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Glenn v. Lewis

January 20, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez


This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Defendant James S. Lewis, M.D. to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

On or about March 13, 2008, Plaintiff Leslie Glenn filed a medical malpractice Complaint pro se in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County. She alleged that on or about March 15, 2006, she was a patient of Defendant James S. Lewis, M.D. in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and that Defendant was negligent in failing to properly diagnose Plaintiff's condition, failing to properly refer her to others, failing to properly perform examinations and tests, failing to obtain informed consent, and otherwise failing to provide appropriate medical care. On May 27, 2008, Defendant removed the case to this Court based on diversity of citizenship, as Plaintiff is a New Jersey citizen, Defendant is a citizen of Pennsylvania, and Defendant assumed the amount in controversy to be in excess of $75,000. On July 9, 2008, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss the Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2).

II. Analysis

Standard on a Rule 12(b)(2) motion

If a defendant raises lack of personal jurisdiction as a defense, the plaintiff has the burden of showing "sufficient facts" to establish jurisdiction is proper. Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, Nat'l Ass'n v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992). The plaintiff meets it burden by making out a prima facie case of proper jurisdiction by "establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state." Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A plaintiff's allegations are "taken as true and factual disputes drawn in its favor" when the district court does not hold an evidentiary hearing on the jurisdictional facts. Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004).

A plaintiff must make actual proofs and not just allegations of jurisdiction; it can do this with sworn affidavits and competent evidence but not on "bare pleadings alone." Id. (quoting Patterson v. FBI, 893 F.2d 595, 603-04 (3d Cir. 1990)). If the plaintiff meets it burden, the defendant has to make a "compelling" case that the court exercising jurisdiction is "unreasonable." Mellon Bank, 960 F.2d at 1226 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court must determine personal jurisdiction for each defendant, Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 781 n.13 (1984), although it may be appropriate to examine personal jurisdiction for the claims as a whole when overlapping claims are premised upon the same facts. See O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., 496 F.3d 312, 318 n.3 (3d Cir. 2007). A dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction is not a final judgment on the merits, which would preclude the claim in another court. Saudi v. Acomarit Mar. Servs., S.A., 245 F. Supp. 2d 662, 679 (E.D. Pa. 2003),aff'd 114 Fed. Appx. 449 (3d Cir. 2004).

Personal Jurisdiction, Generally

A federal court exerts personal jurisdiction to the extent authorized by the law of the state in which that court sits. See Provident Nat'l Bank v. California Fed. Sav. and Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 436 (3d Cir. 1987) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)). The New Jersey Long-Arm Statute permits an exercise of jurisdiction to the fullest extent allowed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Nicholas v. Saul Stone & Co. LLC, 224 F.3d 179, 184 (3d Cir. 2000); N.J. Ct. R. 4:4-4.

Due process limits a state's power to assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Helicopteros Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 413-14 (1984) (citing Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714 (1878)). Due process is satisfied when a defendant has minimum contacts with a forum state, so that a court's jurisdiction over the defendant "does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A suit offends due process when there are no ties, contacts, or relations between the state and the defendant. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 294 (1980); Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 319; see also Keeton, 465 U.S. at 780.

Two types of personal jurisdiction may be asserted over a defendant, general and specific. Whether a court can exercise personal jurisdiction depends on "the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation." Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002).

General Jurisdiction

General jurisdiction exists where a defendant has "continuous or systematic" contacts with the forum. Helicopteros, 466 U.S. at 414 (citing Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 445 (1952)). When such contacts are present, a court may adjudicate as to a defendant even where the controversy before the court is unrelated to the defendant's activities within the forum. Id. The Third Circuit has held that in order to properly exercise general personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the required contacts must be significantly more than mere minimum contacts. See Provident Nat'l Bank, 819 ...

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