United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION (DOCKET NO.
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ouellette (“Plaintiff”) brought this claim for
breach of contract and tortious interference with an
advantageous business relationship. Defendant moves to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). For the reasons below, Defendant's
motion (Docket No. 15) is denied.
derive our summary of the factual background from
Plaintiff's evidentiary proffers and from Defendant's
undisputed proffers. Copia Communications, LLC v.
Amresorts, L.P., 812 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2016).
about August 9, 2017, Plaintiff spoke on the phone with Raj
Dubey, President of True Penny about a potential job for True
Penny's “Maine project.” On or about August
14, 2017, they spoke again, and Mr. Dubey extended Plaintiff
a job offer, which Plaintiff immediately accepted. Mr. Dubey
then requested that Plaintiff send copies of his passport and
social security card to initiate the hiring process.
Plaintiff emailed copies of the documents and, in that email,
memorialized Mr. Dubey's offer.
Plaintiff accepted Mr. Dubey's offer, he notified his
employer that he would be resigning from his position to take
the job with True Penny. Thereafter, however, the
relationship soured, and Plaintiff never worked for True
Penny. The reasons that the relationship deteriorated are
irrelevant to the jurisdictional question presented.
times, Plaintiff was a citizen of Massachusetts and all his
communication with True Penny occurred from the Commonwealth.
According to Plaintiff, both parties had the expectation that
at least some of his work for the “Maine project”
would be done from his home in Massachusetts.
Penny is a Florida corporation. True Penny asserts that it
has never performed any work in Massachusetts, serviced any
Massachusetts-based clients, and has not registered to do
business in the Commonwealth.
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 Defendant,
Plaintiff 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, 100 S.Ct. 559 (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, 378 N.E.2d 76 (1979). Therefore, this court is
“required to decline to exercise jurisdiction if the
plaintiff [is] unable to satisfy at least one of the
statutory prerequisites.” Id.
“courts should consider the long-arm statute first,
before approaching the constitutional question.”
SCVNGR, Inc. v. Punchh, Inc., 478 Mass. 324, 330, 85
N.E.3d 50 (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, 25 S.Ct. 243 (1905).