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Industrial & Crane Services, Inc. v. Crane & Rig Services, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

November 18, 2014

INDUSTRIAL & CRANE SERVICES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CRANE & RIG SERVICES, LLC, DAVIS MOTOR CRANE SERVICES, INC., and CHRISTOPHER B. ANDERSON. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT DAVIS MOTOR CRANE SERVICES, INC.'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION AND DISMISSING PLAINTIFF INDUSTRIAL & CRANE SERVICES, INC.'S CLAIMS AGAINST DAVIS MOTOR CRANE SERVICES, INC. WITHOUT PREJUDICE

HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant Davis Motor Crane Services, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss [6] for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff Industrial & Crane Services, Inc., has filed a Response [10], and Davis Motor Crane Services, Inc., has filed a Reply [11]. Having considered the parties' submissions, the record, and relevant legal authorities, the Court finds that the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction [6] should be granted, and Plaintiff Industrial & Crane Services, Inc.'s claims against Davis Motor Crane Services, Inc., should be dismissed without prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Industrial & Crane Services, Inc. ("Plaintiff"), is a Mississippi corporation which performs repairs and maintenance on industrial cranes at its principal place of business in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Compl. ¶ 2, Ex. "A" [1-2]. In May 2013, Plaintiff entered contract negotiations with Defendant Crane & Rig Services, LLC ("Crane & Rig"), a Pennsylvania limited liability company, and its owner, Christopher Anderson ("Anderson"), a resident of the State of Pennsylvania. Id. at ¶¶ 3, 5, 6-10. Crane & Rig sought to hire Plaintiff to work as a subcontractor on a project known as "Grove AT400XL Rebuild #1 (Unit 422)" ("the Project"), which involved repairs to a Grove model AT400XL crane ("the Grove Crane") owned by Defendant Davis Motor Crane Services, Inc. ("Davis Crane"), a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Texas. Id. at ¶ 10, Ex. "B" [1-2].

On or about May 31, 2013, Crane & Rig transported the Grove Crane from Texas to Plaintiff's yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Plaintiff began work on the Project as Crane & Rig's subcontractor. Id. at ¶ 10, Exs. "A, " "B, " and "C" [1-2]. A Crane & Rig employee remained at Plaintiff's yard throughout the Project and submitted weekly reports to Davis Crane. Id. at ¶¶ 15-16. Plaintiff completed its work on or about September 26, 2013, and Crane & Rig transported the Grove Crane back to Texas for a final inspection by Davis Crane. Id. at ¶¶ 23-25. On or about September 27, 2013, Davis Crane inspected the Grove Crane upon its delivery in Texas, and "noted issues related to the quality of work performed." Id. at ¶ 26. Plaintiff alleges that, as a result, it has yet to be paid in full by Crane & Rig for the repair work performed pursuant to the Project. Id. at ¶¶ 34-39.

Plaintiff filed its Complaint [1-2] on May 2, 2014, in the County Court of Jackson County, Mississippi. The Complaint advances claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment against Crane & Rig and Davis Crane. Id. at ¶¶ 33-40, 45-49. The Complaint also asserts a claim on open account against Crane & Rig and a fraud claim as to Anderson. Id. at ¶¶ 41-44, 50-53. Davis Crane removed the case to this Court on June 30, 2014, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Notice of Removal 1 [1].

Davis Crane now seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against it, reasoning that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Davis Crane. Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss 1-3 [7]. Davis Crane posits that neither Mississippi's long arm statute nor federal due process support the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Davis Crane. Id. at 6-11. Plaintiff responds that the Court has personal jurisdiction over Davis Crane because Davis Crane knew the Grove Crane would be transported to Mississippi to be repaired and because Davis Crane received various benefits from having the Grove Crane repaired in Mississippi. Resp. in Opp'n 6-9 [10].

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

"Where a court finds it lacks personal jurisdiction, it may dismiss the action pursuant to... [Rule] 12(b)(2)." Herman v. Cataphora, Inc., 730 F.3d 460, 466 (5th Cir. 2013). "[T]he party seeking to invoke the power of the court... bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction but is required to present only prima facie evidence." Pervasive Software, Inc. v. Lexware GmbH & Co. KG, 688 F.3d 214, 219 (5th Cir. 2012) (quotation omitted). "In determining whether a prima facie case exists, this Court must accept as true [a plaintiff's] uncontroverted allegations, and resolve in its favor all conflicts between the jurisdictional facts contained in the parties' affidavits and other documentation." Id. at 219-20. "In diversity cases under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant must comport with both federal constitutional due process requirements and the long-arm statute of the state in which the district court is located." Companion Prop. and Cas. Ins. Co. v. Palermo, 723 F.3d 557, 559 (5th Cir. 2013) (citing Paz v. Brush Engineered Materials, Inc., 445 F.3d 809, 812 (5th Cir. 2006)).

B. Mississippi's Long-Arm Statute

The Mississippi long-arm statute provides, in relevant part, as follows:

Any nonresident person, firm, general or limited partnership, or any foreign or other corporation not qualified under the Constitution and laws of this state as to doing business herein, who shall make a contract with a resident of this state to be performed in whole or in part by any party in this state, ... or who shall do any business or perform any character of work or service in this state, shall by such act or acts be deemed to be doing business in Mississippi and shall thereby be subjected to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state.

Miss. Code Ann. § 13-3-57. Mississippi courts interpret this portion of the statute as permitting the exercise of personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants who have (1) entered into a contract to be performed in Mississippi or (2) conducted business in Mississippi. Dunn v. Yager, 58 So.3d 1171, 1184 (Miss. 2011) (quoting Yatham v. Young, 912 So.2d 467, 469-70 (Miss. 2005)). If Davis Crane is amenable to jurisdiction under the Mississippi long-arm statute, it would ...


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