United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Nova Oculus Partners, LLC, Nova Oculus Holding Co., Inc., Nova Oculus Canada Manufacturing ULC, and AMC Holding Company, LLC, Plaintiffs,
Amerivision International, Inc., Blair Mowery, Marshall Masko, and John Jarding, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before Court on a Motion to Dismiss and a Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the
Motions are denied.
case involves the alleged misappropriation of the trade
secrets of a company called Acuity Medical International.
Acuity was a South Dakota company that developed a device for
treating the dry version of age-related macular degeneration.
Defendant Dr. John Jarding is an optometrist who founded
Acuity and acted variously as its Chief Medical Officer,
science advisor, board member, and Vice Chairman. (Am. Compl.
(Docket No. 25) ¶¶ 2, 9.) Defendants Blair Mowery
and Marshall Masko worked at Acuity as the Chief Financial
Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, respectively, starting
in February 2010. (Id. ¶ 2.) Jarding is a
resident of South Dakota; both Mowery and Masko live and work
was never able to bring its device to market and it entered
bankruptcy proceedings in 2015. During the bankruptcy, Mowery
and Masko attempted to raise funds to purchase Acuity's
assets, and were elected to the company's board of
directors. (Id. ¶ 30.) They were unsuccessful
in their attempt to rescue the company, however, and
Plaintiffs ultimately purchased Acuity's assets as part
of the bankruptcy proceeding.
allege that Jarding, Mowery, and Masko filed applications for
two patents in September 2015 using Acuity's intellectual
property. (Id. ¶ 39.) In November 2015, the
three individual Defendants formed Defendant Amerivision
International, Inc., to “develop therapy and
treatment related to dry AMD.” (Id. ¶ 6.)
In July and September 2016, one or more Defendants filed two
additional patent applications. (Id. ¶ 39.)
Defendants assigned the patent applications to Amerivision.
filed this lawsuit on September 18, 2017, claiming
misappropriation of trade secrets under federal and state
law, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion, and a
violation of Minnesota's Unfair and Deceptive Trade
Practices Act. Defendants Mowery, Masko, and Amerivision ask
the Court to dismiss the trade-secrets claims as time-barred,
and Defendant Jarding contends that the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over him.
Court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant if (1) Minnesota's long-arm statute, Minn.
Stat. § 543.19, is satisfied; and (2) the exercise of
personal jurisdiction does not offend due process.
Stanton v. St. Jude Med., Inc., 340 F.3d 690, 693
(8th Cir. 2003). Because Minnesota's long-arm statute
extends the personal jurisdiction of Minnesota courts as far
as due process allows, see e.g., In re Minn.
Asbestos Litig., 552 N.W.2d 242, 246 (Minn.1996), the
Court need only evaluate whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction comports with the requirements of due process.
See Guinness Import Co. v. Mark VII Distribs., Inc.,
153 F.3d 607, 614 (8th Cir. 1998).
process requires that the defendant have “certain
minimum contacts” with the forum state “such that
the maintenance of the suit does not offend
‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citation omitted).
Sufficient minimum contacts exist when the
“defendant's conduct and connection with the forum
State are such that [it] should reasonably anticipate being
haled into court there.” World-Wide Volkswagen
Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). There must
be some act by which the defendant “purposefully avails
itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the
forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of
its laws.” Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235,
253 (1958). In contrast, contacts that are merely random,
fortuitous, attenuated, or that are the result of
“unilateral activity of another party or a third
person” will not support personal jurisdiction.
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475
(1985) (citation omitted).
determine the sufficiency of a defendant's conduct with
the forum state, the Court examines five factors: (1) the
nature and quality of the contacts; (2) the quantity of the
contacts; (3) the relation between the contacts and the
action; (4) the forum state's interest in the litigation;
and (5) the convenience of the parties. Epps v. Stewart
Info. Servs. Corp., 327 F.3d 642, 648 (8th Cir. 2003).
The third factor distinguishes between general and specific
jurisdiction. Wessels, Arnold & Henderson v.
Nat'l Med. Waste, Inc., 65 F.3d 1427, 1432 & n.4
(8th Cir. 1995). General jurisdiction is present whenever a
defendant's contacts with the forum state are so
“continuous and systematic” that it may be sued
in the forum over any controversy, independent of whether the
cause of action has any relationship to the defendant's
activities within the state. Helicopteros Nacionales de
Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 416 (1984).
Specific jurisdiction refers to jurisdiction over causes of
action arising from or related to the defendant's actions
within the forum state. Burger King, 471 U.S. at
472-73. The fourth and fifth factors are secondary to the
analysis. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co. v. Nippon Carbide
Indus. Co., 63 F.3d 694, 697 (8th Cir. 1995). Finally,
in examining these factors, the Court may consider matters
outside the pleadings. See Stevens v. Redwing, 146
F.3d 538, 543, 546 (8th Cir. 1998).
argues that the only basis for the exercise of jurisdiction
over him is that he owns a small percentage of Amerivision,
and Amerivision is a Minnesota company. But there are many
other bases for exercising jurisdiction here. First, Jarding
admittedly traveled to Minnesota to meet with Mowery and
Masko at Acuity's Minnesota office. In addition, this
action arises out of Jarding's patent applications, which
were assigned to Amerivision, a Minnesota company. And
Jarding used Minnesota attorneys to pursue the patent
applications. Thus, Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged the
existence of specific jurisdiction such that Jarding should
have reasonably anticipated being haled into court in
Minnesota for his role in the alleged trade-secret
misappropriation that is the subject of this lawsuit.
Jarding's Motion is denied.