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. 6) for lack of personal
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2).
In the alternative, Defendant also moves to transfer venue to
the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
pursuant to Sections 1404, 1406, and 1631 of Title 28 of the
U.S. Code. (Doc. No. 6). Upon review by the Court, for the
reasons below, the Motion to Dismiss is DENIED and the Motion
to Transfer Venue is GRANTED.
to the Complaint,  Plaintiff In-Flight Crew Connections, LLC,
is a North Carolina limited liability company headquartered
in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Doc. No. 1, p. 1). The
Complaint is an action seeking declaratory judgment that
Plaintiff has not infringed upon Defendant's trademarks.
(Doc. No. 1, pp. 5-6). The Complaint asserts Defendant Flight
Crews Unlimited, Inc., is an Illinois corporation
headquartered in Richmond, Illinois. (Doc. No. 1, p. 1).
to the pleadings, both Plaintiff and Defendant provide
personnel, such as pilots, mechanics, and attendants, for
parties arranging private air travel. (Doc. No. 6-1, p.3);
(Doc. No. 9, p. 2). Plaintiff alleges Defendant employs
several people who reside in North Carolina and frequently
does business with North Carolina-based customers. (Doc. No.
9, pp. 6-8).
alleges Defendant has threatened to file or has filed
numerous trademark infringement complaints against them.
(Doc. No. 9, pp. 2-4). The allegations further claim that the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has ruled in favor of
Plaintiff on one of these trademark infringement complaints.
(Doc. No. 1, pp. 3-4). Plaintiff asserts Defendant has
appealed this decision and continues to issue
cease-and-desist letters regarding Plaintiff's trademark
use. (Doc. No. 1, p. 4).
filing an answer, Defendant 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. (Doc. No. 6).
Defendant's pleading also moved in the alternative for a
transfer of venue to the Northern District of Illinois under
Sections 1404 and 1631 of Title 28 of the U.S. Code. (Doc.
No. 6). Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition to the
Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 9), and Defendant replied, (Doc.
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 (2014). 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.
is appropriate in “a judicial district in which any
defendant resides, . . . in which a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a
substantial part of property that is the subject of the
action is situated.” 28 U.S.C. § 1391 (2016). A
district court may transfer an action to another district for
reasons of convenience upon motions by or the consent of the
parties. Id. at § 1404. A court may also
transfer venue “in the interest of justice” when
it is discovered that court lacks jurisdiction. Id.
at § 1631. A transfer under Section 1631 is appropriate
when (1) the proposed transferee court has jurisdiction, (2)
the action would have been timely filed had it been brought
initially in the transferee court, and (3) transfer would
serve the interests of justice. Afifi v. U.S. Dep't
of Interior, 924 F.2d 61, 64 n.6 (4th Cir. 1991).
there is no need for extensive analysis of general personal
jurisdiction. Plaintiff does not allege Defendant is a
resident of or has its principal place of business in North
Carolina. (Doc. No. 1, p. 1). As for specific personal
jurisdiction, the three elements laid out in Consulting
Engineers must be met. For the reasons below, the first
and second elements are not met and the Court may not
exercise specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant.
Section 1631 of Title 28 ...