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Howard Industries, Inc. v. Ferguson Electric Construction Co., Inc.

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

July 15, 2015

HOWARD INDUSTRIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
FERGUSON ELECTRIC CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KEITH STARRETT, District Judge.

For the reasons below, the Court grants Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 2].

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant Ferguson Electric Construction Co., Inc. ("Ferguson"), a New York corporation, "sought to purchase electric transformers for a construction project in Buffalo, New York." Angelo Veanes Aff., ECF No. 2-2 Ex. B. "To that end, Ferguson contacted HC Zang Agency, Inc., ("HC Zang"), a New York corporation." Id. HC Zang conducted negotiations with Plaintiff Howard Industries, Inc., ("Howard"), a Mississippi corporation. See Id. Subsequent to those negotiations, Ferguson entered into a contract for sale to purchase electric transformers from Howard. See Invoice, ECF No. 1-2 Ex. A; Compl., ECF No. 1-2. Howard then delivered the transformers to Ferguson in New York. See ECF No. 1-2. The remaining balance owed by Ferguson is $72, 928.00. See John Reid Aff., ECF No. 1-2 Ex. A. Howard demanded payment from Ferguson, but Ferguson refused to pay. See Compl., ECF No. 1-2.

Howard filed this suit in the County Court of the First Judicial District of Jones County, Mississippi. Id. Howard seeks the remaining balance owed on the invoice, plus interest and fees. Id. On April 2, 2015, Ferguson removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1446. See Notice of Removal, ECF No.

1. Ferguson then filed its Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2). See Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 2.

II. DISCUSSION

"A federal court sitting in diversity may exercise personal jurisdiction only to the extent permitted [in] a state court under state law." Paz v. Brush Engineered Materials, Inc., 445 F.3d 809, 812 (5th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). "The court may only exercise jurisdiction if: (1) the state's long-arm statute applies, as interpreted by the state's courts, and (2) if due process is satisfied under the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution." Id. (citing Alfred v. Moore & Peterson, 117 F.3d 278 (5th Cir. 1997)). "When a nonresident defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the district court's jurisdiction over the nonresident.... A plaintiff satisfies this burden by presenting a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction." Unified Brands, Inc. v. Teders, 866 F.Supp.2d 572, 577 (S.D.Miss. 2012) (citations omitted). "The district court is not obligated to consult only the assertions in the plaintiff's complaint.... Rather, the district court may consider the contents of the record at the time of the motion, including affidavits...." Paz, 445 F.3d at 812 (citations omitted). But "uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint must be accepted as true, and all disputed facts must be construed in the plaintiff's favor." Blacklidge Emulsions, Inc. v. Blankenship, No. 1:13-CV-293, 2013 WL 6492876, at *1 (S.D.Miss. Dec. 10, 2013) (citations omitted).

A. Long-Arm Statute

"Mississippi's long-arm statute provides the courts shall have jurisdiction over a nonresident who: (1) makes a contract with a resident of this state to be performed in whole or in part by any party in this state, (2) commits a tort in whole or in part in this state against a resident or nonresident, or (3) does any business or performs any character of work or service in this state." Smith v. Antler Insanity, LLC, 58 F.Supp. 3d 716, 720 (S.D.Miss. 2014) (citing Miss. Code Ann. § 13-3-57 (1991)) (punctuation omitted). Here, Ferguson admits "it was subject to the "contract" prong of the [Mississippi] Long-Arm Statute because the contract at issue was to be performed in part by a Mississippi resident in Mississippi." Def.'s Reply, ECF No. 13 (citing Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 2).

B. Due Process

Next, the Court considers
whether the exercise of such jurisdiction under state law would comport with the dictates of the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. This Clause permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant when (1) that defendant has purposefully availed himself of the benefits and protections of the forum state by establishing minimum contacts with the forum state; and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction over that defendant does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
Minimum contacts, for the purpose of satisfying due process, can be established either through contacts sufficient to assert specific jurisdiction, or contacts ...

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