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Herron v. Brennan

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

September 12, 2019

MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General, Defendant.



         Before the Court is Defendant Meghan J. Brennan, Postmaster General's, Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction or, in the alternative, to Transfer Venue. (Docket Entry (“D.E.”) #11). Pursuant to Administrative Order 2013-05, the instant motion has been referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for Report and Recommendation. For the reasons set forth herein, it is RECOMMENDED that Defendant's Motion be DENIED.

         I. Introduction

         On December 18, 2018, Plaintiff Robert Herron filed a pro se Complaint alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”). Plaintiff alleges that he resides in Shelby County, Tennessee and that Defendant resides, or its business is located, in St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiff alleges that he was employed at a United States Postal Service (“USPS”) location in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He alleges that he was subjected to unequal terms and conditions of his employment on the basis of gender (Male), color (Black), and race (African American) and that he suffered unlawful retaliation. Plaintiff alleges that the discriminatory acts occurred on May 13, 2015 and that Defendant is no longer committing these acts against him.

         On May 1, 2019, Defendant filed the instant motion advancing two arguments. First, Defendant asserts that “[t]his Court lacks personal jurisdiction over claims brought by a Tennessee resident for conduct of the Defendant alleged by Plaintiff that all took place in the Northern District of Mississippi.” Second, Defendant avers that, “[f]or the same reasons[, ] venue is improper here.” Thus, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Complaint should either be dismissed or transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.

         On May 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed a pro se Response to Defendant's Motion asserting that this Court may exercise jurisdiction over his claim and that his case should be tried in this Court. Plaintiff further requests that, in the event that this Court does not have jurisdiction over his Complaint or that this Court is not the appropriate venue, his Complaint be transferred to another United States District Court rather than be dismissed.

         II. Proposed Analysis

         A. Personal Jurisdiction

         For this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over Plaintiff's Title VII claim, it must find that either general or specific personal jurisdiction exists. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1780 (2017).

         General jurisdiction exists when a defendant's “contacts with the forum state are of such a continuous and systematic nature that the state may exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant even if the action is unrelated to the defendant's contacts with the state.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 615 (citing Bird v. Parsons, 289 F.3d 865, 873 (6th Cir. 2002)) (emphasis added).

         Specific personal jurisdiction is derived from the case or controversy that establishes subject matter jurisdiction. Bristol-Myers Squibb, 137 S.Ct. at 1780. “An exercise of personal jurisdiction is proper where the claims in the case arise from or are related to the defendant's contacts with the forum state.” Intera Corp., 428 F.3d at 615 (citing Kerry Steel, Inc. v. Paragon Indus., Inc., 106 F.3d 147, 149 (6th Cir. 1997)). In Southern Machine Company v. Mohasco Industries, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit promulgated a three-prong test that guides the determination of whether specific jurisdiction exists. S. Mach. Co. v. Mohasco Indus., Inc., 401 F.2d 374, 381 (6th Cir. 1968). The Southern Machine test provides as follows:

First, the defendant must purposefully avail himself of the privilege of acting in the forum state or causing a consequence in the forum state. Second, the cause of action must arise from the defendant's activities there. Finally, the acts of the defendant or consequences caused by the defendant must have a substantial enough connection with the forum state to make the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant reasonable. Id.

         Upon review, Defendant relies upon the Southern Machine factors for her position that personal jurisdiction does not exist; however, her position only considers half of the question, namely, whether specific personal jurisdiction exists. However, upon considering the question of general personal jurisdiction, the Court recommends that USPS maintains continuous and systematic contacts with the State of Tennessee, as it operates the postal service throughout the state. Thus, Plaintiff's claim need not arise from Defendant's activities here-the continuous and systematic contacts alone are enough for general personal jurisdiction to exist. Accordingly, it is RECOMMENDED that this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant and that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss be DENIED.

         B. ...

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