United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Lieutenant Colonel Chantell M. Higgins, Plaintiff,
Save Our Heroes, Defendant.
S. Momoh, Esq. and Stinson Leonard Street LLP, counsel for
Zorislav R. Leyderman, Esq. and The Law Office of Zorislav R.
Leyderman, counsel for defendant.
S. Doty, Judge United States District Court.
matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by
defendant Save Our Heroes. Based on a review of the file,
record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the motion is granted.
defamation suit arises out of defendant Save Our Heroes's
(SOH) blog post concerning the Naval Criminal Investigative
Service's (NCIS) investigation of plaintiff Lieutenant
Colonel Chantell Higgins. In March 2015, NCIS accused Higgins
of “destroying, falsifying and tampering with evidence
and obstructing justice” in connection with her
previous representation of a military minor dependent. Compl.
March 24, 2015, the Marine Times published an
article about the NCIS investigation, which Higgins claims
became the source of later allegedly defamatory articles
about her. Id. ¶ 24. One day later, Joseph
Jordan, a criminal defense attorney, also posted an article
on the NCIS investigation, which contained factual
errors.Id. ¶¶ 25-26.
early April 2015, NCIS closed its investigation of Higgins,
and on April 30, 2015, the Commander of Marine Corp
Installations Command determined that the allegations against
Higgins were unsubstantiated and closed the case.
Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Additionally, the Officer in
Charge of the Marine Corps Victims Legal Counsel Organization
declined to pursue any professional responsibility action
against Higgins. Id. ¶ 22.
two years after the end of the investigation, in March 2017,
SOH republished Jordan's 2015 article with the addition
of its own commentary. Id. ¶¶ 29, 34. SOH
did not disclose that the NCIS investigation was closed and
that no charges had been filed against Higgins. Id.
¶¶ 32, 35. Before publishing the article, SOH was
allegedly aware that Jordan's article was factually
incorrect. Id. ¶ 31. In December 2017, after
receiving a cease and desist letter from Higgins's
counsel, SOH removed the March 2017 article from its website.
Id. ¶ 36. Higgins alleges, however, that parts
of the article still exist online. Id. ¶ 37;
see id. Ex. A. She also alleges that SOH has
republished the article by coordinating with third parties.
Id. ¶ 37.
January 1, 2018, Higgins filed suit against SOH alleging
claims of (1) defamation and libel, (2) intentional
inflection of emotional distress, and (3) negligent
infliction of emotional distress. SOH now moves to dismiss
arguing that (1) the court lacks personal jurisdiction, and
(2) the complaint fails to state upon which relief can be
survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, a plaintiff must establish a prima facie case
that the forum state has personal jurisdiction over the
defendant. Stevens v. Redwing, 146 F.3d 538, 543
(8th Cir. 1998). In the absence of an evidentiary hearing, a
court “must look at the facts in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and resolve all factual
conflicts in favor of that party.” Dakota Indus.,
Inc. v. Dakota Sportswear, Inc., 946 F.2d 1384, 1387
(8th Cir. 1991). A federal court may assume jurisdiction over
a nonresident defendant “only to the extent permitted
by the long-arm statute of the forum state and by the Due
Process Clause.” Romak USA, Inc. v. Rich, 384
F.3d 979, 984 (8th Cir. 2004) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). Because the Minnesota ...