Session: January 9, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 16C2588 Kelvin
D. Jones, Judge
Canadian company hired an independent contractor domiciled in
Tennessee to market its sportswear to golfers on the PGA
Tour. After the Canadian company terminated the contract, the
independent contractor filed a breach of contract action in
Tennessee. The Canadian company moved to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction. Finding insufficient minimum contacts
with Tennessee, the trial court dismissed the complaint. On
appeal, we conclude that the plaintiff failed to establish
sufficient minimum contacts for the exercise of general or
specific jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant. So we
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Stephen W. Grace and Delain L. Deatherage, Nashville,
Tennessee, for the appellant, Arnold Cunningham.
Cole Dowsley, Jr., Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee,
Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Frank G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., and Andy D. Bennett,
NEAL MCBRAYER, JUDGE
2015, Sunice, Inc., a Canadian company, hired Arnold
Cunningham, a Tennessee resident, to promote its golf apparel
to professional golf players on the PGA Tour. The work required
Mr. Cunningham to travel to a minimum of 30 PGA Tour events,
with the express goal of making Sunice the "number 1
outerwear on the PGA Tour." Mr. Cunningham marketed and
sold Sunice's products at various PGA Tour events
throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and Mexico.
After 18 months, Sunice unilaterally terminated the contract.
the termination, Mr. Cunningham sued Sunice for breach of
contract in the Circuit Court of Davidson County, Tennessee.
Sunice responded with a motion to dismiss based upon, among
other things, lack of personal jurisdiction. Sunice supported
its motion with the sworn declaration of Katherine Cleland, a
corporate representative. According to Ms. Cleland, Sunice
had no offices, employees, bank accounts, real property, or
phone listing in Tennessee. It was not registered or
authorized to do business in Tennessee. Sunice was
incorporated under Canadian law and maintained its principal
place of business in Quebec, Canada. Sunice hired Mr.
Cunningham as an independent contractor to serve as
Sunice's brand representative on the PGA Tour. The
services contemplated in the contract were not specific to
Tennessee, but were to be performed throughout the world.
Cunningham responded with his own declaration detailing
Sunice's connections to Tennessee. He claimed that Sunice
solicited him to market its sportswear products on the PGA
Tour and "particularly at the PGA golf event held
annually in Memphis, Tennessee known as the St. Jude
Classic." He signed the contract in Tennessee, and
Sunice sent both sportswear products and monthly checks to
his Tennessee residence. And he represented Sunice at the St.
Jude Classic in Tennessee.
trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The court
determined that Mr. Cunningham failed to establish sufficient
minimum contacts between Sunice and ...