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Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation v. Premium Beef Feeders, LLC

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

January 15, 2014

CARGILL MEAT SOLUTIONS CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
PREMIUM BEEF FEEDERS, LLC and POWER PLUS BEEF FEEDERS, LLC d/b/a POWER PLUS FEEDERS, LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ERIC F. MELGREN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Alternative Motion to Transfer Venue for Convenience. Defendant asks the Court to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2) and seeks to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons stated below, the Court denies both motions.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On May 24, 2011, Plaintiff Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation ("Cargill") and Defendants Premium Beef Feeders, LLC ("PBF") and Power Plus Beef Feeders, LLC ("PPF") (collectively "Defendants") entered into a Cattle Procurement and Feeding Agreement ("Agreement"). The Agreement formalized a collaborative effort to procure and feed cattle, with all three parties sharing in the ownership, profits, and losses of the operation. Cargill is a corporation with its headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, and Defendants are Oklahoma limited liability corporations. Cargill initially asserted this action in Kansas state court, but Defendants removed the action to this Court.

II. Legal Standard

A. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

A plaintiff opposing a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction bears the burden of showing that jurisdiction over the defendant is appropriate.[1] In a pretrial motion to dismiss, when the matter is decided on the basis of affidavits and written materials, the plaintiff is only required to make a prima facie showing that personal jurisdiction is proper to avoid dismissal.[2] Once the plaintiff makes a prima facie showing, the defendant must "present a compelling case demonstrating that the presence of some other considerations would render jurisdiction unreasonable.'"[3]

"The allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits. If the parties present conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor, and the plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving party."[4] "However, only the well pled facts of plaintiff's complaint, as distinguished from mere conclusory allegations, must be accepted as true."[5] "The plaintiff has the duty to support jurisdictional allegations in a complaint by competent proof of the supporting facts if the jurisdictional allegations are challenged by an appropriate pleading."[6]

B. Motion to Transfer

"For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought...."[7] A district court enjoys greater discretion to transfer a case under § 1404(a) than to dismiss the action based upon forum non conveniens.[8] A court should decide motions to transfer on an individualized, case-by-case basis.[9] "The party moving to transfer a case pursuant to § 1404(a) bears the burden of establishing that the existing forum is inconvenient."[10] "Merely shifting the inconvenience from one side to the other, however, obviously is not a permissible justification for a change of venue."[11] Unless the balance of interests "is strongly in favor of the movant the plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be disturbed."[12]

III. Analysis

A. Motion to Dismiss

"Where a federal lawsuit is based on diversity of citizenship, the court's jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant is determined by the law of the forum state."[13] The party seeking to establish personal jurisdiction over a diverse litigant must make two showings. First, it must show that jurisdiction is legitimate under the state's long-arm statute. Second, it must show that jurisdiction does not offend the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[14] The Kansas Supreme Court has interpreted Kansas' long-arm statute to extend jurisdiction to the fullest extent allowed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[15] Thus, in this case, the Court need not conduct statutory analysis apart from the due process analysis.[16]

The due process analysis involves a two-step inquiry.[17] First, the plaintiff must show that the nonresident defendants have "minimum contacts" with the forum state by demonstrating that they purposefully availed themselves of the protections or benefits of the state's laws, such that they should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.[18] If the plaintiff successfully establishes such minimum contacts, the burden shifts to the defendant to prove that the exercise of jurisdiction would offend ...


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