United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. No. 8) for lack of personal
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2).
Upon review by the Court, for the reasons below, the Motion
is GRANTED with regard to Defendants Sosa and Thomson and
DENIED with regard to all other moving parties.
to the Complaint,  Plaintiff Bryant Ibekwe is a resident of
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. (Doc. No. 1, p. 1). His
complaint concerns an assortment of defendants including four
business entities: Blood Oranges, LLC; CrissCross Funding;
Minicast, LLC; and Native Digital, Inc. (collectively,
“Entity Defendants”), and five individuals (Amy
Hill, Miguel Sosa, Juliet Summer Thomson, and Scott Ward
(collectively “Individual Defendants”), as well
as James Linen. (Doc. No. 1, p. 1). Entity Defendants and
Individual Defendants are collectively “Moving
alleges he and Defendants entered into several loan
agreements, ostensibly for the purpose of supporting various
business plans and charitable ventures. (Doc. No. 1, pp.
3-4). Plaintiff eventually came to believe Defendants were
operating sham businesses to induce loans that Defendants
never intended to repay or use for any stated business
purpose. (Doc. No. 1, pp. 10-15).
alleges that none of Moving Defendants are residents of North
Carolina. According to the Complaint, Entity Defendants are
residents of either Delaware, Wyoming, or Missouri with
principal places of business in either California or
Missouri. (Doc. No. 1, pp. 1-3). Moving Defendants have not
challenged this in their pleadings. According to their own
affidavits, Individual Defendants are residents of either
Florida or Colorado. (Doc. No. 9, Exhibits B-E). Only one of
the Defendants, Amy Hill, purports to have ever been to North
Carolina, (Doc. No. 23).
alleges all Defendants knew he was a resident of North
Carolina when they entered into their business relationships.
(Doc. No. 19, Exhibit A). Plaintiff also alleges Defendants
knowingly contacted him in North Carolina with the sole
purpose of soliciting loans or investments. (Doc. No. 1, pp.
3-4). Defendants assert that none of the agreements were
“signed, negotiated, or performed” in North
Carolina, (Doc. No. 9, p. 7).
filing an answer, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) and
a memorandum in support of the motion. (Docs. Nos. 8 &
9). Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition with an
attached affidavit presenting evidence that Defendant Hill
was aware of Plaintiff's residency throughout their
business relationship. (Doc. No. 19). Moving Defendants
replied to Plaintiff's memorandum with an attached
affidavit by Defendant Hill countering Plaintiff's
assertions. (Docs. Nos. 22 & 23).
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), the burden is on the plaintiff to make
a prima facie showing of the grounds for jurisdiction.
See Universal Leather, LLC v. Koro AR, S.A., 773
F.3d 553, 558 (4th Cir. 2014). When the court's analysis
rests solely on the pleadings and supporting affidavits, the
court will read the pleadings and affidavits in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. Combs v. Bakker,
886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989). For the court to exercise
personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants, it must
comply with the long-arm statute of the forum state, and it
must meet the requirements of 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).
North Carolina long-arm statute is interpreted to extend
jurisdiction to the extent allowed by the Due Process Clause,
thereby merging the jurisdictional analysis into a single due
process inquiry. Id. The paradigmatic case for
personal jurisdiction questions is International
Shoe, which requires that “minimum contacts”
exist between the defendant and the forum state such that
“the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice.” International Shoe
Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal
quotations omitted); see also Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 923 (2011).
may exercise general personal jurisdiction over a defendant
when that defendant is essentially “at home” in
the forum. See Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117,
127. For a corporate (or other entity) defendant, “at
home” will usually mean their domicile and their
principal place of business. See id. at 137. For
individual defendants, it typically means their domicile.
Id. When general personal jurisdiction does not
apply, a court may still exercise specific personal
jurisdiction if the plaintiff makes a sufficient showing that
1) the defendant purposefully availed themselves of the forum
and the benefits and protections of its laws, 2) the
plaintiff's claim arises from the purposefully availing
conduct, and 3) the exercise of jurisdiction would be
constitutionally reasonable. See Consulting Engineers
Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 278 (4th Cir.
there is no need for extensive analysis of general personal
jurisdiction. Plaintiff does not allege that any Defendant is
a resident of or has its principal place of business in North
Carolina. (Doc. No. 1, pp. 1-3). As for specific personal
jurisdiction, the three elements laid out in Consulting
Engineers must be met. Here, the second element is
easily established. Plaintiff asserts jurisdiction on the
basis of alleged solicitations for loans and investments and
alleges these solicitations and transactions constitute
fraud. (Doc. No. 1); (Doc. No. 19, p. 11). It is, of course,
still necessary to show Defendants have purposefully availed
themselves of the forum and that jurisdiction would be
constitutionally reasonable. As explained below, these
elements are met, and the Court may exercise specific
personal jurisdiction over Defendants Hill; Ward; Blood