United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
H. Mays, Jr. United States District Judge.
Kelsie Branstetter brings claims for negligence,
unseaworthiness, and failure to pay maintenance and
under general maritime law and the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.
§ 30104. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is
Defendant Holland America Line N.V.'s (“HAL”)
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction, filed October 4,
2019. (ECF No. 15.) Branstetter responded on October 30,
2019. (ECF No. 21.) HAL replied on November 13, 2019. (ECF
following reasons, the Court lacks personal jurisdiction and
TRANSFERS this action to the United States District Court for
the Western District of Washington.
March 2017, Branstetter was a seaman employed as an Image
Creator (photographer) on board a cruise ship, the MS
NOORDAM. (Compl., ECF No. 1 ¶ 9.) Sometime between March
16 and March 19, 2017, while descending a staircase in the
dining room of the MS NOORDAM, Branstetter fell and sustained
injuries. (Id.) In May 2017, after working long
hours on the MS NOORDAM, Branstetter sustained other injuries
to her foot. (Id. ¶ 10.) These incidents left
Branstetter with injuries to her lower back, left leg, left
ankle, and left foot. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 10, 17.)
On May 21, 2017, as a result of her injuries, Branstetter was
declared medically unfit for duty and was sent home to
Memphis, Tennessee, for medical treatment. (ECF No. 21-1
¶ 8.) During Branstetter's employment with HAL, HAL
arranged and paid for all of her travel to and from Memphis,
Tennessee. (Id. at ¶ 15.) HAL also made
Branstetter's travel arrangements and paid for her
travel- related expenses on her return home to Tennessee
after she had been declared medically unfit. (Id.
Branstetter's medical treatment for her relevant injuries
has been in Tennessee. (Id. ¶ 10.) HAL has
selected every medical provider who has treated Branstetter
for her injuries, with the exception of her current treating
physician, Dr. Dean Jameson, who was selected by Branstetter
but approved by HAL. (Id. ¶ 12.) HAL has paid
for all of the medical treatment Branstetter has received.
(Id. ¶ 11.)
NOORDAM is registered under the laws of the Netherlands. (ECF
No. 15-1 ¶ 4.) The MS NOORDAM sails primarily in
international waters and has never sailed in the waters of
the operator of the MS NOORDAM. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 2, 4;
No. 15-1 ¶ 4.) HAL is a company organized under the laws
of Curacao. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 3; No. 15-1 ¶ 3.)
HAL's corporate office is in Seattle, Washington. (ECF
No. 1 ¶ 3; No. 15-1 ¶ 6.) HAL is authorized to do
business and has a registered agent for service of process in
Tennessee. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 3; No. 15-1 ¶ 5.) HAL sells
cruises to residents of all 50 states. (ECF No. 15-1 ¶
5.) Decisions about the issuance of maintenance and cure are
made at HAL's corporate headquarters in Seattle,
Washington. (Id. ¶ 6.)
Standard of Review
moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). (ECF No. 15.)
Neither party contests the Court's subject-matter
defendant challenges personal jurisdiction under Rule
12(b)(2), “[t]he plaintiff bears the burden of making a
prima facie showing of the court's personal jurisdiction
over the defendant.” Intera Corp. v.
Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 615 (6th Cir. 2005). A
plaintiff “can meet this burden by ‘establishing
with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between [a
defendant] and the forum state to support
jurisdiction.'” Neogen Corp. v. Neo Gen
Screening, Inc., 282 F.3d 883, 887 (6th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Provident Nat'l Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. Loan
Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 437 (3d Cir. 1987)). A
plaintiff may not rest on her pleadings, but must, by
affidavit or otherwise, set forth specific evidence
supporting jurisdiction. Carrier Corp. v. Outokumpu
Oyj, 673 F.3d 430, 449 (6th Cir. 2012). Because the
Court is relying solely on written submissions and affidavits
to resolve this Motion, Branstetter's burden to establish
a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction is
“relatively slight.” Air Prods. &
Controls, Inc. v. Safetech Int'l, Inc., 503 F.3d
544, 549 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Am. Greetings Corp. v.
Cohn, 839 F.2d 1164, 1169 (6th Cir. 1988)). The Court
construes the facts in the light most favorable to
Branstetter. See id. (citing Theunissen v.
Matthews, 935 F.2d 1454, 1459 (6th Cir. 1991)).
considering a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2), a federal court looks first
to the long-arm statute of the state in which it sits to
determine the state's limitations on personal
jurisdiction. See Aristech Chem. Int'l Ltd. v.
Acrylic Fabricators, Ltd., 138 F.3d 624, 627 (6th Cir.
1998). The court then assesses whether the exercise of
personal jurisdiction, if any, would be appropriate under the
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
4(k)(1)(A); see Bird v. Parsons, 289 F.3d 865, 871
(6th Cir. 2002); CompuServe, Inc. v. Patterson, 89
F.3d 1257, 1262 (6th Cir. 1996).
jurisdictional limits of Tennessee law and federal due
process are identical. See Parker v. Winwood, 938
F.3d 833, 839 (6th Cir. 2019); First Cmty. Bank, N.A. v.
First Tenn. Bank, N.A., 489 S.W.3d 369, 384 (Tenn.
2015); Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-2-223(a)(6). The Court need
only decide whether exercising personal jurisdiction over HAL
is consistent with federal due process requirements.
Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Still N the Water
Publ'g, 327 F.3d 472, 477 (6th Cir. 2003).
Process Clause requires that a non-resident defendant have at
least “certain minimum contacts with [the forum state]
such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend
‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.'” Youn v. Track, Inc., 324 F.3d
409, 417 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). “There are
two kinds of personal jurisdiction within the Federal Due
Process inquiry: (1) general personal jurisdiction, where the
suit does not arise from defendant's contacts with the
forum state; and (2) specific jurisdiction, where the suit
does arise from the defendant's contacts with the forum
state.” Conn v. Zakharov, 667 F.3d 705, 712-13
(6th Cir. 2012).
jurisdiction allows a plaintiff to sue a defendant “on
any and all claims, ” regardless of the connection (or
lack thereof) between the claim and the forum. Maxitrate
Tratamento Termico E Controles v. Super Sys., Inc., 617
Fed.Appx. 406, 408 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014)). Specific
jurisdiction “exposes the defendant to suit in the
forum state only on claims that arise out of or relate to a
defendant's contacts with the forum.” Kerry
Steel, Inc. v. Paragon Indus., Inc., 106 F.3d 147, 149
(6th Cir. 1997) (quoting Helicopteros Nacionales de
Colombia S.A v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-15 & nn.8-10
may assert general jurisdiction over a defendant and hear any
and all claims against it when its connections with the forum
state are so “continuous and systematic” as to
render it essentially “at home” in the forum
state. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (citing Int'l
Shoe, 326 U.S. at 317). A corporation's principal
place of business and place of incorporation are
“paradigm . . . bases for general jurisdiction.”
Daimler, 571 U.S. at 137 (internal citations and
alteration omitted). Daimler and Goodyear
brought a “sea change” to the general
jurisdiction analysis. BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, 137
S.Ct. 1549, 1560 n.1 (2017) (Sotomayor, J., concurring in
part and dissenting in part); see also Glob. Force
Entm't, Inc. v. Anthem Sports & Entm't
Corp., 385 F.Supp.3d 576, 581-82 (M.D. Tenn. 2019)
(discussing change in depth), appeal denied, decision
amended, No. 3:18-CV-00749, 2019 WL 3288474 (M.D. Tenn.
July 22, 2019). Since Daimler, there must be an
“exceptional case” for a court to assert general
jurisdiction over a corporation in a forum “other than
its formal place of incorporation or principal place of
business . . . .” 571 U.S. at 139 n.19.
parties agree that HAL is a company organized under the laws
of Curacao, (ECF No. 1 ¶ 3; No. 15-1 ¶ 3), and that
HAL's principal place of business is in Washington. (ECF
No. 1 ¶ 3; No. 15-1 ¶ 3.) The Court does not have
general jurisdiction over HAL on those “paradigm
argues alternatively that HAL made itself “at
home” in Tennessee by: (1) recruiting, hiring, and
employing Tennessee residents to sell its cruises in
Tennessee;(2) forming and maintaining ongoing
business relationships in Tennessee; (3) being authorized to do
business and having a registered agent in
Tennessee; (4) selling cruises to Tennessee
residents; (5) making and paying for all of Branstetter's
travel arrangements and travel-related expenses to and from
Tennessee throughout her employment with HAL; (6) selecting
Branstetter's medical professionals and making decisions
about her medical ...