United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JOSE MOURA, SR., PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF JOSE MOURA, JR., LORI TURNER, AS PARENT AND NEXT FRIEND OF MINOR PLAITIFFS A.M., C.M., and J.M., LORI TURNER, INDIVIDUALLY PLAINTIFFS,
NEW PRIME, INC. and JOHN DOE, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN PAUL CANNON DEFENDANTS.
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION (Docket No.
New Prime, Inc. (“New Prime”) filed a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pr. 12(b)(2) for lack of
personal jurisdiction. (Docket No. 9). For the reasons that
follow, New Prime's motion is
Prime is a Nebraska trucking corporation with its principal
place of business in Missouri. (Docket No. 10 at 15). It has
terminals in Springfield, Missouri, Salt Lake City, Utah, and
Pittston, Pennsylvania. Id. In Massachusetts, New
Prime has employed between 45 and 60 drivers who have driven
between 7, 821, 068 and 9, 606, 194 miles within the forum in
the last five years. Id. This business has generated
between $1, 467, 732, 381.40 and $1, 908, 780, 325.30 in
revenue annually over that period. Id. at 16.
Importantly, these figures represent only a small portion of
New Prime's business nationally, accounting for less than
one percent of its drivers and revenue and just over one
percent of the total miles driven by company drivers.
Id. at 15-16.
decedent Jose Moura, Jr. (“Mr. Moura”) and his
family lived in Shrewsbury Massachusetts. Over an eight-month
period in 2016, Mr. Moura completed an initial driver
training program at New England Tractor Trailer Training
School (“NETTTS”), a Massachusetts company, to
obtain his Commercial Driver's License. (Turner Decl.
¶ 4). New Prime first contacted Mr. Moura about
potential employment opportunities by sending a recruiter to
the NETTTS Rhode Island campus. Id. ¶ 6.
Further, while Mr. Moura was in Massachusetts, he received
U.S. Mail, emails, and phone calls from New Prime describing
employment and training opportunities with the company.
Id. ¶ 8. New Prime also sent Mr. Moura a
contract to begin its driver training program. Id.
¶ 9. When Mr. Moura accepted this offer, New Prime sent
a document confirming the training contract and purchased a
bus ticket for Mr. Moura to travel from his Massachusetts
home to Pennsylvania in order to begin training. Id.
his arrival in Pennsylvania, Mr. Moura presented New Prime
with his Massachusetts Commercial Driver's License.
Id. ¶ 12. He was then assigned to work with
Defendant John Paul Cannon (“Mr. Cannon”) as his
training driver. Id. ¶ 13. Over the next
several months, Mr. Moura drove within Massachusetts on
behalf of New Prime. Id. ¶ 14. In early
December, Mr. Moura gained the necessary 40, 000 training
miles. Id. ¶ 16. Mr. Moura completed his
training at or near New Prime's Salt Lake City, Utah
terminal, (Docket No. 1 ¶ 21), thus, when he reached New
Prime's Salt Lake City, Utah hub, he was no longer a
trainee. (Turner Decl. ¶ 17). Further, because he had
not yet signed an agreement, he was not employed by New
Prime. Id. Mr. Moura and Mr. Cannon left Salt Lake
City for New Prime's headquarters in Missouri. (Docket
No. 1 ¶ 22). On December 14, while traveling through
Oklahoma, Mr. Cannon struck another tractor-trailer at a high
rate of speed. Id. ¶ 23. Mr. Cannon was killed
in the accident. Mr. Moura was critically injured.
Id. ¶ 25-26. On December 20, Mr. Moura was
placed on a medical flight to Boston for further treatment at
Massachusetts General Hospital. Id. ¶ 28. He
died in transport due to extubation and complications from
his injuries. (Docket No. 17 at 8).
considering a Rule 12(b)(2) motion without an evidentiary
hearing, a district court uses the prima facie standard to
evaluate whether it has personal jurisdiction over the
defendant. Under this 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 v. Prairie Eye
Ctr., 530 F.3d 22, 26 (1st Cir. 2008). The plaintiff
bears the burden of showing that the court may exercise
personal jurisdiction over the defendant and “must put
forward evidence of specific facts to demonstrate that
jurisdiction exists.” A Corp. v. All Am.
Plumbing, 812 F.3d 54, 58 (1st Cir. 2016) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Further, courts
“take the plaintiff's evidentiary proffers as true
and construe them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff's claim.” C.W. Downer & Co. v.
Bioriginal Food & Sci. Cor., 771 F.3d 59, 65 (1st
Cir. 2014). Finally, courts also “consider
uncontradicted facts proffered by the defendant.”
determining whether a non-resident defendant is subject to
its jurisdiction, a federal court exercising diversity
jurisdiction is the functional equivalent of a state court
sitting in the forum state.” Sawtelle v.
Farrell, 70 F.3d 1381, 1387 (1st Cir. 1995). Thus, in
order to establish personal jurisdiction over New Prime, Mr.
Moura must satisfy the requirements of both the Massachusetts
long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. WorldWide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson,
444 U.S. 286, 290 (1980).
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.
See Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 223A, § 3.
Massachusetts courts have held that the long-arm statute
“asserts jurisdiction over the person to the
constitutional limit only when some basis for jurisdiction
enumerated in the statue has been established.”
Good Hope Indus., Inc. v. Ryder Scott Co., 378 Mass.
1, 6 (1979). Therefore, this court is “required to
decline to exercise jurisdiction if the plaintiff [is] unable
to satisfy at least one of the statutory
“courts should consider the long-arm statute first,
before approaching the constitutional question.”
SCVNGR, Inc. v. Punchh, Inc., 478 Mass. 324, 330
(2017). Determining first whether the long-arm statute's
requirements are met is consistent with the duty to avoid
“decid[ing] questions of a constitutional nature unless
absolutely necessary to a decision of the case.”
Burton v. United States, 196 U.S. 283, 295 (1905).
Massachusetts Long-Arm Statute
Massachusetts Long Arm Statue provides, in relevant part:
“A court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a
person, who acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of
action in law or equity arising from the person's
transacting any business in this commonwealth.” Mass.
Gen. Laws ch. 223A, § 3. Thus, New Prime must have
transacted business in the Commonwealth and the
Plaintiffs' claims must have arisen from that transaction
requirement that a defendant transact business in the
Commonwealth “has been construed broadly.”
Tatro v. Manor Care, Inc., 416 Mass. 763, 767 (1994)
(citations omitted). “Although an isolated (and minor)
transaction with a Massachusetts resident may be
insufficient, generally the purposeful and successful
solicitation of business from residents of the Commonwealth,
by a defendant or its agent, will suffice to satisfy this
requirement.” Id. New Prime has satisfied this
jurisdictional precondition. For instance, New Prime has
received permission for 275 large tractor trailers to be
present on roads in Massachusetts to deliver alcohol. (Docket
No. 17 at 5). These trucks have driven 42, 726, 148 miles on
Massachusetts roads and generated $63, 114, 195.99 in revenue
in the last five years. Id. As part of that
business, New Prime hires and trains new drivers. New Prime
has employed 45-60 drivers in Massachusetts over the last
five years. (Docket No. 10 at 15). Through its recruitment
efforts, New Prime attempted to make Mr. Moura another one of
these drivers. Mr. Mora was contacted repeatedly by New Prime
in the Commonwealth by snail-mail, email, and phone calls.
Id. Further, Mr. Moura was sent, and accepted a
contact to begin its driver training program. Id.
¶¶ 9-11. After Mr. Moura accepted the offer, New
Prime purchased a bus ticket so that he could travel to
Pennsylvania. Id. ¶ 11. Mr. Moura then drove
throughout the Commonwealth while completing his training.
Id. ¶ 14. Hiring and training drivers, of
course, is an essential element of New Prime's business
in the Commonwealth and part of its overall transaction of
business in the state.
addition, the Plaintiffs' claims have arisen from the New
Prime's transaction of business in the Commonwealth. In
accordance with the broad construction of the long-arm
statute, the court in Tatro asserted jurisdiction
when a Massachusetts resident was injured at a California
hotel and interpreted the “arising from”
requirement to require only “but for” causation.
416 Mass. at 770 (concluding that “terms such as
‘arising from' . . . should be interpreted as
creating a ‘but for' test. This test permits
jurisdiction in a case [where the transaction of business is]
the first step in a train of events that results in the
personal injury.”). New Prime argues that this
requirement has not been met, but New Prime defines its
transaction of business narrowly. Importantly, New Prime does
not include its contacting and training drivers as part of
its transaction of business in the Commonwealth. I find,
however, that contacting, contracting with, and training Mr.
Moura was part of New Prime's transaction of business in
the Commonwealth. Further, it is clear that but for this
transaction, Plaintiff would not have been harmed. Indeed, it
was the first step in the train of events that led to his
death. Therefore, I find that asserting jurisdiction is
proper under the Massachusetts long-arm statute.