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Vysedskiy v. Onshift, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 29, 2017

ANDRE VYSEDSKIY, Plaintiff,
v.
ONSHIFT, INC, ET AL. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          WOLF, D.J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Andre Vysedskiy alleges that he received unsolicited telephone calls from defendant OnShift, Inc.'s ("OnShift's") software, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 476 U.S.C. §227, et seq. (the "TCPA"). On October 25, 2016, he filed this case against OnShift and ten unidentified "Doe" defendants, OnShift's customers who purchased the software and "may be responsible for the calls placed to plaintiff." Compl. at ¶5. OnShift moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Northern District of Ohio pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1404(a).

         As explained below, plaintiff has not established that OnShift has the "minimum contacts" with Massachusetts necessary to exercise personal jurisdiction over it. However, plaintiff's allegations, coupled with the affidavits submitted in connection with the motion to dismiss, support a colorable claim that jurisdiction exists. Therefore, the court is denying the motion without prejudice to a renewed motion after limited discovery concerning the issue of specific personal jurisdiction.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

         When the court's personal jurisdiction over a defendant is challenged, the plaintiff bears the burden to establish that jurisdiction exists. See Adams v. Adams, 601 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2010). Three methods exist for determining whether the plaintiff has met its burden at the motion to dismiss stage. See Foster-Miller, Inc. v. Babcock & Wilcox Canada, 46 F.3d 138, 145 (1st Cir. 1995). The "prima facie" method is most appropriate in cases in which the parties have not presented conflicting versions of the facts. See Nowak v. Tak How Investments, Ltd., 94 F.3d 708, 712 (1st Cir. 1996).

         To make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction, the plaintiff "cannot rest upon the pleadings but is obliged to adduce evidence of specific facts." Foster-Miller, 46 F.3d at 145; Boit v. Gar-Tec Products, Inc., 967 F.2d 671, 675 (1st Cir. 1992) (" [P]laintiffs may not rely on unsupported allegations in their pleadings to make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction."). The court must "consider...whether the plaintiff has proffered evidence that, if credited, is enough to support findings of all facts essential to personal jurisdiction." Foster-Miller, 46 F.3d at 145. The court accepts the plaintiff's proffered and properly documented facts as true "irrespective of whether the defendant disputes them, and in so doing, construe[s] them in the light most congenial to the plaintiff's jurisdictional claim." Adelson v. Hananel, 510 F.3d 43, 48 (1st Cir. 2007). "Those facts put forward by the defendant become part of the mix only to the extent that they are uncontradicted." Id.

         The prima facie method "offers little assistance in closer, harder-to-call cases, particularly those that feature conflicting versions of the facts." Foster-Miller, 46 F.3d at 145. Where it is inappropriate to use the prima facie standard, courts may use the "preponderance standard" or the "likelihood standard." See Foster-Miller, 46 F.3d at 145-47. In using the preponderance standard, a court conducts fact-finding "in the traditional way, taking evidence and measuring the plaintiff's jurisdictional showing against a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard." Foster-Miller, 46 F.3d at 145. The "likelihood standard" is an intermediate standard. See Boit, 967 F.2d at 677. In applying this standard, a court conducts an evidentiary hearing and weighs the evidence but makes findings limited to "whether the plaintiff has shown a likelihood of the existence of each fact necessary to support personal jurisdiction." Id.; see Foster-Miller, 46 F.3d at 146. In contrast, when the court "applies the prima facie standard and denies the motion to dismiss, it is implicitly, if not explicitly, ordering 'that hearing and determination [of the motion to dismiss] be deferred until the trial.1" Boit, 967 F.2d at 676.

         B. JURISDICTIONAL DISCOVERY

         "A diligent plaintiff who sues an out-of-state corporation and who makes out a colorable case for the existence of in. personam jurisdiction may...be entitled to a modicum of jurisdictional discovery if the corporation interposes a jurisdictional defense." United States v. Swiss Am. Bank, Ltd., 274 F.3d 610, 625 (1st Cir. 2001). The "diligence" prong "includes the obligation to present facts to the court which show why jurisdiction would be found if discovery were permitted." Id. at 626. The "colorable" standard requires some showing that discovery is needed or likely to be useful. See Dynamic Image Techs., Inc. v. United States, 221 F.3d 34, 38 (1st Cir.2000). However, "even when the plaintiff has been diligent and has made a colorable claim for personal jurisdiction, the district court still has broad discretion to decide whether discovery is required." Swiss Am. Bank, 274 F.3d at 625-26. Nevertheless, "courts generally will grant jurisdictional discovery if the plaintiff can show that the factual record is at least ambiguous or unclear on the jurisdiction issue." In re Testosterone Replacement Therapy Prod. Liab. Litig. Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings, 136 F.Supp.3d 968, 973 (N.D. 111. 2015)

         C. PERSONAL JURISDICTION

         A federal district court may exercise personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants to the same extent as a state court in the state in which the district court is located. See Daynard v. Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole, P.A., 290 F.3d 42, 51 (1st Cir. 2002). Massachusetts courts have personal jurisdiction over non-residents only if jurisdiction comports with Due Process and is permitted by a Massachusetts statute, such as the long-arm statute, Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 223A, §3. See Bulldog Investors Gen. P'ship v. Sec'y of the Commonwealth, 457 Mass. 210, 215 (2010).

         The First Circuit recently stated that "the Massachusetts long-arm statute might impose more restrictive limits on the exercise of personal jurisdiction than does the Constitution, " Copia Communications, LLC v. AMResorts, L.P., 812 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2016).[1] Among other things, Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 223A, §3 authorizes personal jurisdiction over "a person, who acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action. • .arising from the persons...transacting any business in [Massachusetts]." For jurisdiction to exist under this portion of the Massachusetts statute, "the facts must satisfy two requirements-the defendant must have transacted business in Massachusetts, and the plaintiff's claim must have arisen from the transaction of business by the defendant." Tatro v. Manor Care, Inc., 416 Mass. 763, 769-71 (1994); see also Evans Cabinet Corp. v. Kitchen Int'l, Inc., 593 F.3d 135, 146 (1st Cir. 2010).

         "The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that a defendant have 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." Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC v. Alpenrose Dairy, Inc., 825 F.3d 28, 35 (1st Cir. 2016)(quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). This requirement "protects an individual's liberty interest in not being subject to the binding judgments of a forum with which he has established no meaningful 'contacts, ties, or relations.'" Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 471-72 (1985) (citing Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 319). "By requiring that individuals have 'fair warning that a particular activity may subject [them] to the jurisdiction of a foreign sovereign, ' the Due Process Clause '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.1" Id. (citing Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 218 (1977); World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 ...


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