United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JORDAN ROY, ANGEL SULLIVAN-BLAKE, and JUSTIN TRUMBULL, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
FEDEX GROUND PACKAGE SYSTEM, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT FEDEX
GROUND'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DKT. NO. 15)
KATHERINE A. ROBERTSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
putative collective action, the plaintiffs, Jordan Roy
(“Roy”), Angel Sullivan-Blake
(“Sullivan-Blake”), and Justin Trumbull
“Plaintiffs”), each assert a single claim against
the defendant, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.
(“Defendant” or “FedEx Ground”), for
unpaid overtime pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1) (Dkt. No.
1). Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss for want of
personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) (Dkt.
No. 15). For the following reasons, the court grants FedEx
Ground's motion to dismiss as to Sullivan-Blake's
claim, but denies it as to Roy's and Trumbull's
Standard of Review
is axiomatic that, ‘[t]o hear a case, a court must have
personal jurisdiction over the parties, “that is, the
power to require the parties to obey its
decrees.”'” Hannon v. Beard, 524
F.3d 275, 279 (1st Cir. 2008) (alteration in original)
(quoting Daynard v. Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson
& Poole, P.A., 290 F.3d 42, 50 (1st Cir. 2002)).
When faced with a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), a plaintiff bears
the burden of proving that the defendant is subject to the
jurisdiction of the court. Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC
v. Alpenrose Dairy, Inc., 825 F.3d 28, 34 (1st Cir.
2016) (citing Adelson v. Hananel, 510 F.3d 43, 48
(1st Cir. 2007)); Daynard, 290 F.3d at 50 (citing
Foster-Miller, Inc. v. Babcock & Wilcox Canada,
46 F.3d 138, 145 (1st Cir. 1995); Boit v. Gar-Tec Prods.,
Inc., 967 F.2d 671, 674-75 (1st Cir. 1992)). While a
“district court ‘may choose from among several
methods for determining whether the plaintiff has met [its]
burden, '” Phillips v. Prairie Eye Ctr.,
530 F.3d 22, 26 (1st Cir. 2008) (alteration in original)
(quoting Adelson, 510 F.3d at 48), when no
evidentiary hearing is held, as in this case, the
“prima facie” standard applies. United States
v. Swiss Am. Bank, Ltd., 274 F.3d 610, 618 (1st Cir.
2001) (Swiss Am. Bank II) (citing United Elec.
Radio & Mach. Workers of Am. v. 163 Pleasant St.
Corp., 987 F.2d 39, 43 (1st Cir. 1993) (Pleasant St.
II); Boit, 967 F.2d at 675). “Under the
prima facie standard, the inquiry is whether the plaintiff
has proffered evidence which, if credited, is sufficient to
support findings of all facts essential to personal
jurisdiction.” Phillips, 530 F.3d at 26
(citing Daynard, 290 F.3d at 51). “It is not
enough for [a plaintiff] to ‘rely on unsupported
allegations in [its] pleadings.'” A Corp. v.
All Am. Plumbing, Inc., 812 F.3d 54, 58 (1st Cir. 2016)
(second alteration in original) (quoting Platten v. HG
Bermuda Exempted Ltd., 437 F.3d 118, 134 (1st Cir.
2006)). “Rather, [the plaintiff] must put forward
‘evidence of specific facts' to demonstrate that
jurisdiction exists.” Id. (quoting
Platten, 437 F.3d at 134). The court “must
accept [the plaintiff's] properly documented evidentiary
proffers as true and construe them in the light most
favorable to [the plaintiff's] jurisdictional
claim.” Id. (citing Phillips,
530 F.3d at 26). Applying this standard to the instant case,
the relevant facts are as follows.
Ground, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of
business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a business engaged
in business and residential ground package delivery services.
FedEx Ground provides ground service to 100% of the
continental United States population. In 2016, FedEx Ground
had revenues in excess of $16 billion.
Roy and Trumbull are both residents of Massachusetts, while
Sullivan-Blake is a resident of Texas. FedEx Ground employed
Plaintiffs as full-time delivery drivers through intermediary
entities that FedEx Ground calls “independent service
providers, ” or “ISPs.” Roy worked for
FedEx Ground from February 2015 to January 2017. Trumbull
worked for FedEx Ground from late 2015 to February 2017.
Sullivan-Blake began working for FedEx Ground in November
2015 and continues to do so.
delivery drivers for FedEx Ground, Plaintiffs had to report
each morning to a FedEx Ground terminal to pick up the
packages that they would be responsible for delivering that
day. Roy and Trumbull both reported to a FedEx Ground
terminal located in Chicopee, Massachusetts, while
Sullivan-Blake reported at different periods to FedEx Ground
terminals located in Webster, Sugar Land, and North Houston,
Texas. Between thirty and sixty other delivery drivers
reported to the Chicopee terminal each day. The Texas
terminals are significantly larger, with at least 1, 000
other delivery drivers reporting each day.
of the FedEx Ground terminals to which Plaintiffs reported,
package handlers employed by FedEx Ground would set out the
FedEx Ground packages that each driver was assigned to
deliver that day. FedEx Ground required Plaintiffs to use a
special scanner to scan each package as they loaded it onto
their respective trucks. While loading packages in the
mornings at the Chicopee facility, Trumbull observed a FedEx
Ground manager regularly walk the floor to supervise his and
the other delivery drivers' work to ensure that they were
properly loading FedEx Ground packages and that they met
FedEx Ground's uniform and appearance requirements. Some
mornings, FedEx Ground packages that were assigned to a
particular Plaintiff for delivery would be missing and could
not be scanned. When this occurred, the Plaintiff in question
was not permitted to leave the FedEx Ground terminal until a
FedEx Ground manager either found the missing package or gave
the Plaintiff permission to leave without it. FedEx Ground
required Plaintiffs to scan each package upon delivery as
well and to enter a code for each type of delivery. FedEx
Ground required that certain packages only be delivered with
the customer's signature. Roy and Trumbull frequently
received calls from FedEx Ground managers while they were out
making deliveries with changes to delivery instructions, such
as to deliver a package to a different address. At times, a
FedEx Ground manager would require Roy or Trumbull to return
to the FedEx Ground terminal in Chicopee to pick up an extra
package for delivery.
were eligible to receive overtime and regularly worked over
forty hours per week delivering packages for FedEx Ground.
Yet, Plaintiffs were not paid time-and-a-half their regular
rate for those hours.
federal question case, “the constitutional limits of
the court's personal jurisdiction are fixed, in the first
instance, not by the Fourteenth Amendment but by the Due
Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” United
Elec., Radio & Mach. Workers of Am. v. 163 Pleasant St.
Corp., 960 F.2d 1080, 1085 (1st Cir. 1992) (Pleasant
St. I) (citing Lorelei Corp. v. Cty. of
Guadalupe, 940 F.2d 717, 719 (1st Cir. 1991);
Whistler Corp. v. Solar Elecs., Inc., 684 F.Supp.
1126, 1128 (D. Mass. 1988)). “[U]nder the Fifth
Amendment, a plaintiff need only show that the defendant has
adequate contacts with the United States as a whole, rather
than with a particular state.” Swiss Am. Bank
II, 274 F.3d at 618 (citing Pleasant St. I, 960
F.2d at 1085). Because FedEx Ground is incorporated and
maintains its principal place of business in the United
States, it cannot be gainsaid that FedEx Ground has
sufficient minimum contacts with the United States to satisfy
the due process standard of the Fifth Amendment.
inquiry does not end there, however. “The next step is
to determine whether the nationwide scope of personal
jurisdiction in a federal question case is limited by Rule 4
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Pike v.
Clinton Fishpacking, Inc., 143 F.Supp.2d 162, 166 (D.
Mass. 2001). This is so because, “[b]efore a federal
court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant in
a federal question case, there must be authorization for
service of summons on the defendant.” Id.
(citing Omni Capital Int'l, Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff
& Co., Ltd., 484 U.S. 97, 104 (1987)). See also
Swiss Am. Bank II, 274 F.3d at 618 (noting that
“the plaintiff must still ground its service of process
in a federal statute or civil rule” (citing
Pleasant St. I, 960 F.2d at 1085)). “In other
words, though personal jurisdiction and service of process
are distinguishable, they are inextricably intertwined, since
service of process constitutes the vehicle by which the court
obtains jurisdiction.” Pleasant St. I, 960
F.2d at 1085 (citing Lorelei, 940 F.2d at 719 n.1;
cf. Robertson v. R.R. Labor Bd., 268 U.S. 619, 622
(1925) (a federal court cannot acquire personal jurisdiction
over a defendant unless the defendant is properly served with
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1), service of process establishes
personal jurisdiction over a defendant ‘who is subject
to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the
state where the district court is located, ' or
‘when authorized by federal statute.'”
Medici v. Lifespan Corp., 239 F.Supp.3d 355, 367 (D.
Mass. 2017) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A), (C)).
Accordingly, this court can only exercise jurisdiction over
FedEx Ground if it would be subject to the jurisdiction of
Massachusetts courts or if the federal statute conferring
subject matter jurisdiction provides for nationwide service
of process. Id. (citing Lorelei, 940 F.2d
at 719-20 (discussing former language of Rule 4(e) and (f),
which imposed the same limitations relevant here)). The FLSA
does not authorize nationwide service of
process. Aviles v. Kunkle, 978 F.2d 201,
203-04 (5th Cir. 1992); Nicks v. Koch Meat Co.,
Inc., No. 16-cv-6446, 2016 WL 6277489, at *3 (N.D. Ill.
Oct. 27, 2016); McCarthy v. Waxy's Keene, LLC,
No. 16-cv-122-JD, 2016 WL 4250290, at *2 n.1 (D.N.H. Aug. 10,
2016); Senne v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp.,
105 F.Supp.3d 981, 1014 (N.D. Cal. 2015); Blume v.
Int'l Servs., Inc., No. 4:12 CV 165 DDN, 2012 WL
1957419, at *8 (E.D. Mo. May 31, 2012); Wang v.
Schroeter, No. 11-10009-RWZ, 2011 WL 6148579, at *4 n.12
(D. Mass. Dec. 9, 2011); Kouba v. Renzenberger,
Inc., No. CIV 10-159 TUC FRZ (GEE), 2010 WL 5342964, at
*1 (D. Ariz. May 14, 2010); Langlois v.
Déjà Vu, Inc., 984 F.Supp. 1327, 1333
(W.D. Wash. 1997); Astorga v. Connleaf, Inc., 962
F.Supp. 93, 95 (W.D. Tex. 1996). Accordingly, notwithstanding
that this is a federal question case, the court must look to
the law of Massachusetts to determine whether the court may
assert jurisdiction over FedEx Ground. See Medici,
239 F.Supp.3d at 367 (citing Pleasant St. I, 960
F.2d at 1086); Pike, 143 F.Supp.2d at 166. See
also Baskin-Robbins, 825 F.3d at 34 n.2 (noting that,
for purposes of analyzing personal jurisdiction, through
operation of Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A), the role of a federal
court in a federal question case is the same as in a
Massachusetts, a court may exercise personal jurisdiction
over a foreign defendant if such jurisdiction is authorized
by state statute and its exercise does not offend
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Pike, 143 F.Supp.2d at 166 (citing Tatro v.
Manor Care, Inc., 625 N.E.2d 549, 551 (Mass. 1994)).
See also Pleasant St. I, 960 F.2d at 1086
(“[B]ecause state law is subject to Fourteenth
Amendment limitations, the minimum contacts doctrine, while
imposing no direct state-by-state constraint on a federal
court in a federal question case, acts indirectly as a
governing mechanism for the exercise of personal
jurisdiction.” (citing Lorelei, 940 F.2d at
720)). The First Circuit has “sometimes treated the
limits of Massachusetts's long-arm statute [Mass. Gen.
Laws ch. 223A, § 3] as coextensive with those of the Due
Process Clause, ” Copia Commc'ns, LLC v.
AMResorts, L.P., 812 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2016) (citing
Daynard, 290 F.3d at 52), and, therefore, has
sidestepped the statutory inquiry and proceeded directly to
the constitutional analysis. Daynard, 290 F.3d at
52. More recently, however, the court has “suggested
that Massachusetts's long-arm statute might impose more
restrictive limits on the exercise of personal jurisdiction
than does the Constitution, ” thereby creating a
“possible tension” in its precedent. Copia
Commc'ns, 812 F.3d at 4 (citing Cossart v.
United Excel Corp., 804 F.3d 13, 18-19 (1st Cir. 2015)).
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts resolved this
tension in SCVNGR, Inc. v. Punchh, Inc., 85 N.E.3d
50 (Mass. 2017), declaring that the long-arm statute's
reach is not coextensive with what due process allows.
Id. at 56 n.9. Moreover, “[b]ecause the
long-arm statute imposes specific constraints on the exercise
of personal jurisdiction that are not coextensive with the
parameters of due process, and in order to avoid unnecessary
consideration of constitutional questions, a determination
under the long-arm statute is to precede consideration of the
constitutional question.” Id. at 52 (citing
Morrill v. Tong, 453 N.E.2d 1221, 1230 (Mass.
1983)). Thus, following SCVNGR, to establish
personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must first show that the
Massachusetts long-arm statute grants jurisdiction, and then,
if it does, that the exercise of jurisdiction under the
statute is consistent with the Constitution. See Access
Now, Inc. v. Otter Prods., LLC, 280 F.Supp.3d 287, 291
(D. Mass. 2017) (rejecting plaintiff's argument that the
reach of the Massachusetts long-arm statute is coextensive
with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and
beginning the personal jurisdiction analysis by considering
whether the requirements of the long-arm statute were
satisfied). See also Bearse v. Main Street Invs.,
170 F.Supp.2d 107, 113 (D. Mass. 2001) (“‘Where a
plaintiff is clearly unable to establish jurisdiction as a
matter of state law, it is the better practice to end the
inquiry without addressing constitutional
concerns.'” (quoting Noonan v. Winston
Co., 902 F.Supp. 298, 306 n. 12 (D. Mass. 1995));
Boyd v. Ariz. State Bd. of Dental Examiners, Civ. A.
No. 88-1560-MA, 1989 WL 37309, at *2 (D. Mass. Apr. 4, 1989)
(“Only after it is determined that the long-arm statute
is satisfied does a court consider whether the second
obstacle has been overcome; that is, whether the plaintiffs
have demonstrated that the exercise of personal jurisdiction
is consistent with the basic constitutional requirement of
due process.” (citing Ealing Corp. v. Harrods,
Ltd., 790 F.2d 978, 983 (1st Cir. 1986); Gray v.
O'Brien, 777 F.2d 864, 866-67 (1st Cir. 1985);
Carlson Corp. v. Univ. of Vt., 402 N.E.2d 483, 485
(Mass. 1980); Good Hope Indus., Inc. v. Ryder Scott
Co., 389 N.E.2d 76, 79 (Mass. 1979)). This is in keeping
with the “‘long-standing principle of judicial
restraint . . . that courts avoid reaching constitutional
questions in advance of the necessity of deciding
them.'” Sony BMG Music Entm't v.
Tenenbaum, 660 F.3d 487, 511 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting
Lyng v. Nw. Indian Cemetery Protective Ass'n,
485 U.S. 439, 445 (1988)). See also SCVNGR, 85
N.E.3d at 56 (“[I]t is canonical that courts should,
where possible, avoid unnecessary constitutional
decisions.” (citing Commonwealth v. Guzman, 14
N.E.3d 946, 954 (Mass. 2014)). Thus, while neither Plaintiffs
nor Defendant has addressed the applicability of the
Massachusetts long-arm statute, the court must assess whether
the exercise of personal jurisdiction meets the statutory
requirements before reaching the constitutional dimension of
The Massachusetts Long-Arm Statute
Massachusetts long-arm statute enumerates eight specific
grounds on which a nonresident defendant may be subjected to
personal jurisdiction by a court of the Commonwealth.”
SCVNGR, 85 N.E.3d at 55 (citing Mass. Gen. Laws ch.
223A, § 3). Only three of those grounds bear any
possible applicability to the facts presented. In relevant
part, the Massachusetts long-arm statute provides that:
A court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, who
acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action in law