United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
MARSHALL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
and Rebecca Martinez have sued Cincinnati Incorporated and
Martin Machine & Tool, Inc. They say Cincinnati
manufactured, and Martin distributed, a defective and
unreasonably dangerous press brake that injured Quinton on
the job at American Sports Medical Industries. Martin, which
is based in Tennessee and sold this used press brake to
American there, moves to dismiss for want of personal
jurisdiction. Martin has asked for an evidentiary hearing,
but the press of other business hasn't allowed this Court
to hold one. The question presented is whether, taking the
affidavits and other evidentiary materials in the light most
favorable to Martinez, [*] and resolving disputed facts in
Martinez's favor, he has made a prima facie
showing on personal jurisdiction. Dakota Industries, Inc.
v. Dakota Sportswear, Inc., 946 F.2d 1384, 1387 (8th
Cir. 1991); Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. v. Bassett
& Walker International, Inc., 702 F.3d 472, 474-75
(8th Cir. 2012). Arkansas law extends jurisdiction as far as
the Due Process Clause allows. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-4-101
(B). Is it consistent with due process-fair and reasonable -
to make Martin defend this machine in Arkansas?
Viasystems Inc. v. EBM-Papst St. Georgen GmbH & Co.,
KG, 646 F.3d 589, 594 (8th Cir. 2011).
Jurisdiction? Martinez argues that Martin's marketing,
sales, and service create continuous, systematic, and
substantial contacts with Arkansas; Martinez is saying that,
in the Supreme Court's phrase, Martin is essentially at
home here. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011). The Court disagrees.
The company is rooted in Tennessee. It doesn't advertise
or attend trade shows in Arkansas. It doesn't sell
products in Arkansas. It doesn't solicit business in
Arkansas. Martin has a website, which of course reaches
Arkansawyers and anyone else with an internet connection.
This website, though, is passive; it provides information but
no way to order things. That's insufficient under
precedent. Lakin v. Prudential Securities, Inc., 348
F.3d 704, 711 (8th Cir. 2003). In the last twenty-seven
years, Martin has made nine sales in Tennessee to people and
companies with an Arkansas address. The sum of all this is
not the continuous and systematic presence that creates
general jurisdiction in Arkansas.
Jurisdiction? This issue is closer - particularly because of
some uncertainty around telephone calls and correspondence
leading up to the sale. Some things are clear. American (in
Arkansas) reached out to Martin (in Tennessee) about buying
the used press brake. All material parts of the transaction
occurred in Tennessee. Delivery was not part of the deal. No
Martin employee brought the press brake to Arkansas or
shipped this machine to Arkansas; American had it shipped
here. Compare, Papachristou v. Turbines, Inc., 902
F.2d 685, 686 (8th Cir. 1990). And the money changed hands in
person in Tennessee.
response to the distance created between Martin and Arkansas
by all those facts, Martinez emphasizes some pre-sale
communications, which are documented in a post-suit letter,
and a statement by one of Martin's officers in a
post-suit affidavit. Interstate communications may show a
non-resident purposefully availing himself of a forum. Or
they may not. It depends on what's said and done in these
communications. Compare Aaron Ferer & Sons Co. v.
Atlas Scrap Iron and Metal Co., 558 F.2d 450, 455 (8th
Cir. 1977), with Wells Dairy, Inc. v. Food Movers
International, Inc., 607 F.3d 515, 520 (8th Cir. 2010).
Greg Davidson, Martin's president, said this:
"American Sports Medical [Industries] was advised
several times in writing prior to the purchase of the press
(through the general manager and purchasing agent Jim Shaw)
[:] That this equipment was purchased: 'as is, '
'as shown' unless otherwise specified in
writing." No 38-1. The reasonable inference is that
Martin corresponded with American, an Arkansas-based company,
about the potential sale. But, without more, this kind of
interstate communication is not enough to support
jurisdiction. E.g., Mountaire Feeds, Inc. v. Agro Implex,
S.A., 677 F.2d 651, 656 (8th Cir. 1982). Next, the
affidavit. Spy dell Davidson, Martin's vice president,
testified that "We are a Tennessee corporation and only
do business in Arkansas if a potential buyer seeks our
assistance." No 3-3. That's an admission,
Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2), but loose words go only so far.
Consider the context. This affidavit accompanied Martin's
first responding papers, filed pro se, papers that
included a challenge to personal jurisdiction. With a
lawyer's help, Martin has now filled the record with
details about how and where the company does its business.
Martinez hasn't really challenged or supplemented that
showing, and Spydell Davidson's characterization
can't change the facts.
Court has weighed all five material considerations.
Viasystems, Inc., 646 F.3d at 594; Aly v.
Hanzada For Import & Export Company, Ltd., 2017 WL
1089542 at *3 (8th Cir. 6 May 2017). It would be both unfair
and unreasonable, contrary to due process, to make Martin
defend this case here because its connections with Arkansas
in the sale of this machine to American were so thin.
No 33, granted. The claims against Martin Machine & Tool
Inc. are dismissed without prejudice for lack of personal
Court will use the singular to refer to both