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Burgess v. Michigan State University

November 18, 1996

TYLER BURGESS, RESPONDENT,
v.
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, KATHIE KLAGES, AND DOE 1 - DOE 20, PETITIONERS.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 96-2-03616-1. Date filed: 08/16/96. Judge signing: Hon. Charles V. Johnson.

Petition for Review Denied May 7, 1997,

PER CURIAM. Michigan State University recruited Tyler Burgess, a Washington resident, to enroll at MSU and to join its Women's gymnastics team. While at MSU, Burgess alleges she was orally abused by the coaching staff, that she was forced to engage in gymnastics practices while ill, and that she received poor medical care for injuries suffered in practice. Burgess sued MSU and her former coaches in Washington alleging common law tort and breach of contract claims. Arguing that the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over them, defendants moved to dismiss. The trial court denied that motion and defendants seek discretionary review under RAP 2.3, arguing that the court committed obvious or probable error.

We grant discretionary review and accelerate review under RAP 18.12. Because Burgess fails to make a prima facie showing that defendants either transacted business or committed a tortious act in this state, we reverse.

FACTS

In 1992, Burgess was a top gymnast and student at Interlake High

School in Redmond, Washington. Kathie Klages, the head coach of MSU's women's gymnastics team, initiated contact with Burgess by letter. She sent a total of nine letters to Burgess. Klages also called Burgess several times. Burgess had a number of offers from other schools including the University of Washington. After Burgess visited MSU's campus, she accepted MSU's full athletic scholarship offer. Burgess signed a form National Letter of Intent in Washington.

Upon arriving at MSU, Burgess alleges she "felt ill" but that Klages insisted that she participate in training exercises. Later, Assistant Coach Chuck Shiebler allegedly changed the practice mats without telling Burgess, and she fell and hurt her knee. Klages and Shiebler "coerced" her to continue practicing and failed to provide her medical care causing her injury to worsen.

The next year Burgess was unable to perform, gymnastically, at her full potential. In November 1995, Burgess told Klages that she intended to relinquish her scholarship at the end of the year and transfer to the University of Washington. Burgess alleges that Klages later "verbally accosted" her, causing her to fall and hurt her elbow. She also alleges that Klages coerced her to sign a letter acknowledging that she was voluntarily leaving the program.

Burgess sued MSU, Klages and Shiebler in Washington alleging common law and contract causes of action for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of contract, and interference with prospective economic advantages. *fn1

Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or alternatively based on the doctrines of forum non conveniens and comity. The trial court denied the motion.

DECISION

Specific Jurisdiction Under the Long-Arm Statute

Burgess concedes that general jurisdiction does not exist over defendants. She argues that specific jurisdiction exists, however, under RCW 4.28.185, Washington's long-arm statute. This statute allows Washington courts to exercise jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant if the cause of action arises from defendant's activities in Washington. *fn2 It reaches as far as due ...


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