United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Casper, United States District Judge.
case arises out of a fall Plaintiff Suzanne Lewis
(“Lewis”) suffered on April 19, 2017 at the Lake
Buena Vista Resort in Orlando, Florida. Lewis has filed this
lawsuit against Walt Disney Parks & Resorts U.S., Inc.
(“Disney”) and American Automobile Insurance
Company (“AAIC”) alleging negligent maintenance
of premises (Count I) and negligence (Count II) against
Disney and breach of contract and unfair and deceptive trade
and settlement practices under Mass. Gen. L. c. 93A against
AAIC. D. 1. Disney has moved to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction and improper venue or, in the alternative, to
transfer the case to the Middle District of Florida. D. 15.
AAIC has moved to sever itself from the claims against Disney
and to stay all proceedings against AAIC pending resolution
of the claims against Disney. D. 11. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court ALLOWS Disney's motion to dismiss,
D. 15, but DENIES AAIC's motion, D. 11, both without
Standard of Review
ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction without holding an evidentiary hearing, a
district court must apply the prima facie standard of review.
United States v. Swiss Am. Bank, Ltd., 274 F.3d 610,
618 (1st Cir. 2001). Under the prima facie standard, to meet
her burden of establishing that the Court has personal
jurisdiction over the defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2), Lewis 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
(citation and quotations omitted). This showing “must
be based upon evidence of specific facts set forth in the
record” and “the plaintiff must go beyond the
pleadings and make affirmative proof.” Id.
(internal quotations omitted). The Court considers the facts
alleged in the pleadings as well as the parties'
supplemental filings. Sawtelle v. Farrell, 70 F.3d
1381, 1385 (1st Cir. 1995); Ticketmaster-N.Y., Inc. v.
Alioto, 26 F.3d 201, 203 (1st Cir. 1994). 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
v. Am. Bar Ass'n, 142 F.3d 26, 34 (1st Cir. 1998).
The Court will then “add to the mix facts put forward
by the defendants, to the extent that they are
uncontradicted.” Id. Notwithstanding the
liberality of this approach, the court will not “credit
conclusory allegations or draw farfetched inferences.”
Ticketmaster, 26 F.3d at 203.
As to a
motion to dismiss for improper venue, the Court is “not
required to determine the best venue, merely a proper
venue.” Astro-Med, Inc. v. Nihon Kohden Am.,
Inc., 591 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2009). The plaintiff
bears the burden to establish that the venue she has selected
is proper. See, e.g., Sindi v.
El-Moslimany, No. 13-cv-10798-IT, 2014 WL 6893537, at
*11 (D. Mass. Dec. 5, 2014) (quoting Transamerica Corp.
v. Trans-Am Leasing Corp., 670 F.Supp. 1089, 1090 (D.
Mass. 1987)); Cordis Corp. v. Cardiac Pacemakers,
599 F.2d 1085, 1086 (1st Cir. 1979). In assessing the
plaintiff's showing, the Court may accept all
well-pleaded allegations as true, unless they are
contradicted by the defendant's affidavits. See
Universal Trading & Inv. Co. v. Bureau for Representing
Ukrainian Interests in Int'l & Foreign Courts,
898 F.Supp.2d 301, 317 (D. Mass. 2012) (quoting Turnley
v. Banc of Am. Inv. Servs., Inc., 576 F.Supp.2d 204, 211
(D. Mass. 2008)).
following facts are taken from Lewis's complaint, D. 1,
Disney's uncontroverted, sworn affidavit in support of
its motion to dismiss, D. 17, and AAIC's first response
to Disney's motion to dismiss, D. 21. Plaintiff Lewis is
a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. D. 1 at
¶ 1. Defendant Disney is a Florida corporation with its
principal place of business in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. D.
17 at ¶ 3. Defendant AAIC is a Missouri corporation with
its principal place of business in Missouri. D. 21 at 2.
Defendant Disney has, at all times relevant to this action,
owned and operated the Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando,
Florida. D. 1 at ¶ 2. Disney is not registered to do
business in Massachusetts as a foreign corporation, has no
offices here, employs no individuals here, does not own or
lease any property here and has no assets or bank accounts in
the Commonwealth. D. 17 at ¶¶ 5-12.
April 19, 2017, Lewis was operating her motorized scooter at
the Lake Buena Vista Resort when she drove over a small
staircase, which caused her to fall from the scooter,
sustaining serious injuries to her knee, leg and ankle. D. 1
at ¶ 4. Lewis has incurred medical costs as a result of
her injuries as well as “severe pain of body and
mind” and an extended period of disability. D. 1 at
Disney's insurer for Lewis's claims related to her
scooter accident. D. 1 at ¶ 9. On May 21, 2018, Lewis
sent a demand letter to AAIC in accordance with Mass. Gen. L.
c. 93A. D. 1-1.
September 14, 2018, Lewis filed her complaint in this case.
D. 1. AAIC moved to sever itself from the proceedings against
Disney and to stay proceedings against AAIC. D. 11. Disney
then moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer the
case to the Middle District of Florida. D. 15. This Court
heard argument on the motions and took the motions under
advisement. D. 26.
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.” Daynard v. Ness,
Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole, P.A., 290 F.3d
42, 51 (1st Cir. 2002) (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted). Accordingly, this Court may only exercise
personal jurisdiction within the limits set by
Massachusetts' long-arm statute and the Constitution.
Lyle Richards Int'l, Ltd. v. Ashworth, Inc., 132
F.3d 111, 112 (1st Cir. 1997). Here, “[b]ecause the
[Massachusetts] long-arm statute imposes specific constraints
on the exercise of personal jurisdiction that are not
coextensive with the ...