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Edgin v. Shah

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division

November 29, 2017




         The following Proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to Chief United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.


         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Fred Edgin filed a pro se complaint on October 7, 2015, and an amended complaint on November 17, 2015, naming Dr. Shah as a defendant, among others. See Doc. Nos. 2 & 6. The other defendants have since been dismissed. See Doc. Nos. 58, 69, 83 & 93. As to Dr. Shah, Edgin alleges constitutional violations based on medical treatment provided by Dr. Shah at the Bowie County Correctional Center (“BCCC”) in Texarkana, Texas.[2] According to the docket sheet for this case, the United States Marshal served Defendant Dr. Shah via certified mail on December 21, 2015. See Doc. No. 20. Because Dr. Shah did not timely file an answer or any other responsive pleading, this Court entered an Order to Show Cause, directing the U.S. Marshal to serve Dr. Shah at the BCCC (Doc. No. 85). The U.S. Marshal returned the summons unexecuted with an explanation that Dr. Shah does not work at the BCCC. See Doc. No. 86. The Court then attempted service of an Order to Show Cause at Dr. Shah's professional office giving Dr. Shah fourteen days to file a response explaining why the Clerk should not enter default against him pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). See Doc. No. 87. The Order to Show Cause was successfully served, and Dr. Shah filed a response and a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient service, and failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (Doc. No. 90). Plaintiff subsequently filed a response to Dr. Shah's motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 93). Because the Court agrees that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Dr. Shah, it does not reach Dr. Shah's other arguments.

         II. Legal Standard

         Dr. Shah moves to dismiss Edgin's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). “[T]he party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case.” Steinbuch v. Cutler, 518 F.3d 580, 585 (8th Cir. 2008). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has described the applicable burden of proof as follows:

To survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff “must state sufficient facts in the complaint to support a reasonable inference that [the defendants] can be subjected to jurisdiction within the state. Once jurisdiction ha[s] been controverted or denied, [the plaintiff] ha[s] the burden of proving such facts.” Block Indus. v. DHJ Indus., Inc., 495 F.2d 256, 259 (8th Cir. 1974) (internal citation omitted). The plaintiff's “‘prima facie showing' must be tested, not by the pleadings alone, but by the affidavits and exhibits presented with the motions and in opposition thereto.” Id. at 260.

Dever v. Hentzen Coatings, Inc., 380 F.3d 1070, 1072 (8th Cir. 2004).

         “A federal court may exercise jurisdiction ‘over a foreign defendant only to the extent permitted by the forum state's long-arm statute and by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.'” Cutler, 518 F.3d at 585 (quoting Dakota Indus., Inc. v. Ever Best Ltd., 28 F.3d 910, 915 (8th Cir. 1994)). Because Arkansas's long-arm statute confers jurisdiction to the fullest constitutional extent, the Court need only examine whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction in this case comports with due process. Id.

Due process requires “minimum contacts” between a non-resident defendant and the forum state such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291-92, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980). The minimum contact inquiry focuses on whether the defendant purposely availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum state and thereby invoked the benefits and protections of its laws.
The Supreme Court has recognized two theories for evaluating personal jurisdiction: general and specific jurisdiction. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-15, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984). A state may exercise general jurisdiction if a defendant has carried on in the forum state a continuous and systematic, even if limited, part of its general business; in such circumstances the alleged injury need not have any connection with the forum state. Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 779, 104 S.Ct. 1473, 79 L.Ed.2d 790 (1984). The plaintiff must make a prima facie showing, however, that the defendant's contacts were not “random, ” “fortuitous, ” or “attenuated.” Id. at 774, 104 S.Ct. 1473. Specific jurisdiction on the other hand is appropriate only if the injury giving rise to the lawsuit occurred within or had some connection to the forum state, meaning that the defendant purposely directed its activities at the forum state and the claim arose out of or relates to those activities. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985).

Id. at 585-86.

         The Eighth Circuit has instructed courts to consider the following factors when resolving a personal jurisdiction inquiry, affording the first three primary importance: “1) the nature and quality of the defendant's contacts with the forum state; 2) the quantity of such contacts; 3) the relation of the cause of action to the contacts; 4) the interests of the ...

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