Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 18C709 Ward
Jeffrey Hollingsworth, Judge
driver sued his former employer for damages allegedly
resulting from a phone call made by the former employer to
the driver's new employer. The trial court dismissed the
driver's complaint based upon lack of personal
jurisdiction, and we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
J. Riebsame, Trevose, Pennsylvania, pro se.
Jeffrey G. Granillo and Nathan L. Kinard, Chattanooga,
Tennessee, for the appellee, Bradley Schemel.
D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
John W. McClarty and Carma Dennis McGee, JJ., joined.
D. BENNETT, JUDGE
and Procedural Background
facts before the court on appeal depend upon the procedural
posture of the case. John Riebsame, a former employee of
Holland Enterprises ("Holland"), filed a complaint
in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County, Tennessee on June
18, 2018, against Bradley Schemel, the vice president of
Holland,  a trucking company headquartered in
Mapleton, North Dakota. On July 20, 2018, Mr. Schemel filed a
motion to dismiss pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(2) and
(4) for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient
service of process. With his motion, Mr. Schemel submitted
his own affidavit, the contents of which will be detailed as
relevant below. Mr. Riebsame filed a response. On September
7, 2018, the trial court entered an order granting Mr.
Schemel's motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction and dismissing Mr. Riebsame's complaint. Mr.
Supreme Court stated in First Community Bank, N.A. v.
First Tennessee Bank, N.A., 489 S.W.3d 369 (Tenn. 2015),
"When considering a defendant's 12.02(2) motion, a
trial court 'must take all factual allegations in the
plaintiff's complaint and supporting papers as true'
and must 'resolve all factual disputes in the
plaintiff's favor.'" First Cmty. Bank,
489 S.W.3d at 382 (quoting State v. NV Sumatra Tobacco
Trading Co., 403 S.W.3d 726, 739 (Tenn. 2013)). A
court's determination regarding the exercise of personal
jurisdiction is a question of law, which we review de novo.
we will set forth the pertinent allegations of Mr.
Riebsame's complaint and view them in the light most
favorable to him. Mr. Riebsame was fired by Holland on April
20, 2018. He needed to travel to Markam, Illinois to attend
orientation for a new job with U.S. Xpress, out of
Chattanooga, Tennessee. Holland agreed to provide a rental
car for Mr. Riebsame through its account with Enterprise
Rent-A-Car, and Mr. Riebsame paid Holland for a four-day car
rental. Because of health problems and stress, however, Mr.
Riebsame needed to use the car for more than four days, and
he called Holland to arrange payment for the extra days. He
alleges that the following events then occurred:
When I called the Defendants office on or around 3 May to get
a working phone number for the local Enterprise car rental
near Fargo to pay for the extra time I had the car, the
Defendants office called right back and the Defendant got on
the phone and told me he called my future employer U.S.
Express of Chattanooga Tennessee and told them I stole his
rental car. . . . He said he wanted me to return the car
immediately which I did. The Defendant also said he reported
the car stolen. I confirmed with my recruiter . . . at U.S.
Express that the Defendant called them and said I stole his
rental car. The U.S. Express recruiter also told me because
of the Defendants call, I was permanently unhireable.
to Mr. Riebsame, he attempted to pay for the additional days
"but Enterprise car rental required payment to be made
to the location where the car was rented and
didn't return my calls or answer their
phone." Mr. Riebsame alleges that, as a result of
Mr. Schemel's actions, he lost $2000 in security deposits
and his final paycheck from Holland, was "permanently
prevented from renting a car from Enterprise car rental,
" and sustained physical, emotional, and financial
damages. The exact nature of the causes of action brought by
Mr. Riebsame is not clear. His complaint does, however,
include a request for damages for libel, slander, and
defamation of character.
Schemel filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Riebsame's
complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient
service of process on July 20, 2018. In support of his
motion, Mr. Schemel submitted his own affidavit, which
includes the following pertinent statements:
9. I do not reside at the Holland Enterprises' place of
business. My home address is elsewhere in North Dakota.
10. Through my experience in the trucking industry, I am
generally familiar with the operations of U.S. Xpress, a
trucking company in competition with Holland Enterprises.
11. U.S. Xpress, while based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has
operations in numerous states, including Illinois, Indiana,
Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina, and
12. I have never placed a call to a U.S. Xpress employee
located in Tennessee.
13. I have never spoken on the phone with a U.S. Xpress
employee located in Tennessee.
14. I have never contacted, attempted to contact, or been in
contact with U.S. Xpress regarding the Plaintiff.
15. To my knowledge, I have never contacted a Tennessee
location of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, or even spoken on the
phone with an Enterprise Rent-A-Car employee located in
16. I have not been in Tennessee in over 20 years.
17. I do not personally transact any business in Tennessee.
Riebsame filed a notarized document entitled "Amended
First Counter Affidavit" on August 10, 2018, in which he
Line 4 in the Complaint clearly states the Defendant Brad
Schemel told me personally on the Phone he called Enterprise
and reported the car stolen (see attached email from
Defendant to me), and U.S. Express of Chattanooga, Tennessee
and told them the same. Line 4 also lists the name and phone