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Hertges v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 30, 2014

Andrew D. Hertges, Plaintiff,
v.
Experian Information Solutions, Inc., and Western Vista Federal Credit Union, Defendants.

John H. Goolsby, Goolsby Law Office, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Plaintiff.

Timothy D. Lervick, Crowley Fleck PLLP, Bismarck, North Dakota, for Defendant Western Vista Federal Credit Union.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD H. KYLE, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

In this action, Andrew Hertges has sued Experian Information Solutions, Inc. ("Experian") and Western Vista Federal Credit Union ("Western") for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. Presently before the Court is Western's Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion.

BACKGROUND

Hertges is a Minnesota resident who previously lived in Wyoming. (Compl. ¶ 2; Leafgreen Aff. ¶ 6.) Sometime prior to 2009, while in Wyoming, he borrowed money from Western, a Wyoming credit union, using his vehicle as collateral for the loan. (Compl. ¶¶ 7, 8; Leafgreen Aff. ¶¶ 2, 7.) He then moved to Minnesota and in 2009 experienced financial difficulties and fell behind on the payments. (Compl. ¶ 10; Hertges Aff. Ex. A.) He eventually went into default, and Western contracted with a Minnesota collection agency to recover the vehicle. (Hertges Aff. Ex. K.) The vehicle was later sold in Minnesota, but a deficiency balance remained. (Id. Ex. L.)

Hertges then set up a monthly payment plan with Western to satisfy the outstanding balance. (Compl. ¶ 14.) He alleges, however, that Western began incorrectly reporting the status of his account to Experian, a credit-reporting agency. (Id. ¶¶ 16-24.) In April 2013, he filed a dispute with Experian, which in turn contacted Western. (Id. ¶¶ 36-41.)[1] The inaccurate reporting continued, however. (Id.)

Hertges commenced this action against Experian and Western in October 2013, alleging that each had violated the FCRA. With respect to Western, the Complaint alleges that it "fail[ed] to conduct reasonable investigations" into Hertges's disputes, "fail[ed] to appropriately report the results of [its] investigations, " and/or "fail[ed] to appropriately modify, delete, and/or block the [derogatory] information" reported to Experian. (Id. ¶ 60.) Contending that it has, at best, isolated contacts with Minnesota, Western now moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In order to survive Western's Motion, Hertges need not establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence, but rather must make only a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. E.g., Epps v. Stewart Info. Servs. Corp. , 327 F.3d 642, 647 (8th Cir. 2003). This requires him to prove "sufficient facts... to support a reasonable inference that [Western] can be subjected to jurisdiction within [Minnesota]." Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc. v. Bassett & Walker Int'l, Inc. , 702 F.3d 472, 475 (8th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). Because Western controverts the existence of jurisdiction, Hertges's showing "must be tested[] not by the pleadings alone, but by the affidavits and exhibits presented with the motion[] and in opposition thereto." Id . (citations omitted). And where, as here, the Court does not hold a hearing, it must "look at the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and resolve all factual conflicts in favor of that party.'" Pangaea, Inc. v. Flying Burrito LLC , 647 F.3d 741, 745 (8th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).

ANALYSIS

To establish a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction, Hertges must show (1) Minnesota's long-arm statute has been satisfied and (2) exercising jurisdiction would comport with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[2] E.g., Guinness Import Co. v. Mark VII Distribs., Inc. , 153 F.3d 607, 613 (8th Cir. 1998); Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co. v. Nippon Carbide Indus. Co. , 63 F.3d 694, 696-97 (8th Cir. 1995). These two inquiries collapse into one, however, because Minnesota's long-arm statute extends jurisdiction to the outer limits of the Due Process Clause. E.g., Guinness , 153 F.3d at 614; Soo Line R.R. Co. v. Hawker Siddeley Can., Inc. , 950 F.2d 526, 528 (8th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted).

Due process requires that Western have sufficient "minimum contacts with [Minnesota] such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Daimler AG v. Bauman, __ U.S. __ , 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). "The central question" is whether Western "has purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in [Minnesota] and should, therefore, reasonably anticipate being haled into court [here]." Pecoraro v. Sky Ranch for Boys, Inc. , 340 F.3d 558, 562 (8th Cir. 2003) (citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz , 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985)). The Eighth Circuit has instructed district courts to consider five factors in answering this "central question": (1) the nature and quality of the defendant's contacts with the forum; (2) the quantity of those contacts; (3) the relation of the cause of action to the contacts;[3] (4) ...


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