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Casey v. 3M Corp.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 12, 2019

JAMES T. CASEY, JR., Plaintiff,


          Denise J. Casper United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff James T. Casey, Jr. (“Casey”), proceeding pro se, has filed the instant lawsuit against Defendants 3M Company (“3M”), which is incorrectly identified as 3M Corporation in the operative complaint, and Apax Partners (collectively, “Defendants”). D. 1-1 at 15-19. Casey brings design defect and negligence claims against Defendants in connection with a GPS monitoring bracelet that allegedly malfunctioned while Casey wore the device, causing Casey to breach a condition of his pre-trial probation. Id. Although there has been some confusion around the identity of named defendant Apax Partners, Casey has since clarified in pending motion papers that he intended to name Apax Partners LLP (“Apax”) as a defendant in this action.[1]

         Apax has moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient service of process pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(5), respectively. D. 13. Casey now moves to amend the operative complaint to, among other things, voluntarily dismiss 3M from this action, bring new claims against Apax and to add claims against Alligator Holdco Ltd. (“Alligator”) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of the Commissioner of Probation (“Probation Department”). D. 28. For the reasons explained below, the Court ALLOWS Apax's motion to dismiss. The Court DENIES IN PART Casey's motion to amend the complaint as to the claims against Apax, the Probation Department and Alligator. The Court ALLOWS IN PART the motion to amend to the extent it seeks to dismiss 3M voluntarily.

         II. Standard of Review

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Insufficient Service

         The Court must apply the prima facie standard of review when evaluating a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2) without holding an evidentiary hearing. United States v. Swiss Am. Bank, Ltd., 274 F.3d 610, 618 (1st Cir. 2001). To meet his burden of establishing the Court has personal jurisdiction under the prima facie standard, Casey 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.” Swiss Am. Bank, 274 F.3d at 618 (citing United Elec. Radio and Mach. Workers of Am. v. 163 Pleasant St. Corp., 987 F.2d 39, 44 (1st Cir. 1993)). The Court considers the facts alleged in the pleadings as well as the parties' supplemental filings. See Sawtelle v. Farrell, 70 F.3d 1381, 1385 (1st Cir. 1995). The Court will “take specific facts affirmatively alleged by the plaintiff as true (whether or not disputed) and construe them in the light most congenial to the plaintiff s jurisdictional claim.” Mass. Sch. of Law at Andover, Inc. v. Am. Bar Ass'n, 142 F.3d 26, 34 (1st Cir. 1998). The Court will not “credit conclusory allegations or draw farfetched inferences, ” Ticketmaster-N.Y., Inc. v. Alioto, 26 F.3d 201, 203 (1st Cir. 1994), and recognizes that it is the plaintiffs burden to “verify the facts alleged through materials of evidentiary quality.” Killion v. Commonwealth Yachts, 421 F.Supp.2d 246, 252 (D. Mass. 2006) (quoting Barrett v. Lombardi, 239 F.3d 23, 27 (1st Cir. 2001)). The Court is also required to “add to the mix facts put forward by the defendants, to the extent that they are uncontradicted.” Mass. Sch. of Law, 142 F.3d at 34.

         As to Apax's Rule 12(b)(5) motion, “[a] district court may dismiss a complaint for a plaintiffs failure to effectively serve a defendant with process.” Sosa Polanco v. United States, No. CV 17-1327 (JAG), 2017 WL 9772872, at *1 (D.P.R. Dec. 13, 2017). “The Court may consider such matters outside of the pleadings when deciding a motion to dismiss based upon lack of service of process under Rule 12(b)(5).” Awadh v. Tourneau, No. 15-cv-13993-DJC, 2017 WL 1246326, at * 1 n.2 (D. Mass. Feb. 17, 2017). Where “[the defendant] challenges service of process pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5), [the plaintiff] has the burden of proving he effected proper service.” Id. at *2.

         B. Motion to Amend

         In considering Casey's motion to amend the complaint, the Court recognizes that “leave to amend is to be ‘freely given when justice so requires' . . . unless the amendment ‘would be futile, or reward, inter alia, undue or intended delay.'” Steir v. Girl Scouts of the USA, 383 F.3d 7, 12 (1st Cir. 2004) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2) and Resolution Trust Corp. v. Gold, 30 F.3d 251, 253 (1st Cir. 1994)). To evaluate futility, the Court determines if the amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, which is the same standard used by the Court to evaluate a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Hatch v. Dep't for Children, Youth & Their Families, 274 F.3d 12, 19 (1st Cir. 2001).

         Rule 15(a)'s “liberal amendment policy . . . does not mean that leave will be granted in all cases.” Acosta-Mestre v. Hilton Int'l of P.R., 156 F.3d 49, 51 (1st Cir. 1998) (quoting 6 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1487, at 611 (2d ed. 1990)).

         III. Factual Background

         The following facts are as alleged in the operative complaint and attachments thereto, D. 1-1 at 15-24, and uncontroverted facts set forth by Apax for the purpose of the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, D. 13. At some point prior to May 18, 2015, Casey was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet as a condition of “pre-trial probation.” D. 1-1 at 16 ¶ 5. On May 18, 2015, Casey received a call from an assistant coordinator of the Probation Department's Electronic Monitoring Program (“ELMO”), explaining that the monitoring bracelet was no longer transmitting a signal with Casey's location. Id. ¶¶ 5-6. After a failed attempt at troubleshooting, the assistant coordinator informed Casey that he should report to his probation officer by the next morning. Id. ¶ 8. Casey alleges that about one hour later, police officers arrived at his home and arrested him because of the bracelet's purported malfunction. Id. ¶ 9. After two days of incarceration, Casey was released on May 20, 2015. Id. ¶ 12. According to the operative complaint, ELMO leases GPS monitoring bracelets from 3M and utilizes 3M's software to transmit data. Id. ¶ 10. Casey alleges that 3M divested its electronic monitoring business to an unidentified affiliate of Apax on or about October 3, 2017. Id. ¶ 11.

         On March 12, 2018, Casey sent a letter addressed to “Apax Partners” at “443 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022” regarding his intent to file suit against the company due to its purported ownership of 3M's divested electronic monitoring business, including the allegedly defective GPS monitoring bracelet at issue. D. 1-1 at 21. The operative complaint likewise suggests that “Apax Partners” is a business located at the same address on Park Avenue in New York, New York. D. 1-1 at 16 ¶ 4. The summons and complaint, however, were placed ...

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