United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff CHS Inc.'s Motion
for Default Judgment, (Dkt. 11), and Defendant Farmers
Propane Inc.'s Motion to Vacate and Dismiss, (Dkt. 25).
For the reasons addressed below, the complaint is dismissed
for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Clerk's entry of
default is set aside, and the motion for default judgment is
CHS Inc., a Minnesota corporation, conducts its business in
the energy, grain, and food solutions sectors. Defendant
Farmers Propane Inc., an Ohio corporation, sells propane. In
or around 2013, CHS and Farmers Propane entered into an
agreement (the original contract) in which CHS would sell
propane to Farmers Propane on credit. After Farmers Propane
failed to pay the amount due under the agreement, the parties
entered into a series of subsequent contracts concerning
Farmers Propane's obligation to pay CHS. The most recent
contract (the Promissory Note) is the subject of this
alleges that Farmers Propane failed to make any of the
periodic payments required under the Promissory Note. CHS
initiated this lawsuit on May 24, 2018, and served Farmers
Propane with the summons and complaint on July 3, 2018.
Farmers Propane had 21 days to file an answer or otherwise
respond to the complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(a)(1)(A)(i). That deadline passed without Farmers Propane
answering or otherwise responding to the complaint. CHS
applied for an entry of default, Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), and the
Clerk of Court entered default on August 27, 2018.
Thereafter, CHS filed the pending motion for default
November 6, 2018, Farmers Propane moved to dismiss CHS's
complaint. The Court struck Farmers Propane's motion
because it did not comply with the Local Rules. Farmers
Propane subsequently filed the pending motion to vacate and
dismiss on November 16, 2018.
parties primarily dispute whether the Court has personal
jurisdiction over Farmers Propane. Because the existence of
personal jurisdiction is a threshold question, the Court
addresses this issue first in the context of Farmers
Propane's motion to dismiss. See Falkirk Mining Co.
v. Japan Steel Works, Ltd., 906 F.2d 369, 372 (8th Cir.
1990) (explaining that personal jurisdiction is a threshold
issue and must be addressed before the merits of a dispute).
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
alleges that Farmers Propane has sufficient minimum contacts
with Minnesota and, therefore, is subject to this Court's
specific personal jurisdiction. Farmers Propane counters that
CHS's proffered contacts are insufficient.
personal jurisdiction is challenged, the plaintiff asserting
the district court's personal jurisdiction over a
defendant “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). This showing requires the plaintiff to plead
“sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference
that the defendant[ ] can be subjected to jurisdiction within
the state.” Id. (alteration in original)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Although the evidence
necessary to make this prima facie showing is minimal, such
evidence must withstand testing through competing affidavits
and exhibits supporting or opposing the motion. Id.
at 592. Pleadings alone are insufficient. Id. When
deciding whether the plaintiff has succeeded in making 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).
federal court follows state law when determining the bounds
of the federal court's personal jurisdiction. Walden
v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277, 283 (2014). Because
Minnesota's long-arm statute extends jurisdiction to the
maximum limit permitted by due process, a federal court in
Minnesota must determine only 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 a non-resident defendant to have sufficient
minimum contacts with the forum state such that “the
maintenance of the lawsuit 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).
“[T]he plaintiff cannot be the only link between the
defendant and the forum.” Walden v. Fiore, 571
U.S. 277, 285 (2014). Sufficient minimum contacts exist when
a defendant has engaged in an 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). The
nature of 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 297. When, as
here, a plaintiff asserts that a defendant is subject to
specific personal jurisdiction, a district court may
adjudicate causes of action “arising from or related to
the defendant's actions in the forum state.”
Wessels, 65 F.3d at 1432 n.4.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
considers five factors to determine the sufficiency of a
defendant's contacts with the forum state: (1) the nature
and quality of contacts, (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 are given “primary” importance, whereas
the last two are “secondary.” See 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).
alleged contacts between Farmers Propane and Minnesota are
analyzed under each of the Land-O-Nod factors,
Nature and ...