United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Joseph McLean, Paul Dunn, Phillip DiWilliams, Darin Buckman, Mark Pinkosh, and Troy Franks Plaintiffs,
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Defendant.
BOWBEER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs Joseph McLean, Paul
Dunn, Phillip DiWilliams, Darin Buckman, Mark Pinkosh, and
Troy Franks' Motion for Jurisdictional Discovery [Doc.
No. 26]. Plaintiffs seek leave to conduct jurisdictional
discovery of Defendant United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops' (“USCCB”) contacts in Minnesota. For
the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies the motion.
Allegations in the Complaint
are six individuals who have accused ordained Catholic
priests of engaging in unpermitted sexual contact with or
sexually abusing them. (See Compl. ¶¶
11-47 [Doc. No. 1].) Of the six Plaintiffs, only Joseph
McLean resides in Minnesota. (See Compl.
¶¶ 1-7.) Defendant USCCB is an organization
comprised of Catholic bishops from each diocese in the United
States. (Compl. ¶ 8.) The USCCB's principal place of
business is located in Washington D.C., but Plaintiffs allege
the USCCB transacts business in every state, including
Minnesota. (Compl. ¶¶ 7, 9.) Federal subject matter
jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship under 28
U.S.C. § 1332. (Compl. ¶ 10.)
bring two claims against the USCCB: (1) public nuisance under
the common law and Minn. Stat. § 609.74, and (2)
nuisance under Minn. Stat. § 561.01. (Compl.
¶¶ 96-111.) Plaintiffs contend the USCCB failed to
uphold a pledge to protect children and young adults from
sexual abuse by clergy and broke its promises to address past
instances of child sexual assault. (Compl. ¶¶
63-65.) Plaintiffs further assert the USCCB concealed
criminal activity, failed to report allegations of sexual
abuse, and otherwise endangered children by its actions or
omissions. (Compl. ¶¶ 73, 85, 91-93.)
The USCCB's Motion to Dismiss
January 24, 2019, the USCCB filed a motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), arguing that it lacks sufficient
minimum contacts with Minnesota. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss at
1 [Doc. No. 9].) Plaintiffs wrote a letter to the Honorable
Donovan W. Frank, United States District Judge, seeking leave
to conduct limited jurisdictional discovery before responding
to the motion to dismiss. (Goffe Letter at 1, Feb. 1, 2019
[Doc. No. 19].) The USCCB filed a letter opposing the
request. (Wieser Letter, Feb. 7, 2019 [Doc. No. 20].) The
District Court instructed Plaintiffs to file a motion before
the undersigned for leave to take jurisdictional discovery.
(Text Order, Feb. 14, 2019 [Doc. No. 21].)
filed their opposition to the motion to dismiss on February
14, 2019. They argued that general jurisdiction existed
because the USCCB's contacts with Minnesota were
continuous and systemic, and that specific jurisdiction
existed because the USCCB purposely directed its activities
at Minnesota residents and the injuries alleged in this case
resulted in part from those activities. (Pls.' Mem.
Opp'n Mot. Dismiss at 1 [Doc. No. 22].) Plaintiffs also
repeated their request for leave to take jurisdictional
discovery to support their positions. (Id.)
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Take Jurisdictional
February 15, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to
take jurisdictional discovery [Doc. No. 26], and filed their
supporting memorandum on March 6, 2019 [Doc. No. 31].
Plaintiffs proposed 24 interrogatories and 20 document
requests. (See First Goffe Aff. Exs. 11, 12 [Doc.
Nos. 24-11, 24-12].) The proposed discovery requests were
extremely broad. For example, Interrogatory No. 9 asked the
USCCB to describe “all verbal, written or electronic
communications between the USCCB and any officer, director,
or managing agent of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and
Minneapolis from 1950 to present.” (First Goffe Aff.
Ex. 11 at 6.) Document Request No. 8 asked for “[a]ll
documents that relate to the presence within or activities
within the State of Minnesota by the USCCB and its agents or
representatives from 1950 to the present.” (First Goffe
Aff. Ex. 12 at 7.) Plaintiffs also asked for leave to depose
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the current president of USCCB; and
Theresa Ridderhoff, the Associate General Secretary of the
USCCB. (Pls.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Jurisdictional Discovery at
7 [Doc. No. 31].) The USCCB filed its memorandum in
opposition to the motion on March 13, 2019, and this Court
heard oral argument on the motion on March 20, 2019.
reflected in the minutes of the motion hearing, the Court was
not persuaded at that time that some jurisdictional discovery
would not be appropriate, but found that
Plaintiffs' proposed discovery requests were
exceptionally broad and not adequately tied to the specific
assertions made in their opposition to Defendants' motion
to dismiss. (Ct. Mins. at 1 [Doc. No. 42].) Accordingly, the
Court held the motion in abeyance and instructed
Plaintiffs' counsel to “craft and provide to
Defendant's counsel no more than ten interrogatories and
no more than five document requests that are specific,
focused, and tailored to Plaintiff's specific
assertions concerning personal jurisdiction.”
(Id.) (emphasis added). The Court further instructed
the parties to meet and confer on the new discovery requests
and advise the Court in writing about their progress.
(Id. at 1-2.) Despite the Court's guidance, the
parties remain at total impasse. (See Pls.'
Suppl. Mem. [Doc. No. 52]; Def.'s Suppl. Mem. [Doc. No.
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