United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION
Gail Dein United States Magistrate Judge
plaintiff, Robert Harnish, is a resident of Massachusetts. He
has brought this action against Mark E. Crook, a resident of
Rhode Island, claiming that he sustained severe personal
injuries as a result of a boating accident that occurred on
September 20, 2014. Harnish contends that he was operating
his kayak off of the coast of Rhode Island when he was struck
by a Boston Whaler being operated by Crook. Harnish has
brought this action pursuant to the court's admiralty
jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1333, alleging that Crook was
negligent, among other related claims.
matter is presently before the court on “Defendant Mark
E. Crook's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Complaint.” (Docket No. 6). Therein, Crook seeks to
dismiss the complaint against him pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons
detailed herein, the motion is ALLOWED.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
of the Record
a motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction, the
plaintiff ultimately bears the burden of persuading the court
that jurisdiction exists.” Astro-Med, Inc. v. Nihon
Kohden Am., Inc., 591 F.3d 1, 8 (1st Cir. 2009), and
cases cited. “When a district court rules on a motion
to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without holding
an evidentiary hearing, as in this case, the ‘prima
facie' standard governs its determination.”
United States v. Swiss Am. Bank, Ltd., 274 F.3d 610,
618 (1st Cir. 2001). Under this standard, a plaintiff must
“demonstrate the existence of every fact required to
satisfy both the forum's long-arm statute and the Due
Process Clause of the Constitution.” Id.
(citation omitted). Thus, to meet his burden in this case,
Harnish must “proffer evidence which, taken at face
value, suffices to show all facts essential to personal
jurisdiction.” Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC v.
Alpenrose Dairy, Inc., 825 F.3d 28, 34 (1st Cir. 2016).
The court will “take the facts from the pleadings and
whatever supplemental filings (such as affidavits) are
contained in the record, giving credence to the
plaintiff's version of genuinely contested facts.”
Id. It will “then add to the mix facts put
forward by the defendants, to the extent that they are
uncontradicted.” N. Laminate Sales, Inc. v.
Davis, 403 F.3d 14, 24 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting
Mass. Sch. of Law v. ABA, 142 F.3d 26, 34 (1st Cir.
instant case the record consists of the complaint and a copy
of the registration for the Boston Whaler, which is attached
to the defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 6-2).
The plaintiff has not submitted any additional facts relating
to the issue of personal jurisdiction, and in his opposition
to the motion to dismiss he “takes no position”
on whether this court has jurisdiction over the Rhode Island
defendant. (See Docket No. 12).
plaintiff, Harnish, is a resident of Gloucester,
Massachusetts. (Complaint (Docket No. 1)
(“Compl.”) ¶ 1). He owns and operates a 16
foot kayak. (Id.). The defendant, Crook, is a
resident of Narragansett, Rhode Island. (Id. ¶
2). Crook owns and operates a 26 foot Boston Whaler that is
registered in Rhode Island. (Id.; Docket No. 6-2).
The two boats collided on the morning of September 20, 2014
in “international navigable water” off the coast
of Rhode Island. (Id. ¶¶ 3-4). The
plaintiff sustained serious personal injuries. (Id.
¶ 4). There is no evidence that the defendant has any
contacts with Massachusetts.
this is an admiralty case, “the personal jurisdiction
analysis includes a twist not present in diversity cases,
although ultimately there is no practical difference in the
way in which the Court proceeds towards its
determination.” Zeus Projects Ltd. v. Perez y Cia.
de P.R., Inc., 187 F.R.D. 23, 28 (D.P.R. 1999). Thus,
“where a federal court's subject matter
jurisdiction is based on admiralty or a federal question,
” as in the instant case, “the court's
jurisdiction over parties is national in scope” and the
Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and not the
Fourteenth Amendment, controls. Id.; see also
Pike v. Clinton Fishpacking, Inc., 143 F.Supp.2d 162,
166 (D. Mass. 2001). “Under the Fifth Amendment, a
court may exercise general or specific jurisdiction over an
out-of-state defendant only if that defendant has
‘certain minimum contacts with [the forum state] such
that the maintenance of the suit does not offend tradetional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.'”
Copia Commc'ns, LLC v. AMResorts, L.P., 812 F.3d
1, 4 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90
L.Ed. 95 (1945)) (alteration in original; additional
punctuation and citation omitted). Moreover, under both
general and specific jurisdiction, “the defendant's
contacts with the state must be purposeful.” Harlow
v. Children's Hosp., 432 F.3d 50, 57 (1st Cir.
2005). Here, the plaintiff has not established that the
defendant had any contacts with Massachusetts.
general jurisdiction, in which the cause of action may be
unrelated to the defendant's contacts, the defendant must
have continuous and systematic contacts with the
state.” Id. As noted above, there is no
evidence that the defendant had any contacts with
Massachusetts, much less “continuous and
systematic” contacts. Consequently, there is no general
jurisdiction over Crook.
purposes of the specific jurisdiction analysis, the First
Circuit has “broken the minimum contacts analysis into
three categories-relatedness, purposeful availment, and
reasonableness[.]” Adelson v. Hananel, 510