United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND PARTIAL DISMISSAL
HARWELL G. DAVIS, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
above-entitled civil action is before the court on the Motion
to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction filed by defendant Gary
Grove. (Doc. 14). Plaintiff has filed responses
to the motion. (Docs. 23 & 26).
complaint seeks a declaratory judgment and asserts claims for
fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract and unjust
enrichment against defendants Trissl Sports Cars and TMT
America. The action arose from plaintiff's purchase of a
vehicle from Trissl Sports Cars and TMT
America. Plaintiff, a resident of the United
Kingdom, sought to purchase a 1965 air-cooled Porsche 911. He
contacted Trissl after seeing its advertisement in an online
car forum for a 1965 Porsche 911 (VIN 301834). After email
exchanges and negotiations, plaintiff purchased a vehicle
from Trissl, and the vehicle was delivered to plaintiff in
the United Kingdom. However, upon inspection, the vehicle
turned out to be a 1967 Porsche 911S (VIN 301834), and it
appeared that VIN tags from a 1965 Porsche 911 had been
welded onto the vehicle actually delivered to plaintiff.
was able to obtain the factory build sheet for the 1967 car
and was able to determine much about the provenance of both
the vehicle he purchased and the vehicle he thought he was
purchasing. Plaintiff avers he discovered that Gary Grove
bought the 1967 Porsche and obtained a Certificate of
Conformity from Porsche on February 9, 2015, identifying VIN
301834 as belonging to a 1965 Porsche 911. Grove advertised
the car for sale before Trissl bought it on March 3, 2015.
Plaintiff avers other potential buyers of the vehicle from
Grove reported to plaintiff what Grove had told them, which
contradicted Trissl's subsequent representations of the
car's provenance in the online advertisement and what
plaintiff was told.
The Motion to Dismiss
support of his motion, defendant Grove states that he is not
a resident of the State of Alabama and lacks sufficient
contacts with the State of Alabama for this court to exercise
either specific or general jurisdiction. In his affidavit,
Grove states that he is a resident and citizen of Tennessee.
(Doc. 14-1 at ¶ 2). He has never resided in Alabama and
does not and never has owned or leased personal property in
Alabama. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 4). Grove also
attests he does not and never has owned a business in
Alabama, does not conduct business in Alabama, and never has
been employed in Alabama. (Id. at ¶ 5). Grove
further attests that he never has maintained a bank account
in Alabama, nor has he ever maintained an office or place of
business, address, directory listing, answering service, or
telephone number in Alabama. (Id. at ¶¶ 6,
7). He also asserts that, apart from the instant action, he
never has been a plaintiff or defendant in any lawsuit in
state of federal court in Alabama. (Id. at ¶
8). He also has no personal or business reason to travel to,
nor be in, Alabama. (Id. at ¶ 11). With respect
to the sale of the vehicle to Trissl, Grove states that he
sold an early model Porsche to Trissl in Lenoir City,
Tennessee, on March 3, 2015, and that the sale was conducted
in Tennessee after Trissl inspected the vehicle at his home
in Tennessee. (Id. at ¶ 9, 10).
opposition, plaintiff asks the court to deny or defer ruling
on the motion until he is able to conduct discovery of Grove.
Plaintiff contends that Grove's testimony is fundamental
to establishing his case against Trissl and TMT America. He
asserts that Grove's testimony may contradict
Trissl's testimony and evidence, or will at least
definitively establish what Grove told Trissl when he sold
the vehicle to Trissl. In fact, plaintiff has served
interrogatories on Grove. Plaintiff argues that if Grove is
dismissed as a defendant from this action, he would have to
file suit against Grove in Tennessee; however, since he has
no claim against Grove (other than wishing to determine what
Grove told Trissl about the vehicle), any such suit would be
dismissed for failure to state a claim. Thus, plaintiff
asserts, Grove is a necessary party defendant to this action
for purposes of discovery only. Plaintiff avers there is no
need for Grove to attend court, only respond to
plaintiff's interrogatories from Tennessee.
Personal Jurisdiction Analysis
subject matter jurisdiction of this court is based on
diversity of citizenship and amount in controversy, as
provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The United States Supreme
Court has identified two types of personal jurisdiction,
specific and general. Helicopteros Nacionales de
Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 411-15 nn. 8 &
9, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 1870-72 nn.8 & 9, 80 L.Ed.2d 404
(1984). Specific personal jurisdiction arises when the
defendant's contacts with the forum are related to the
plaintiff's cause of action. Madara v. Hall, 916
F.2d 1510, 1516 n.7 (11th Cir. 1990); Williams Elec. Co.
v. Honeywell, Inc., 854 F.2d 389, 392 (11th Cir. 1988)
plaintiff is seeking to establish a court's personal
jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant, the plaintiff
must state sufficient facts in the complaint to support a
reasonable inference that the defendant can be subjected to
jurisdiction within the state in which the court sits. When a
district court does not conduct an evidentiary hearing on a
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the
plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of
personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant.
Madara v. Hall, 916 F.2d 1510, 1514 (11th Cir.
1990); Morris v. SSE, Inc., 843 F.2d 489, 492 (11th
Cir. 1988). The plaintiff can establish a prima
facie case by presenting enough evidence to withstand a
motion for directed verdict. Id.; Stubbs v.
Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino, 447
F.3d 1357, 1360 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing Meier ex rel.
Meier v. Sun Int'l Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d 1264,
1268-69 (11th Cir. 2002)). The facts as alleged in the
complaint must be accepted by the court to be true, to the
extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's
affidavits. Morris, 843 F.2d at 492. If the
complaint allegations and the defendant's affidavits
conflict, the court must construe all reasonable inferences
in favor of the plaintiff. Id.; Stubbs, 447
F.3d at 1360. However, plaintiff still bears the burden to
“produce evidence supporting personal
jurisdiction.” Stubbs, 447 F.3d at 1360.
engages in a two-part analysis to determine whether it has
personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant.
Cable/Home Communication Corp. v. Network Prods.,
Inc., 902 F.2d 829, 855 (11th Cir. 1990). First, the
state's long arm statute must offer a basis for the
exercise of jurisdiction. Id. If so, the court must
then determine whether there are sufficient “minimum
contacts” to satisfy the Fourteenth Amendment's Due
Process Clause, such that “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, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90
L.Ed. 95 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S.
457, 463, 61 S.Ct. 339, 342, 85 L.Ed. 278 (1940)).
long arm statute, Rule 4.2, Ala.R.Civ.P, provides in
(b) Basis for Out-Of-State Service. An appropriate basis
exists for service of process outside of this state upon a
person or entity in any action in this state when the person
or entity has such contacts with this state that the
prosecution of the action against the person or entity in
this state is not inconsistent with ...