing on these motions, the parties have extensively discussed a wide variety of issues. For reasons of efficiency and logical priority, this Opinion and Order does not address those issues is the same sequence they were addressed by the parties. Furthermore, this Opinion and Order does not reach all of the issues raised by the parties, because many of those issues are mooted by this Court's ruling infra on the issue of personal jurisdiction.

         The Court begins its analysis with a discussion of whether it may exercise personal jurisdiction with respect to the claims brought by Plaintiffs Miller and Velazquez. Concluding that it may not, it then turns to the various issues implicated by Plaintiff Antoon's claims. Finally, after resolving those issues, this Opinion and Order takes up Securus's Motion to Stay.

         A. Personal jurisdiction with respect to Plaintiffs Miller and Velazquez

         Securus does not dispute that this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over it with respect to Plaintiff Antoon's claims, which concern facts alleged to have occurred within the state of Arkansas. However, Securus contends that this Court may not exercise personal jurisdiction over it with respect to the claims brought by Plaintiffs Miller and Velazquez.

         1. Legal standard

         "To allege personal jurisdiction, 'a plaintiff must state sufficient facts in the complaint to support a reasonable inference that the defendant can be subjected to jurisdiction within the state.'" Wells Dairy, Inc. v. Food Movers Int'l, 607 F.3d 515, 518 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Dever v. Hentzen Coatings, Inc., 380 F.3d 1070, 1072 (8th Cir. 2004)) (alteration omitted). The Court "must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and resolve all factual conflicts in the plaintiffs favor." Digi-Tel Holdings, Inc. v. Proteq Telecomm. (PTE), Ltd., 89 F.3d 519, 522 (8th Cir. 1996). However, the plaintiff in question bears the burden of proving sufficient facts to support a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction. Wells Dairy, 607 F.3d at 518. "The plaintiffs prima facie showing must be tested, not by the pleadings alone, but by the affidavits and exhibits presented with the motions and opposition thereto." Id.

         The Arkansas long-arm statute authorizes the exercise of personal jurisdiction "to the maximum extent permitted by the due process of law clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution." Ark. Code Ann. § 16-4-101. Therefore, the only question here is whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Securus is constitutionally permissible. The Due Process Clause allows courts to exercise personal jurisdiction only when a defendant has "certain minimum contacts" with the forum state "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). This standard "presaged the development of two categories of personal jurisdiction": general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014).

         General jurisdiction allows a court to hear "any and all claims" against a defendant. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851 (2011). In the case of a defendant corporation, the Due Process Clause permits a court to exercise general jurisdiction only when the defendant's "affiliations with the State are so continuous and systematic as to render them essentially at home in the forum State." Id. (quotation omitted). "The place of incorporation and principal place of business" are the "paradigm bases for general jurisdiction" over a corporation. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 760 (alteration and quotation omitted).

         "Specific jurisdiction, on the other hand, depends on an affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, principally, activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State and is therefore subject to the State's regulation." Goodyear, 131 S.Ct. at 2851 (alteration and quotation omitted). Its exercise is "confined to adjudication of issues deriving from, or connected with, the very controversy that establishes jurisdiction." Id. (quotation omitted). "The inquiry whether a forum State may assert specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant 'focuses on the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the ...

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