United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
personal injury action is before the Court on the
defendant's motion to dismiss. Doc. #4.
6, 2018, Martha Edwards filed a complaint in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of
Mississippi against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Doc. #1. In her
complaint, Edwards alleges that in July of 2015, she slipped
and fell on a puddle while shopping at a Wal-Mart store in
Helena, Arkansas, that she suffered injuries, and that the
injuries were due to the defendant's negligence.
Id. at 2-4.
August 6, 2018, the Clerk of the Court issued a notice
stating “that the court file does not show that a
summons has been served … ” on Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc. Doc. #2. Two days later, a summons was issued. Doc. #3.
On August 28, 2018, the defendant filed a motion seeking
dismissal for (1) lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2); (2) improper venue under
Rule 12(b)(3); (3) insufficient process under Rule 12(b)(4);
(4) insufficient service of process under Rule 12(b)(5); and
(5) under Rule 12(b)(7), failure to join a party as required
by Rule 19. Doc. #4. Edwards responded in opposition to the
motion to dismiss on September 25, 2018. Doc.
The defendant replied on October 3, 2018. Doc. #10.
October 10, 2018, this Court, noting that the case appeared
to involve events in a different state, issued an order to
show cause why this case should not be transferred to the
Eastern District of Arkansas. Doc. #11. Edwards timely
responded to the show cause order on October 17, 2018. Doc.
#12. On October 30, 2018, the defendant filed a supplement to
its motion to dismiss to address a service of process attempt
made after the motion to dismiss was filed. Doc. #15. Edwards
responded to the supplement on November 12, 2018. Doc. #17.
November 25, 2018, Edwards filed a motion to amend her
complaint to add Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P. and Walmart, Inc.
as defendants in this action. Doc. #18. In her motion,
Edwards argued that the additions are proper because (1)
Wal-Mart Stores East “may be the owner of the subject
store involved in this matter;” and (2) Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., the defendant, recently changed its legal name
to Walmart, Inc. Id. at 1. The defendant filed a
response stating it did not object to the requested amendment
but that because “Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. should be
dismissed from this matter, … WalMart, Inc. would be
an improper party.” Doc. #19 at 1. On December 4, 2018,
United States Magistrate Judge Roy Percy denied Edwards'
motion to amend because Edwards failed to submit a proposed
amended complaint, as required by this Court's Local
Rules. Doc. #20.
as here, a defendant raises the threshold defenses of
personal jurisdiction (or the related issues of sufficiency
and service of process) and venue, “[t]he question of
personal jurisdiction, which goes to the court's power to
exercise control over the parties, is typically decided in
advance of venue, which is primarily a matter of choosing a
convenient forum.” Leroy v. Great W. United
Corp., 443 U.S. 173, 180 (1979). However, “when
there is a sound prudential justification for doing so,
… a court may reverse the normal order of considering
personal jurisdiction and venue.” Id. When the
inappropriateness of venue is clear, there exists a sound
prudential justification for considering venue before
personal jurisdiction. See id. at 181 (“We
find it appropriate to pretermit the constitutional issue in
this case because it is so clear that venue was improper
either under § 27 of the 1934 Act or under §
1391(b) of the Judicial Code.”). While the Court is
unconvinced about the appropriateness of venue in this case
it concludes, for the reasons stated in Edwards' response
to the show cause order,  that such appropriateness is not so
clear as to reverse the preferred order of analysis.
Accordingly, the Court will first consider the
defendant's argument regarding personal jurisdiction.
personal jurisdiction inquiry requires a two-part analysis.
ITL Int'l, Inc. v. Constenla, S.A., 669 F.3d
493, 496 (5th Cir. 2012). First, the court must ask whether
the defendant is amenable to suit under the relevant
state's long-arm statute. Id. at 496-97. If the
long-arm statute is satisfied, the court must ask
“whether personal jurisdiction over th[e] dispute
comports with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment.” Id. at 497.
the Due Process clause, personal jurisdiction “may be
general or specific.” In re DePuy Orthopaedics,
Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Prod. Liab. Litig, 888 F.3d
753, 778 (5th Cir. 2018). General jurisdiction requires
“continuous and systematic forum contacts and allows
for jurisdiction over all claims against the defendant, no
matter their connection to the forum.” Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted). Specific jurisdiction, in
contrast, requires only that the defendant have
“purposefully direct[ed] his activities toward the
state” and that the plaintiff's claim “arises
out of or is related to the defendant's forum
contacts.” Id. (internal quotation marks and
defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction
under Rule 12(b)(2), the “plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing jurisdiction, but need only present prima
facie evidence.” Patterson v. Aker Sols.
Inc., 826 F.3d 231, 233 (5th Cir. 2016). To determine
whether a plaintiff has made a prima facie case, the court
“must accept the plaintiff's uncontroverted
allegations, and resolve in his favor all conflicts between
the facts contained in the parties' affidavits and other
documentation.” Id. (alteration omitted).
“[A]llegations in a … brief or legal memorandum
are insufficient, even under the relatively relaxed prima
facie standard, to establish jurisdictional facts.”
Barrett v. Lombardi, 239 F.3d 23, 27 (1st Cir.
initial memorandum brief, the defendant contends:
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has no responsibility or liability for
the allegations of Plaintiff in her Complaint because
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has no involvement, operation or
control over the subject premises where the Plaintiff's
slip and fall incident took place. In fact, the legal entity
that operated the subject department store in West Helena,
Arkansas, is Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P. That limited
partnership is found under the laws of the State of Delaware
with its principal place of business in the State of Arkansas
… Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is a Delaware corporation with