United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
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.).
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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).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
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.
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).
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.
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).
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
MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION
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).
Standard of Review
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).
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
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
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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. 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).
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
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).
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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 ...