United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Carlton Tilley, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jayco, Inc.'s
(“Jayco”) Motion to Dismiss
(“Motion”) [Doc. #9] pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). For the reasons explained below,
Jayco's Motion will be denied.
is a Recreational Vehicle (“RV”) manufacturer
incorporated in Indiana with its principal place of business
there. (Compl. [Doc. #5] ¶ 4; Newcomer Aff. [Doc. #10-1]
¶ 3.) According to the Complaint, on May 16, 2015, Mr.
Hicks, a resident of King, North Carolina, purchased a Jayco
RV from Tennessee RV Sales and Service (“Tennessee
RV”) in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Compl. ¶¶ 2,
5, 6.) The RV came with a limited warranty from Jayco.
(Id. ¶¶ 7, 8.) Since he bought the RV, it
has been out of service for warranty repairs for over two
months. (Id. ¶ 18.) Mr. Hicks alleges that,
throughout this time, he has been in continuous contact with
both Tennessee RV and Jayco and that the RV continues to
suffer from defects and nonconformities. (Id.
¶¶ 19, 21.) Except for the final repair work done
at Bill Plemmons RV World,  Mr. Hicks took the RV to
Tennessee RV for all servicing. (Id. ¶¶
13-15.) Ultimately, on May 20, 2016, Jayco transported the RV
from Bill Plemmons RV World to its factory in Middlebury,
Indiana for repairs. (Id. ¶ 16.) On that
occasion, Jayco kept the RV for twenty-five days.
(Id.) However, according to the Complaint, despite
all repair attempts, the RV continued to experience a
multitude of problems. (Id. ¶ 17.)
result of these events, Mr. Hicks filed the present action
against Jayco asserting claims for (1) breach of implied
warranty of merchantability pursuant to North Carolina
General Statute § 25-2-314 and (2) breach of
express/implied warranty pursuant to the Magnuson-Moss
Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. (See
generally Compl.) In support of his first claim for
relief, Mr. Hicks alleges that Jayco “breached the
implied warranty of merchantability” because the RV was
“not in merchantable condition when sold or at any time
thereafter, was not fit for the ordinary purposes for which
such goods are used, and will not pass without objection in
the trade.” (Compl. ¶ 27.) In support of his
second claim for relief, Mr. Hicks asserts that he was
damaged by Jayco's failure to comply with its warranty of
the RV and is, therefore, “entitled to a refund of the
[RV's] purchase price” and other damages.
(Id. ¶ 39.) In response, Jayco moved to dismiss
the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Mot.
a defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, the plaintiff ultimately bears the burden of
proving to the district court judge the existence of
jurisdiction over the defendant by a preponderance of the
evidence, either at trial or at a pretrial evidentiary
hearing.” New Wellington Fin. Corp. v. Flagship
Resort Dev. Corp., 416 F.3d 290, n.5 (4th Cir. 2005)
(citing Prod. Grp. Int'l v. Goldman, 337
F.Supp.2d 788, n.2 (E.D. Va. 2004)). “But when . . .
the court addresses the question on the basis only of motion
papers, supporting legal memoranda and the relevant
allegations of a complaint, the burden on the plaintiff is
simply to make a prima facie showing of a sufficient
jurisdictional basis to survive the jurisdictional
challenge.” Id. at 294 (citing Combs v.
Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989), and In re
Celotex Corp., 124 F.3d 619, 628 (4th Cir. 1997)).
“Under such circumstances, courts ‘must construe
all relevant pleading allegations in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff, assume credibility, and draw the most
favorable inferences for the existence of
jurisdiction.'” Id. (quoting
Combs, 886 F.2d at 676). A plaintiff makes a
prima facie showing in this context when it
“present[s] evidence sufficient to defeat a motion for
judgment as a matter of law.” In re Polyester
Staple Antitrust Litig., No. 3:03CV1516, 2008 WL 906331,
at *7 (W.D. N.C. Apr. 1, 2008) (quoting Reese Bros., Inc.
v. U.S. Postal Serv., 477 F.Supp.2d 31, 36 (D.D.C.
2007)); see also Mattel, Inc. v. Greiner &
Hausser GmbH, 354 F.3d 857, 862 (9th Cir. 2003) cited in
Universal Leather, LLC v. Koro AR, S.A., 773 F.3d
553, 561 (4th Cir. 2014) (stating that a plaintiff makes a
prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction by
presenting facts that, if true, would support jurisdiction).
Stated another way, a plaintiff makes a prima facie
showing when there is evidence which, if true, a reasoning
mind could accept as sufficient to support the proposition in
4(k)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure confers
personal jurisdiction over any defendant who would be subject
to personal jurisdiction under the long-arm statute of the
state in which the district court sits. In order for a
district court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a
defendant pursuant to a state long-arm statute, (1) the forum
state's long-arm statute must authorize the exercise of
personal jurisdiction and (2) the defendant must have
sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state to satisfy
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Christian Sci. Bd. of Dirs. of the First Church of
Christ, Scientist v. Nolan, 259 F.3d 209, 215 (4th Cir.
2001). Because North Carolina's long-arm statute
“is designed to extend jurisdiction over nonresident
defendants to the fullest limits permitted by the Fourteenth
Amendment's due process clause, ” these inquiries
collapse into one. See ESAB Grp., Inc. v. Centricut,
Inc., 126 F.3d 617, 623 (4th Cir.1997). “Thus, the
court's focus becomes whether the plaintiff has made a
prima facie showing that the defendant's
contacts with North Carolina satisfy constitutional due
process.” JPB Installers, LLC v. Dancker, Sellew
& Douglas, Inc., No. 1:17CV292, 2017 WL 2881142, at
*2 (M.D. N.C. July 6, 2017) (internal citation omitted).
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310
(1945), the Supreme Court recognized that due process
authorizes a state to “exercise personal jurisdiction
over an out-of-state defendant if the defendant has
‘certain minimum contacts with [the State] such that
the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.'”
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564
U.S. 915, 923 (2011) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co.,
326 U.S. at 316) (internal quotations omitted) (alteration in
original); accord Daimler AG v. Bauman, U.S., 134
S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014). Two categories of personal
jurisdiction have developed from this principle:
“'general' (sometimes called
‘all-purpose') jurisdiction and
‘specific' (sometimes called
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Super. Ct. of Cal., S.F.
Cnty., U.S., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1780 (2017).
“Specific jurisdiction is confined to adjudication of
issues deriving from, or connected with, the very controversy
that establishes jurisdiction.” Id. (internal
quotations and citations omitted). In contrast, a court with
general jurisdiction may hear any claim against that
defendant, even if all the incidents underlying the claim
occurred in a different State.” Id.
there is no general jurisdiction over Jayco. Corporations are
subject to general jurisdiction in any state where
“their affiliations with the State are so
'continuous and systematic' as to render them
essentially at home in the forum State.”
Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919. A corporation's
“place of incorporation and principal place of business
are paradig[m] . . . bases for general jurisdiction.”
Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 760. It is the
“exceptional case” when a court exercises general
jurisdiction in a forum outside of those paradigm bases.
Id. at n.19. Jayco is an Indiana corporation with
its principal place of business and its manufacturing
facility in Middlebury, Indiana. (Newcomer Aff. [Doc. #11-1]
¶ 3.) Jayco is not incorporated in North Carolina nor
does it have its principal place of business here.
(Id. ¶¶ 4, 13.) It also has no employees
or agents in North Carolina. (Id.) As the Supreme
Court recognized in Daimler, a corporation cannot be
considered “at home” when it “operates in
many places” because it “can scarcely be deemed
at home in all of them.” 134 S.Ct. at 762 n.20.
Jayco's contacts with North Carolina are not “so
constant and pervasive as to render [Jayco] essentially at
home in the forum State.” Id. at 751 (internal
quotations and citation omitted). There is nothing before the
Court suggesting that Jayco is “at home” in North
Carolina nor that Jayco has “continuous and
systematic” contacts with North Carolina. Mr. Hicks has
not met his prima facie burden as to general
there is specific jurisdiction for one of the claims in this
cause of action. “[S]pecific jurisdiction is confined
to adjudication of issues deriving from, or connected with,
the very controversy that establishes jurisdiction.”
Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919 (internal marks and
citation omitted). For jurisdiction to comport with the
limits of due process, the defendant's suit-related
conduct must create a substantial connection with the forum
state. Walden v. Fiore, U.S., 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121
(2014). This jurisdictional inquiry focuses on whether the
defendant has sufficient minimum contacts with the forum and
whether the plaintiff's cause of action arises out of or
relates to those forum-related contacts. Id. at
1121. To decide whether or not specific jurisdiction exists,
a court examines “(1) the extent to which the defendant
purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting
activities in the State; (2) whether the plaintiff[‘s]
claims arise out of those activities directed at the State;
and (3) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction would
be constitutionally reasonable.” Mitrano v.
Hawes, 377 F.3d 402, 407 (4th Cir. 2004).
initial inquiry, purposeful availment, “is grounded on
the traditional due process concept of ‘minimum
contacts[.]'” Universal Leather, 773 F.3d
at 559. “[A] single act can support jurisdiction,
” so long as that act “creates a
‘substantial connection' with the forum.”
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 n.18
(1985). “[T]he constitutional touchstone remains
whether the defendant purposefully established ‘minimum
contacts' in the forum State.” Id. at 474.
“Th[e] ‘purposeful availment' requirement
ensures that a defendant will not be hauled into a
jurisdiction solely as a result of ‘random, '
‘fortuitous, ' or ‘attenuated' contacts,
or of the ‘unilateral activity of another party or a
third person.'” Id. at 475 (internal
citations omitted); see also Unspam Techs., Inc. v.
Chernuk, 716 F.3d 322, 328 (4th Cir. 2013); ESAB
Grp., Inc. v. Zurich Ins. PLC, 685 F.3d 376, 392 (4th
analyze “various nonexclusive factors” to
determine if a corporate defendant has purposefully availed
itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the
state, including, but not limited to:
• whether the defendant maintains offices or agents in
the forum state,
• whether the defendant owns property in the forum
• whether the defendant reached into the forum state to
solicit or initiate business,
• whether the defendant deliberately engaged in
significant or long-term business activities in ...