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Farmer v. D&O Contrs., Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

August 22, 2014

STEPHEN P. FARMER, et al., PLAINTIFFS
v.
D&O CONTRACTORS, INC., et al., DEFENDANTS

For Stephen P. Farmer, Farmer Enterprises, Inc., Robert L. Casey, Truck & Equipment Enterprises, Curt C. Causey, Cross Country Recycling, LLC, Plaintiffs: Hiram Eastland, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, EASTLAND LAW OFFICES, Greenwood, MS.

For D & O Contractors, inc., John Michael Mike O'Malley, Daniel P. Dan Wagner, Defendants: R. David Kaufman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Martin Patrick McDowell, BRUNINI, GRANTHAM, GROWER & HEWES, Jackson, MS.

For Lance Licciardi, Randy Nunez, Defendants: O. Stephen Montagnet, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, MCRANEY MONTAGNET, QUIN & NOBLE, PLLC, Ridgeland, MS.

For Jeff Difatta, Defendant: Carlos A. Zelaya, II, J. Wayne Mumphrey, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, MUMPHREY LAW FIRM, LLC, Slidell, LA; David Alexander Bowling, Susannah Cooley McKinney, LEAD ATTORNEYS, BOWLING & MCKINNEY, APLC, New Orleans, LA.

Page 794

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Debra M. Brown, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This action arises from allegations of civil racketeering violations involving Federal Emergency Management Agency (" FEMA" ) funded subcontracts for cleanup work in Saint Bernard Parish, Louisiana (" St. Bernard Parish" ), after the area was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Defendants have filed three separate motions to dismiss this case under Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and/or failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Defendants alternatively request that the case be transferred to the Eastern District of Louisiana because most of the alleged acts occurred in that judicial district and because all Defendants are residents of Louisiana. Plaintiffs responded in opposition to the motions, arguing that the case is properly before this Court and that the complaint contains sufficient facts to state a claim for relief. For the reasons below, the Court finds that it lacks personal jurisdiction over certain defendants and that, because personal jurisdiction and venue are proper in the Eastern District of Louisiana, the case should be transferred to that court.

I.

On August 29, 2005, St. Bernard Parish was struck by Hurricane Katrina. Flooding ensued and severely damaged the area. Following the hurricane, the United States Government provided funding through FEMA to St. Bernard Parish for disaster relief. In turn, St. Bernard Parish entered a demolition and debris removal contract with United Recovery Group, Inc. (" URG" ) to perform post-Katrina cleanup in the area. URG hired subcontractors, including Defendant D& O Contractors, Inc. (" D& O Contractors" ), to assist with the debris removal and other cleanup efforts. Compl. [1] at 14. D& O Contractors then hired Plaintiffs Stephen P.

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Farmer, Robert L. Casey, and Curt C. Causey to assist with the cleanup.

Plaintiff Stephen P. Farmer performed debris removal cleanup through his company, Plaintiff Farmer Enterprises, Inc. (collectively, " Plaintiff Farmer" ).[1] Plaintiff Robert L. Casey provided cleanup assistance through his company, Plaintiff Truck & Equipment Enterprises (collectively, " Plaintiff Casey" ). Plaintiff Curt C. Causey provided cleanup assistance through his company, Plaintiff Cross Country Recycling, LLC (collectively, " Plaintiff Causey" ). All Plaintiffs allege that after they began assisting with the post-Katrina cleanup in St. Bernard Parish, they were required to pay certain defendants part of their earnings as " protection" to ensure that they could continue doing cleanup work under the FEMA funded subcontracts. See Compl. [1] at 17-21.

Defendant D& O Contractors is a Louisiana corporation owned by Defendant John Michael " Mike" O'Malley. Defendant Daniel P. " Dan" Wagner is a former owner of D& O Contractors, and he allegedly served as a manager at D& O Contractors during all times relevant to this lawsuit. Defendants Lance Licciardi and Randy Nunez are law partners in Louisiana who allegedly conspired against and made extortionate demands to Plaintiffs for their post-Katrina cleanup earnings. Defendant Jeff Difatta is a Louisiana resident who also allegedly conspired against and made extortionate demands to Plaintiffs for their cleanup earnings.

On July 30, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in this Court alleging that Defendants engaged in civil violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (" RICO" ), 18 U.S.C. § § 1961-1968, and the Louisiana Racketeering Act (" LRA" ), La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:1353. Plaintiffs specifically allege that Defendants were parties to a RICO enterprise and that they engaged in a pattern of racketeering activities such as extortion, stealing property, conversion, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, Travel Act violations under 18 U.S.C. § 1952, and conspiracy. See Compl. [1] at 21-33. Plaintiffs seek actual damages, compensatory damages, treble damages, attorneys' fees, pre and post-judgment interest, and equitable relief. Id. at 33.

On August 26, 2013, Defendant Difatta filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and failure to state a claim. Mot. [12]. The same day, Defendants D& O Contractors, O'Malley, and Wagner filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction over O'Malley and Wagner, improper venue, and failure to state a claim. Mot. [14]. Defendants D& O Contractors, O'Malley, and Wagner alternatively move for transfer of venue to the Eastern District of Louisiana pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In support of their motions, Defendants Difatta, O'Malley, and Wagner submitted sworn affidavits attesting that they are resident citizens of Louisiana and have never resided in Mississippi. See Docs. [12-1].

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On August 27, 2013, Defendants Nunez and Licciardi filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer the case based on improper venue and failure to state a claim. Mot. [16]. All ...


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