United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ProMove, Inc. and Logisys, Inc., Plaintiffs,
Mark Siepman, Joseph Hammerslough, Sunset Transportation LV, Inc., and Tantara Transportation Group, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge
ProMove, Inc., and Logisys, Inc. (collectively, Plaintiffs),
brought this action against ProMove's former employees
Mark Siepman and Joseph Hammerslough (the individual
defendants) as well as Sunset Transportation LV, Inc., and
Tantara Transportation Group (the corporate defendants),
asserting multiple claims, including breach of contract,
tortious interference with contract, and misappropriation of
trade secrets. Defendants collectively move to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction or, alternatively, to transfer
this case to the United States District Court for the
District of Nevada. Defendants' motion to dismiss is
granted in part and denied in part, and the motion to
transfer venue is denied.
is a Minnesota corporation with its principal place of
business in Las Vegas, Nevada. Logisys, an affiliate of
ProMove, is a Michigan corporation with its principal place
of business in Chicago, Illinois.
individual defendants are residents of Las Vegas, Nevada, and
former employees of ProMove in Las Vegas. Tantara
Transportation Group is a Michigan corporation with its
principal place of business in Canton, Michigan. Sunset
Transportation LV, Inc., is a Nevada corporation with its
principal place of business in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both
corporate defendants are direct competitors of ProMove.
to September 2012, the individual defendants owned and
operated Lightning Logistics, LLC, in Las Vegas. Logisys
purchased Lightning Logistics and retained the individual
defendants as employees. The individual defendants, who were
ProMove employees for approximately five years, executed
employment agreements with ProMove that included
confidentiality and non-compete clauses, as well as a
choice-of-law and forum-selection clause stating that each
party to the agreement “irrevocably submits itself to
the non-exclusive personal jurisdiction of the Federal and
State courts sitting in Minnesota.” Plaintiffs allege
that, while employed by ProMove, the individual defendants
made preparations to leave ProMove with the intent to begin
employment with the corporate defendants, including the
solicitation of ProMove's employees and customers on
behalf of the corporate defendants. Plaintiffs allege that
the corporate defendants knowingly assisted with this
preparation. Plaintiffs also allege that, before leaving
ProMove, Hammerslough copied proprietary and confidential
information from ProMove computers with the intent to benefit
himself, the corporate defendants, or both.
Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal
Defendants move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction,
Plaintiffs must make a prima facie showing that personal
jurisdiction exists. K-V Pharm. Co. v. J. Uriach &
CIA, S.A., 648 F.3d 588, 591-92 (8th Cir. 2011). To do
so, Plaintiffs must plead sufficient facts to support a
reasonable inference that the Defendants can be subjected to
jurisdiction within the forum state. Id. The
evidentiary showing required at the prima facie stage is
minimal, Johnson v. Arden, 614 F.3d 785, 794 (8th
Cir. 2010), but a plaintiff's prima facie showing is
“tested, not by the pleadings alone, but by the
affidavits and exhibits” supporting and opposing the
motion to dismiss, Dever v. Hentzen Coatings, Inc.,
380 F.3d 1070, 1072 (8th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks
omitted). When determining whether personal jurisdiction
exists, the Court views the evidence in the light most
favorable to the plaintiffs, resolving all factual conflicts
in the plaintiffs' favor. K-V Pharm., 648 F.3d
long-arm statute extends jurisdiction to the maximum limit
permitted by due process. Wessels, Arnold & Henderson
v. Nat'l Med. Waste, Inc., 65 F.3d 1427, 1431 (8th
Cir. 1995) (citing Minn. Stat. § 543.19). Because the
Court applies state law when determining the bounds of its
personal jurisdiction, Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct.
1115, 1121 (2014), the Court need only determine whether its
exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with due process,
Wessels, 65 F.3d at 1431.
process requires that a nonresident defendant have sufficient
minimum contacts with the forum state such that personal
jurisdiction over the defendant does not offend
“traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v.
Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 292 (1980) (internal quotation
marks omitted). To meet this legal standard, a defendant must
establish purposeful availment of the privilege of conducting
activities within the forum state, which in turn invokes the
benefits and protections of the forum state's laws.
Fastpath, Inc. v. Arbela Techs. Corp., 760 F.3d 816,
821 (8th Cir. 2014). When there are multiple defendants, the
Court must assess each defendant's contacts with the
forum state. Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 790
jurisdiction over a defendant may be general or specific.
See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462,
473 n.15 (1985). Here, only specific jurisdiction is at
issue. Accordingly, the alleged injury must have
occurred in the forum state or have some other connection to
the forum state such that the defendant's activities have
been purposefully directed toward the forum state.
Steinbuch v. Cutler, 518 F.3d 580, 586 (8th Cir.
2008) (citing Burger King, 471 U.S. at 472).
Court considers three primary factors when deciding whether
it has specific jurisdiction over the defendants: the nature
and quality of such contacts with the forum state, the
quantity of contacts, and the relation of the cause of action
to the contacts. K-V Pharm., 648 F.3d at 592. Two
secondary factors, the interest of the forum state in
providing a forum for its residents and the convenience of
the parties, also are germane to the Court's specific
jurisdiction analysis. Id. Ultimately, whether the
Court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants depends
on the “totality of the circumstances.”
Johnson, 614 F.3d at 794.