United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
COGBURN JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the court on the defendant's
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and
Motion to Transfer (#6). Having considered the Motion and the
pleadings in this matter, the court enters the following
an ERISA case. Plaintiff Ravin was employed by the Tyndall
Federal Credit Union, and the court will label the defendants
collectively “Tyndall.” Tyndall is based in
Panama City, Florida with branches in other locations as
well. Ravin worked for Tyndall for over ten years in Florida.
After working for Tyndall, Ravin moved to North Carolina.
case relates to one filed in the Northern District of
Florida, which embraces Panama City, Tyndall Federal
Credit Union v. Ravin, 5:17-cv-160. It is the
understanding of the court that this related lawsuit is also
proceeding in that judicial district on the same facts as the
instant action. That case involves not only the benefits
under the ERISA plan which are at issue here, but also
involves allegations that Ravin's Separation Agreement
was procured through his allegedly fraudulent
misrepresentations. (#19) at 4.
instant Motion (#6), Tyndall asks the court to dismiss the
action filed in this district for a lack of personal
jurisdiction. In the alternative, Tyndall requests that the
court transfer the case to the Northern District of Florida
in the interest of justice. Id.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
12(b)(2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, provides for
dismissal where the court lacks personal jurisdiction over a
particular named defendant. In the Fourth Circuit, the
standard for deciding a motion based on Rule 12(b)(2) was set
forth in Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th
Cir. 1989), where it explained that a plaintiff has the
burden to prove personal jurisdiction by a preponderance of
factual dispute arises as to whether or not jurisdiction
exists, the court may either conduct an evidentiary hearing
or defer ruling on the matter until it receives evidence on
the jurisdictional issue at trial. Id. When a court
decides the issue on the record then before it, the court may
consider “the motion papers, supporting legal
memoranda, affidavits, other documents, and the relevant
allegations of the complaint, ” and the burden is
plaintiffs' “to make a mere prima facie
showing of jurisdiction to survive the jurisdictional
challenge.” Clark v. Milam, 830 F.Supp. 316,
319 (S.D.W.Va.1993) (citations omitted). A court must resolve
factual disputes in favor of the party asserting jurisdiction
for the limited purpose of the prima facie showing.
Bakker, at 676. Such resolution must include
construing all relevant pleadings in a light most favorable
to the plaintiff, assume the credibility of any affiant, and
must draw the most favorable inferences for the existence of
jurisdiction. Id.; see also Thomas v. Centennial
Commc'ns Corp., 2006 WL 6151153, at *2 (W.D. N.C.
Dec. 20, 2006).
must show that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a
defendant complies with the forum state's long-arm
statute and the constitutional requirements of due process.
Grober v. Mako Products, Inc., 686 F.3d 1335, 1345
(Fed. Cir. 2012), reh'g denied (Sept. 14, 2012).
Since North Carolina's long-arm statute extends
jurisdiction to the outer limits of due process, the
jurisdictional analysis merges into a single due process
inquiry. Thomas, 2006 WL 6151153, at *2.
consistent with the limitations of due process, a defendant
must have “minimum contacts” with the forum state
“such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend
traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.” International Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). Minimum contacts
may be established by showing “general” or
“specific” jurisdiction. Helicopteres
Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414
(1984). A court may exercise general jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant if the defendant has contacts with the
State that are so “continuous and systematic” as
to render them “essentially at home in the forum
State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851 (2011).
absence of general jurisdiction, a court may exercise
specific jurisdiction over the defendant where the cause of
action arises out of defendant's activities in the forum
state. In analyzing specific jurisdiction over a defendant,
courts consider whether: “(1) the defendant
purposefully directed its activities at residents of the
forum state, (2) the claim arises out of or relates to the
defendant's activities with the forum state, and (3)
assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and
fair.” Grober v. Mako Products, Inc., 686 F.3d
1335, 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). Plaintiff has
the burden of making a prima facie showing of specific
jurisdiction by satisfying the first two elements. The burden
then shifts to defendant to show that such assertion of
personal jurisdiction is not reasonable and fair.
Transfer of Venue
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides: “For the convenience
of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a
district court may transfer any civil action to any other
district or division where it might have been brought or to
any district or division to which all parties have
consented.” Id. Upon a motion to transfer, the
moving party carries a heavy burden. Datasouth Computer
Corp. v. Three Dimensional Technologies, Inc., 719
F.Supp. 446, 451 (W.D. N.C. 1989). A court's decision to
grant a motion to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a) is largely discretionary. 3A Composites USA, Inc.
v. United Indus., Inc., No. 5:13CV83-RLV, 2014 WL
1471075, at *1 (W.D. N.C. Apr. 15, 2014) (citing Landers
v. Dawson Const. Plant Ltd., 201 F.3d 436, 1999 WL
991419, *2 (4th Cir. 1999)). In exercising such discretion,
the court applies a balancing test and considers various
factors in deciding whether transfer is appropriate. Jim
Crockett Promotions, Inc. v. Action Media Grp., Inc.,
751 F.Supp. 93 (W.D. N.C. 1990). The factors to be considered
1. The plaintiff's initial choice of forum;
2. The residence of the parties;
3. The relative ease of access of proof;
4. The availability of compulsory process for attendance of
witnesses and the costs of obtaining attendance of willing
5. The possibility of a view by the jury;
6. The enforceability of a judgment, if ...