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Dj Engineering, Inc. v. 818 Aviation, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

August 21, 2014

D-J ENGINEERING, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
818 AVIATION, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JULIE A. ROBINSON, District Judge.

This case arises from a contract dispute between Plaintiff D-J Engineering, Inc. and Defendant 818 Aviation, Inc. for repair work to certain aircraft components. This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Amended Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Under Rule 12(b)(2) or, Alternatively, to Dismiss or Stay this Action in Deference to a Parallel, Pending California Suit (Doc. 10).[1] The motion has been fully briefed and the Court is prepared to rule. For the reasons set forth in detail below, the Court denies Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction; the alternative motion to dismiss or stay is moot because the California case has been transferred to this Court and consolidated with the instant case.

I. Standard

Plaintiff has the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over Defendants.[2] In the absence of an evidentiary hearing, as in this case, the plaintiff must make only a prima facie showing of jurisdiction to defeat a motion to dismiss.[3] "The plaintiff may make this prima facie showing by demonstrating, via affidavit or other written materials, facts that if true would support jurisdiction over the defendant."[4] Allegations in a complaint are accepted as true if they are plausible, non-conclusory, and non-speculative, to the extent that they are not controverted by submitted affidavits.[5] At the same time, the Court does not have to accept as true conclusory allegations, nor incompetent evidence. When a defendant has produced evidence to support a challenge to personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff has a duty to come forward with competent proof in support of the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint.[6] The court resolves all factual disputes in favor of the plaintiff.[7] Conflicting affidavits are also resolved in the plaintiff's favor, and "the plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving party."[8] "In order to defeat a plaintiff's prima facie showing of jurisdiction, a defendant must present a compelling case demonstrating that the presence of some other considerations would render jurisdiction unreasonable.'"[9]

II. Factual Background

Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff, the following facts are taken from the Complaint and attached exhibits, and the declarations and exhibits attached to the parties' briefs. The Court does not consider any general or conclusory allegations unsupported by affidavits or other evidence and has resolved all factual disputes in Plaintiff's favor.

D-J Engineering, Inc. ("D-J") is a firm that provides engineering and manufacturing services for the aerospace industry. D-J's principal place of business is Augusta, Kansas. 818 Aviation, Inc. ("818 Aviation") is a firm that sells Gulfstream aircraft components. Its principal place of business is Newhall, California. The parties' relationship began when a D-J salesperson solicited Mark Jeter, an agent of 818 who resides and works in Oklahoma City. Jeter asked D-J for bids on projects relating to the repair of airplane components. Jeter accepted D-J's bids on behalf of 818 Aviation, and 818 Aviation submitted purchase orders to D-J in Kansas on May 31, 2012 and December 6, 2012. 818 Aviation sent several parts to D-J for repair. D-J performed work at D-J's Augusta, Kansas facility on multiple components for 818 Aviation. Both Jeter and 818 Aviation's President Scott Charles communicated with D-J personnel by telephone and email during the course of the parties' relationship.

At some point, 818 Aviation became dissatisfied with D-J's work and its President traveled from California to Kansas to inspect the components.[10] Also, Jeter traveled to Kansas during the course of the parties' relationship. 818 Aviation's personal visits to the D-J facility were for the sole purpose of conducting business under the subject contract. 818 Aviation then asked D-J to stop working on several components. 818 Aviation stopped paying D-J, and D-J has not returned all of 818 Aviation's airplane components.

D-J filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas on January 24, 2014, seeking declaratory relief, including that Plaintiff has no obligation to refund payments previously made by Defendant, that Defendant is obligated to pay Plaintiff for work performed or partially performed, and that Plaintiff has no obligation to pay Defendant for parts claimed to have been delivered, for which Defendant has no accompanying documentation. 818 Aviation filed suit in California State Court on February 13, 2014, alleging breach of contract, breach of warranty, bad faith, negligence, fraud, conversion and seeking declaratory relief.[11] D-J removed that case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. On March 14, 2014, D-J filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and to transfer for lack of venue in the California action. On April 22, 2014, District Judge Percy Anderson granted a motion to transfer the California case to Kansas, declining to rule on the personal jurisdiction issue but finding that venue was proper in Kansas. On May 15, 2014, this Court granted Plaintiff's motion to consolidate the transferred case with this case.[12]

III. Discussion

In a federal diversity case, the law of the forum state determines the court's jurisdiction over defendants.[13] To establish personal jurisdiction over a defendant, plaintiff must show that jurisdiction is proper under the laws of the forum state and that the exercise of jurisdiction would not offend due process.[14] The Kansas long-arm statute is construed liberally so as to allow jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by due process, therefore the Court proceeds directly to the constitutional analysis.[15]

The due process analysis is comprised of two steps. First, the court must consider whether the defendant has such minimum contacts with the forum state "that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there."[16] If the requisite minimum contacts are found, the Court will proceed to the second step in the due process analysis-ensuring that the exercise of jurisdiction "does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'"[17]

A. Minimum Contacts

"Minimum contacts" can be established in one of two ways, either generally or specifically for lawsuits based ...


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