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Sangha v. Navig8 Ship Management Pte Ltd.

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

February 27, 2019

MANJIT SANGHA, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVIG8 SHIP MANAGEMENT PTE LTD., et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SONJA F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Navig8 Ship Management Pte. Ltd.'s motion to dismiss. (Doc. 9). The motion, which has been fully briefed, has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for entry of a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and S.D. Ala. CivLR 72(a)(2)(S). Upon consideration of all matters presented, the undersigned RECOMMENDS, for the reasons stated herein, that Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction be DENIED, that Defendant's motion to dismiss on the basis of forum non conveniens be DENIED, that Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim be DENIED, and that Defendant's motion for more definite statement be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The undersigned also recommends that Defendant Navig8 Group be DISMISSED without prejudice as a Defendant in this matter, based upon the stipulation of the parties.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Manjit Sangha (“Capt. Sangha”), a citizen of the Republic of India, was granted permanent residency status in the United States in 2015 and resided in Boca Raton, Florida during all periods relevant to this action. (Doc. 14-1 at 1). From 2009 until October 2015, Capt. Sangha was employed by Defendant Navig8 Ship Management Pte. Ltd. (“Navig8”) as a master on the M/V MISS CLAUDIA (“M/V Miss Claudia”), which sailed out of Harris County, Texas. (Doc. 1 at 2). According to Capt. Sangha, his employment relationship with Navig8 was “formed and executed” in the state of Texas. (Id.).

         Navig8 is a Singaporean company, with offices in Singapore, London, and India. (Doc. 15-1 at 1). Navig8 is a technical manager of ships, with responsibility for maintaining ships and providing crews, as it did when it assigned Capt. Sangha to work as master of the M/V Miss Claudia. (Doc. 15 at 8; Doc. 15-1 at 1-2). The M/V Miss Claudia is time chartered by other companies for worldwide service, but at all times relevant to this lawsuit, the vessel was deployed as a “bunker barge” in the Gulf of Mexico, primarily loading bunker fuel in the port of Houston for delivery to other vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. (Doc. 15-1 at 1-2).

         In October 2015, while Capt. Sangha was serving as a master on the M/V Miss Claudia, the ship collided with another vessel, the M/V EURONIKE (“M/V Euronike”), in the Gulf of Mexico. (Doc. 1 at 2; Doc. 9-5). The collision resulted in damage to both ships. (Id.). After the collision, the M/V Miss Claudia dry-docked in Mobile, Alabama for approximately four months for repairs. (Doc. 1 at 2-3). Although Capt. Sangha maintains that the collision between the vessels was not his fault and that he took corrective action that limited the damage to the M/V Miss Claudia, Navig8 chose not to renew his contract after the collision. (Id.).

         In March 2016, Capt. Sangha entered into an employment contract with Marine Consultancy LLC (“Marine Consultancy”) to serve as a mooring master on ships operating in the Gulf of Mexico. (Id. at 3). As a mooring master, Capt. Sangha was to conduct independent mooring operations and supervise ship-to-ship fuel transfer operations in the Gulf of Mexico. (Id.). Capt. Sangha reported to Marine Consultancy's principal, Capt. Johannes Schild (“Capt. Schild”), who maintains Marine Consultancy's main office in Daphne, Alabama. (Id.).

         Capt. Sangha's first assignment with Marine Consultancy was aboard the M/V SONGA PEARL (“M/V Songa Pearl”). (Id.). On April 9, 2016, the M/V Songa Pearl was tasked with loading bunker fuel from the M/V Miss Claudia so that the M/V Songa Pearl could then refuel other ships in the Gulf of Mexico. (See Doc. 1 at 3; Doc. 9-5 at 4-5; Doc. 14-1 at 2-3). Before the ship-to-ship transfer operation occurred, Navig8 learned that Capt. Sangha would be the mooring master on the M/V Songa Pearl during the upcoming bunker fuel loading operation. (Doc. 1 at 3; Doc. 9-5 at 4). Capt. Sangha alleges that upon learning that he had been assigned to the fuel exchange between the M/V Miss Claudia and the M/V Songa Pearl, employees of Navig8 and/or a company named Glencore[1] reached out to Capt. Sangha's supervisor, Capt. Schild, in Daphne, Alabama and informed him that Navig8 required that Marine Consultancy terminate Capt. Sangha's employment. (Doc. 1 at 3). As a result, Capt. Sangha was removed from the M/V Songa Pearl while it was docked in Houston, Texas. (Id.). Capt. Sangha alleges “upon information and belief” that Navig8 made false and misleading statements about him to his employer in order to effectuate his termination. (Id.). Additionally, Capt. Sangha alleges that Navig8 sent emails to Capt. Schild that contained false and/or misleading statements intended to damage Capt. Sangha and his professional reputation and character. (Id.). Capt. Sangha further asserts that “[d]efendants acted in malicious fashion in order to discredit Capt. Sangha and destroy his ability to work as a captain and mooring master in the Gulf of Mexico.” (Id. at 4). Capt. Sangha maintains that “Defendants' [sic] made false statements and told half-truths in a misleading manner and these statements, when viewed in the proper context, were wholly false, libelous, and slanderous.” (Id. at 4-5). Capt. Sangha also alleges that Defendants' actions resulted in extreme business disruption for him, loss of income, moving expenses, mental anguish, emotional distress, and other financial losses including the loss of business goodwill. (Id. at 4).

         Capt. Sangha filed suit against Navig8 and Navig8 Group in Harris County, Texas on July 19, 2016. (Doc. 9-2). In the Texas lawsuit, Capt. Sangha asserted various state law tort claims, including tortious interference with his employment contract with Marine Consultancy, defamation, tortious interference with current and prospective relations and economic advantage, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud. (Id.).

         Navig8 removed the case to the federal district court for the Southern District of Texas based upon its assertion that Capt. Sangha's claims fell within the original admiralty or maritime jurisdiction of the federal courts. Sangha v. Navig8 ShipManagement Private Ltd., 882 F.3d 96, 99 (5th Cir. 2018).[2]Thereafter, Navig8 filed a motion to dismiss under, inter alia, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). Id. Navig8 argued that the case should be dismissed because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over Navig8 and based on the application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Id. The district court, after permitting limited jurisdictional discovery, dismissed Capt. Sangha's claims. Id. The district court concluded that Navig8 did not have sufficient contacts with the State of Texas to permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction, and that dismissal was also warranted under the forum non conveniens doctrine. Id.

         Capt. Sangha appealed and argued primarily that the district court abused its discretion by not addressing his challenge to federal subject-matter jurisdiction before dismissing the case based on the issues of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. Id. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal on personal jurisdiction grounds and found that under the circumstances of the case, the district court acted within its discretion in deciding the personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens issues without addressing the issue of subject-matter jurisdiction. Id. at 100-04.

         Capt. Sangha then filed this action, asserting causes of action for tortious interference with existing contract, defamation, tortious interference with current and prospective relations and economic advantage, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (See Doc. 1). On July 6, 2018, Navig8 filed the instant motion seeking dismissal of Capt. Sangha's lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds and for failure to state a claim or, in the alternative, a more definite statement by Capt. Sangha, along with an accompanying memorandum. (Docs. 9, 9-1). Navig8 contends that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it and is consequently precluded from adjudicating this claim. (Doc. 9-1 at 4-13). Navig8 argues that Capt. Sangha has failed to allege and cannot show that Navig8 has ever had continuous and systematic contacts with Alabama sufficient to establish a prima facie case of general jurisdiction in the state. (Id. at 5-6). Navig8 further avers that the Court lacks specific jurisdiction over it because its contacts with Alabama are minimal, consisting only of a few email exchanges with Capt. Sangha's employer, by way of Capt. Schild, who is located in Alabama. (Id. at 8). According to Navig8, these emails were not purposeful contacts with the forum state; rather, they were merely “fortuitous contacts with a third-party who happens to have an office here.” (Id.). Alternatively, Navig8 asks the Court to dismiss the case under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. (Id. at 19-21).

         Navig8 also seeks dismissal of Capt. Sangha's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Id. at 13-19). As an exhibit to its motion, Navig8 attaches the email correspondence concerning Capt. Sangha that was exchanged between Navig8 representatives and Capt. Schild from April 9, 2016 through April 11, 2016. (Doc. 9-5). This correspondence includes two emails sent by Navig8 representative Manish Gupta to Capt. Schild on April 9, 2016, one email sent by Navig8 representative Prashaant Mirchandani to Capt. Schild on April 10, 2016, and Capt. Schild's replies to each of those emails. (See id.). In their emails, Gupta and Mirchandani stated to Capt. Schild that Capt. Sangha was not to be involved in ship-to-ship operations involving the M/V Miss Claudia. (Id. at 1-2, 4). Navig8 contends that the emails do not support the legal claims alleged in Capt. Sangha's complaint.

         Navig8 argues that if the complaint is not dismissed for jurisdictional reasons or failure to state a claim, judicial economy and the interests of justice will be served by requiring Capt. Sangha to amend his complaint to “provide sufficient notice as to how Navig8's request that Capt. Sangha not be involved with the Miss Claudia's operations during a pending investigation and lawsuit caused or is related to the allegations in the four counts.” (Doc. 9-1 at 21-22). Finally, Navig8 asserts that Navig8 Group is not a separate legal entity, but instead a term used to refer collectively to a group of entities, and that Navig8 Group should therefore be dismissed as a Defendant. (Id. at 22).

         In his opposition to Navig8's motion, Capt. Sangha consents to the dismissal of Navig8 Group without prejudice. (Doc. 14 at 3). He also concedes the absence of general jurisdiction over Navig8 in Alabama. (Id.). Capt. Sangha argues, however, that the Court has specific personal jurisdiction over Navig8 because Navig8 employees or representatives purposefully communicated with Capt. Schild to interfere with Capt. Sangha's “Alabama employment relationship which ended up causing the employer to terminate that relationship.” (Id. at 5). Capt. Sangha contends that “Marine Consultancy's presence in Alabama is obvious[, ]” and that the “brunt of the injury” was suffered in Alabama, because the communications and emails harmed his reputation in the eyes of his Alabama employer. (Id.). In addition, Capt. Sangha requests that in the event the Court concludes that it lacks specific jurisdiction over Navig8, he be permitted to conduct discovery to determine whether jurisdiction exists under Rule 4(k)(2). (Id. at 7). As to the forum non conveniens issue, Capt. Sangha contends that Navig8 has provided no evidence of the existence of an adequate foreign forum and argues that the private and public interest factors favor trying the case in Alabama. (Id. at 9-11).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

         As a threshold matter, the Court must determine whether it has personal jurisdiction over Navig8. “As a general rule, courts should address issues relating to personal jurisdiction before reaching the merits of a plaintiff's claims. A defendant that is not subject to the jurisdiction of the court cannot be bound by its rulings.” Republic of Pan. v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) S.A., 119 F.3d 935, 940 (11th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted).

         1. Standard of Review

         The issue of whether a court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant is a question of law. Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc. v. Food Movers Int'l, Inc., 593 F.3d 1249, 1257 (11th Cir. 2010). Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to assert the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction by motion. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). “A plaintiff seeking the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant bears the initial burden of alleging in the complaint sufficient facts to make out a prima facie case of jurisdiction.” United Techs. Corp. v. Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); see also Hard Candy, LLC v. Hard Candy Fitness, LLC, 106 F.Supp.3d 1231, 1238 (S.D. Fla. May 13, 2015). The court “must accept the facts alleged in the complaint as true, to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits.” Vision Media TV Grp., LLC v. Forte, 724 F.Supp.2d 1260, 1263 (S.D. Fla. 2010).

         If the defendant meets its burden of submitting affidavits or other competent evidence to challenge the plaintiff's jurisdictional allegations, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to “substantiate the jurisdictional allegations in the complaint by affidavits, testimony or documents.” Id. at 1263-64; see also Am. Home Assur. Co. v. Weaver Aggregate Transp., Inc., 719 F.Supp.2d 1333, 1334 (M.D. Ala. 2010) (“In other words, the plaintiff cannot respond merely by relying on the jurisdictional allegations in its complaint but must substantiate those allegations by affidavit or other component proof.”).

         “[W]here the evidence presented by the parties' affidavits and deposition testimony conflicts, the court must construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant plaintiff.” Morris v. SSE, Inc., 843 F.2d 489, 492 (11th Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). Notwithstanding the burden-shifting framework identified herein, “[i]t goes without saying that, where the defendant challenges the court's exercise of jurisdiction over its person, the plaintiff bears the ultimate burden of establishing that personal jurisdiction is present.” Oldfield v. Pueblo De Bahia Lora, S.A., 558 F.3d 1210, 1217 (11th Cir. 2009).

         Under the due process clause, “a State may authorize its courts to extend 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 place and substantial justice.'” Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 126 (2014) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotation marks omitted). “The Due Process Clause, by ensuring the ‘orderly administration of the laws,' gives a degree of predictability to the legal system that allows potential defendants to structure their primary conduct with some minimum assurance as to where that conduct will and will not render them liable to suit.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980) (internal citation omitted).

         When faced with a Rule 12(b)(2) motion, “the plaintiff has the twin burdens of establishing that personal jurisdiction over the defendant comports with (1) the forum state's long-arm provision[3] and (2) the requirements of the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” Continental Motors, Inc. v. Jewell Aircraft, Inc., 882 F.Supp.2d 1296, 1306 (S.D. Ala. 2012) (citation omitted). “In this case, the two inquiries merge, because Alabama's long-arm statute permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the fullest extent constitutionally permissible.” Sloss Indus. Corp. v. Eurisol, 488 F.3d 922, 925 (11th Cir. 2007). Thus, the Court must determine whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Navig8 comports with the constitutional guarantees of due process.

         The particulars of the constitutional analysis depend on whether the type of personal jurisdiction asserted in a case is “general” or “specific.” Facts supporting personal jurisdiction “may be general, which arise from the party's contacts with the forum state that are unrelated to the claim, or specific, which arise from the party's contacts with the forum state that are related to the claim.” Continental Motors, 882 F.Supp.2d at 1307 (citation omitted). General jurisdiction “refers to the power of a court in the forum to adjudicate any cause of action involving a particular defendant, irrespective of where the cause of action arose” because the defendant is at home in the forum. Oldfield, 558 F.3d at 1220 n.27. As noted, Capt. Sangha concedes that no general jurisdiction exists over Navig8 in Alabama. Instead, he asserts that the Court has specific jurisdiction over Navig8 in this matter.

         “Specific jurisdiction refers to ‘jurisdiction over causes of action arising from or related to a defendant's actions within the forum.'” PVC Windoors, 598 F.3d at 808 (quoting Oldfield, 558 F.3d at 1220 n.27). “[T]he relationship must arise out of contacts that the ‘defendant himself' creates with the forum state.” Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277, 284 (2014) (citation omitted) (emphasis in original). Courts within the Eleventh Circuit apply a three-part due process test to determine whether specific personal jurisdiction is present, namely:

(1) whether the plaintiff's claims arise out of or relate to at least one of the defendant's contacts with the forum; (2) whether the nonresident defendant purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum state, thus invoking the benefit of the forum state's laws; and (3) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

         Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Mosseri, 736 F.3d 1339, 1355 (11th Cir. 2013) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing each of the first two prongs, and if the plaintiff does so, the defendant must make a “compelling case” that exercising jurisdiction would violate tradition notions of fair play and substantial justice. Id.

         2. Analysis

         Navig8 argues that specific jurisdiction is absent because its alleged contacts with Alabama, consisting of three emails from its representatives to Capt. Sangha's supervisor, were not expressly aimed at Alabama. Navig8 argues that it could not reasonably have anticipated that Capt. Sangha would suffer harm in Alabama based on the emails to his supervisor, Capt. Schild, who, according to Navig8, just happened to be located in Alabama. Capt. Sangha retorts that the emails were “purposeful communication” to his Alabama employer in order to harm his reputation in his employer's eyes, and that the brunt of the injury was suffered in Alabama. The Court must perform the three-pronged due process analysis outlined above to determine whether specific personal jurisdiction exists over Navig8 in this case.

         To determine whether exercising jurisdiction is appropriate, “a court properly focuses on ‘the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.'” Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 788 (1984) (quoting Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977)). “So long as it creates a ‘substantial connection' with the forum, even a single act can support jurisdiction.” Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 n.18 (1985) (citation omitted). The Eleventh Circuit has recognized that “[i]ntentional torts are such acts, and may support the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant who has no other contacts with the forum.” Licciardello v. Lovelady, 544 F.3d 1280, 1285 (11th Cir. 2008). However, “some single or occasional acts related to the forum may not be sufficient to establish jurisdiction if their nature and quality and the circumstances of their commission create only an attenuated affiliation with the forum.” Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475 n.18 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         In assessing the first prong of the three-part due process test, whether the litigation arises out of or relates to the defendant's contacts with the forum, the Court's “inquiry must focus on the direct causal relationship between the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.” Louis Vuitton, 736 F.3d at 1355-56. It is “not enough that there be some similarity between the activities that connect the defendant to the forum and the plaintiff's claim.” Lovelady, 544 F.3d at 1284 n.3 (emphasis in original). Rather, for a claim to have arisen from a defendant's contacts with the forum, those contacts must be “related to the operative facts of the controversy[.]” Id. Here, the first prong of the test is met because Capt. Sangha's intentional tort claims all arise out of Navig8's communications to Capt. Sangha's employer in Alabama.

         The second prong of the due-process test, which focuses on whether Navig8 “purposefully availed” itself of the privilege of conducting activities within Alabama, presents a more complicated issue. The Eleventh Circuit has two applicable tests for determining whether purposeful availment has occurred in intentional tort cases. Louis Vuitton, 736 F.3d at 1356. The first of these is the effects test articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Calder.[4] Louis Vuitton, 736 F.3d at 1356. Under the effects test, even a single tortious act by a defendant can establish purposeful availment, without regard to whether the defendant had any other contacts with the forum state, if the tort “(1) was intentional; (2) was aimed at the forum state; and (3) caused harm that the defendant should have anticipated would be suffered in the forum state.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court may also apply the traditional minimum contacts test, which asks whether the defendant's contacts with the forum state “(1) are related to the plaintiff's cause of action; (2) involve some act by which the defendant purposefully availed himself of the privileges of doing business within the forum; and (3) are such that the defendant should reasonably anticipate being haled into court in the forum.” Id. at 1357. Purposeful availment is established when either, or both, of these tests are satisfied. Id. Because the Calder effects test is “generally considered the more appropriate measure of purposeful availment” when an intentional tort is alleged, the Court will begin the purposeful availment analysis by applying that test to the case at hand. See Tobinick v. Novella, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8085, at *21, 2015 WL 328236, at *7 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 23, 2015) (citing Oldfield, 558 F.3d at 1221).

         Here, the first element of the “effects test” is met because Navig8 representatives allegedly committed intentional acts by contacting Capt. Sangha's supervisor, Capt. Schild, in Alabama and informing him that Navig8 demanded Capt. Sangha's termination, making false and misleading statements about Capt. Sangha to Capt. Schild in order to effectuate his termination, and sending Capt. Schild false and misleading emails concerning Capt. Sangha. See Sunny Handicraft (H.K.) Ltd. v. Edwards, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39183, at *18, 2017 WL 1049842, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 20, 2017) (“First, by sending the allegedly defamatory e-mails, Edwards engaged in intentional and allegedly tortious conduct.”).

         As to the second element, there appears to be little question that the allegedly tortious communications and emails were directed to and purposefully sent to Capt. Sangha's supervisor, Capt. Schild, who is located in Alabama. Navig8 contends there is nothing in the emails that would have alerted its representatives that Capt. Schild and Marine Consultancy were located in Alabama. However, a fair reading of the complaint shows that Capt. Sangha alleges that in addition to the emails, Navig8 employees reached out to his supervisor in Alabama and demanded his termination and made false and misleading statements in order to effectuate his termination and ruin his professional reputation. Moreover, Navig8 has come forth with no competent evidence demonstrating that it was unaware at the time of the relevant emails and other alleged communications that Capt. Schild and Plaintiff's employer were based in Alabama. Construing all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Capt. Sangha, the Court finds that Capt. Sangha has sufficiently alleged that Defendant purposefully directed communications to his employer in Alabama. See Range Creek Holdings, LLC v. Cypress Capital II, LLC, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23951, at *17, 2009 WL 857533, at *6 (S.D. Ala. Mar. 25, 2009) (“[I]t appears that all of the communications that gave rise to this case were directed at an individual who was physically present in the state of Alabama. This allegation is supported by the fact that Utah Reverse, Water Canyon, Range Creek, and Patmos all share one common address in Daphne, Alabama. Given that this case is rooted in what the defendants told the plaintiffs orally and in writing, . . . this case arose out of alleged misdeeds that the defendants directed at the state of Alabama.”) (internal citations omitted).

         Navig8 argues that the third element of the effects test is not met because it could not reasonably have anticipated its activity to cause injury in Alabama, since Capt. Sangha is a Florida resident and Indian citizen who worked in international waters on ships that primarily sailed out of Houston, Texas. According to Navig8, even if its emails did create an effect in Alabama, it was mere happenstance that Capt. Schild was based in the state, which is not sufficient to meaningfully connect Navig8's conduct to the forum.

         As a preliminary matter, a plaintiff's lack of residence in the forum state will not necessarily defeat jurisdiction if defendant's contacts with the forum state are sufficient. See Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 780 (1984). In Keeton, a New York resident sued Hustler in New Hampshire, claiming that she had been libeled in five separate issues of the national magazine, which sold some 10, 000 to 15, 000 copies per month in New Hampshire. Id. at 772. Concluding that specific jurisdiction was present, the Supreme Court relied principally on the connection between the circulation of the magazine in New Hampshire and damage allegedly caused within the State. The Court stressed that even though the subject of the libel resided elsewhere, “[f]alse statements of fact harm both the subject of the falsehood and the readers of the statement.” Id. at 776 (emphasis deleted).

         As the foregoing would suggest, it is a well-established maxim that “a defamation injury occurs in any state where the allegedly defamatory statement was published.” Sunny Handicraft, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39183, at *18, 2017 WL 1049842, at *6; see also Keeton, 465 U.S. at 777 (“The tort of libel is generally held to occur wherever the offending material is circulated. The reputation of the libel victim may suffer harm even in a state in which he has hitherto been anonymous. The communication of the libel may create a negative reputation among the residents of a jurisdiction where the plaintiff's previous reputation was, however small, at least unblemished.”) (internal citation omitted); Strabala v. Zhang, 318 F.R.D. 81, 110 (N.D. Ill. 2016) (“[T]he injury occasioned in a defamation case, like a libel case, occurs in the state where the e-mail recipients are located.”); Campbell v. Campbell, 262 F.Supp.3d 701, 708 (N.D. Ill. 2017) (“An individual who sends to another person's employer messages like the ones at issue here can reasonably expect to be haled into court where the messages were sent.”).

         The Court has already rejected Navig8's assertion concerning the allegedly “fortuitous” connection between its communications with Capt. Sangha's employer and the state of Alabama. Having done so, the Court is not persuaded by Navig8's argument that it could not reasonably have anticipated that its communications with Capt. Sangha's employer would cause injury in Alabama. Although Capt. Sangha alleges four separate intentional tort causes of action, each of his claims arise directly from allegedly defamatory, false, and misleading statements made in communications directed to his employer in Alabama. Since the allegedly tortious communications were made to Capt. Sangha's employer in Alabama, the third prong of the effects test is met, and the Court finds that Capt. Sangha has satisfied the effects test set forth in Calder. Accordingly, Capt. Sangha has established the “purposeful availment” prong of the three-part due process test. Because the Court finds that Capt. Sangha has established purposeful availment under the Calder effects test, it need not perform a traditional minimum contacts analysis.

         Having found that Navig8 has constitutionally sufficient contacts with the state of Alabama, the Court now must consider whether the exercise of jurisdiction over Navig8 would nevertheless offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316 (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). Relevant factors in this determination “include the burden on the defendant, the forum's interest in adjudicating the dispute, the plaintiff's interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief and the judicial system's interest in resolving the dispute.” Lovelady, 544 F.3d at 1288 (citation omitted). Navig8 states that it does not systematically engage in any business with the United States or own or lease any real property in this country. (Doc. 15-1). Navig8 emphasizes that it is not incorporated in any state in the United States, has no office here, pays no taxes here, has no officers or shareholders located here, and does not have an agent for service of process in the United States. (Id.). Navig8 points out that neither it nor Capt. Sangha are Alabama residents or even U.S. citizens and that there are no questions of Alabama law at issue. (Doc. 9-1 at 21). It argues that “foreseeable administrative difficulties” are likely to burden a busy court with a case “that really has no connection with Alabama.” (Id.). The undersigned agrees that Navig8's demonstrated contacts with the state of Alabama consist of the subject communications with Plaintiff's employer and Navig8's unrelated involvement in the one-time repair of the M/V Miss Claudia performed at a Mobile shipyard. Accordingly, there will certainly be some burden on Navig8 to defend this case in Alabama. However, Navig8 is an international company with offices and employees across the globe. It is accustomed to complying with regulatory obligations in various countries. (See Doc. 15-1 at 2). While defending a lawsuit in Alabama will undoubtedly present some burden on Navig8, the burden will not be as great as it would be on a foreign defendant accustomed to operating only in its native country.

         Despite Navig8's assertion to the contrary, both Alabama and the judicial system have a significant interest in adjudicating this dispute. As the Supreme Court noted in Keeton, “[f]alse statements of fact harm both the subject of the falsehood and the readers of the statement. [A state] may rightly employ its libel laws to discourage the deception of its citizens.” Keeton, 465 U.S. at 776 (emphasis in original). Further, a state “may also extend its concern to the injury that in-state libel causes within [the state] to a nonresident.” Id. The plaintiff, Capt. Sangha, also has a strong interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief in the forum in which he allegedly suffered injury. As the relevant factors militate in favor of exercising jurisdiction over Navig8, it does not ...


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