United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Dkt. 6.) For the
reasons addressed below, Defendant's motion is granted
and the complaint is dismissed without prejudice.
LeDuc Gifts & Specialty Products, LLC (LeDuc), is a
Minnesota limited liability corporation. Until 2018,
LeDuc's primary business model was designing,
manufacturing, and selling thermal tumblers. Defendant New
Thermo-Serv, Ltd. (NTS), is a Texas limited partnership that
also sells thermal tumblers. NTS's principal place of
business and general partner are located in Texas.
2014, one of LeDuc's related entities, 4Brava, LLC
(4Brava), entered a partnership with DSC Products Holding,
LLC (DSC). The partnership created and sold thermal tumblers
for mass-market retailers. The relationship between LeDuc and
DSC deteriorated in 2015 when Daniel Sachs, the owner of DSC,
allegedly embezzled funds from the partnership and
misappropriated LeDuc's trade secrets. LeDuc contends
that Sachs unlawfully duplicated and made minor improvements
to LeDuc's molds and manufacturing equipment.
and 4Brava commenced lawsuits against Sachs and DSC in June
2015 (the “Sachs litigation”). As the Sachs
litigation proceeded in the United States District Court for
the District of Minnesota, Sachs offered to sell thermal
tumbler molds and equipment to NTS. NTS purchased the molds
and equipment from Sachs in the fall of 2016. A draft asset
purchase agreement (APA) acknowledges the ongoing Sachs
litigation. But the final APA does not refer to the
litigation. NTS used the molds and equipment purchased from
Sachs to sell thermal tumblers, ultimately competing with
learning of the 2016 sale between Sachs and NTS, LeDuc and
4Brava sent cease and desist letters to NTS. NTS continued to
use the molds and equipment and to sell the competing
initiated this lawsuit on October 4, 2018, alleging claims
against NTS for misappropriation of trade secrets, unjust
enrichment, tortious interference with prospective economic
advantage, and tortious interference with contracts.
moves to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal
jurisdiction. In opposition to the motion, LeDuc delineates
six contacts with Minnesota which, LeDuc argues, justify the
exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over NTS. These
proffered contacts are (1) NTS's negotiations of the APA
with Sachs; (2) NTS's communications with Aroplax, the
company storing the molds and equipment; (3) NTS's
communications with LeDuc about the molds it purchased from
Sachs; (4) Sachs's performance of the APA, including
shipping the molds and equipment from Minnesota; (5)
NTS's sale of thermal tumblers to Minnesota customers;
and (6) NTS's alleged interference with LeDuc's
business, which caused harm to LeDuc in Minnesota.
survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), a “plaintiff 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 (8th Cir. 2011). In doing so, a plaintiff
must plead facts sufficient “to support a reasonable
inference that the defendant can be subjected to jurisdiction
within the state.” K-V Pharm. Co., 648 F.3d at
592 (internal quotation marks omitted) (alteration omitted).
Although the quantum of evidence necessary to make this prima
facie showing is minimal, pleadings alone are insufficient.
Id. Such evidence must be supported by the
affidavits and exhibits and sufficient to withstand a
challenge that is similarly robust. Id. When
analyzing whether a plaintiff has satisfied this requisite
showing, the district court views the evidence in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff and resolves all factual
conflicts in the plaintiff's favor. Digi-Tel
Holdings, Inc. v. Proteq Telecomms. (PTE), Ltd., 89 F.3d
519, 522 (8th Cir. 1996).
courts apply state law when determining the bounds of their
personal jurisdiction. Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct.
1115, 1121 (2014). Because Minnesota's long-arm statute,
Minnesota Statutes Section 543.19, extends jurisdiction to
the maximum limit permitted by due process, a federal court
in Minnesota need only determine whether its exercise of
personal jurisdiction comports with due process. Wessels,
Arnold & Henderson v. Nat'l Med. Waste, Inc., 65
F.3d 1427, 1431 (8th Cir. 1995).
process requires that a non-resident defendant have
sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state such that
subjecting the defendant to the lawsuit in that forum does
not offend “traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp.
v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291-92 (1980) (internal
quotation marks omitted). “Sufficient minimum contacts
requires some act by which the defendant purposely avails
itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the
forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of
its laws.” Fastpath, Inc. v. Arbela Techs.
Corp., 760 F.3d 816, 821 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal
quotation marks omitted). And the defendant's contact
with the forum state must be “such that [the defendant]
should reasonably anticipate being haled into court
there.” World-Wide Volkswagen, 444 U.S. at
employ a five-factor test to determine the sufficiency of a
defendant's contacts with the forum state: (1) the nature
and quality of contacts with the forum state, (2) the
quantity of contacts, (3) the relation of the cause of action
to the contacts, (4) the interest of the forum state in
providing a forum for its residents, and (5) the convenience
of the parties. Land-O-Nod Co. v. Bassett Furniture
Indus., Inc., 708 F.2d 1338, 1340 (8th Cir.
1983). The first three factors have
“primary” importance, whereas the latter two are
“secondary” factors. Johnson v. Arden,
614 F.3d 785, 794 (8th Cir. 2010); accord Burlington
Indus., Inc. v. Maples Indus., Inc., 97 F.3d 1100, 1102
(8th Cir. 1996). The third factor, the relation of the
contacts to the cause of action, can be satisfied by either
general or specific jurisdiction. Burlington, 97
F.3d at 1102-03. Specific personal ...