United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER DENYING CLARKSON DAVIS'S MOTION TO DISMISS
OR TRANSFER VENUE
SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR.UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Clarkson Davis's Motion to
Dismiss, or Transfer Venue, ECF No. 27. Driver and Defendants
Courtyard Spokane Downtown at the Convention Center,
Courtyard Management Corporation and MarCourt Investment
Incorporated (collectively, Courtyard Defendants) oppose the
motion, and all parties, with the exception of Defendant
Jason Pedigo, submitted briefing in support of their
positions. The Court held a hearing on December 12, 2017, and
took the matter under advisement.
Davis argues that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction and
that venue in the Eastern District of Washington is improper.
In the alternative, Clarkson Davis moves for discretionary
transfer of venue to the Northern District of Texas under 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a). Driver and the Courtyard Defendants
oppose the motion on all grounds. Because Clarkson Davis
purposefully directed its business towards Washington State
and a substantial portion of the events giving rise to
Driver's claims took place in Spokane, Washington,
Clarkson Davis's jurisdictional arguments fail. Although
the considerations governing discretionary transfer are more
evenly balanced, the interest of justice ultimately favors
retaining all claims in this District. Accordingly,
Clarkson-Davis's motion is denied in full.
27, 2016, Jason Pedigo attempted to spy on his then-coworker
Rechael Driver while on a business trip in Spokane,
Washington. Both Driver and Pedigo were employed by Clarkson
Davis, a small Texas-based consulting firm. See ECF
No. 42 at 2-3.
to a 2015 Consulting Services Agreement with the nonprofit
Feeding America, Clarkson Davis provided consulting services
to food banks throughout the nation. ECF No. 27-1 at 3. When
necessary, Clarkson Davis would send its employees on
business trips to consult with the nonprofit food banks
designated by Feeding America. Id. at 3-4.
of her job duties, Driver was required to travel to meet with
potential clients across the United States. See ECF
No. 42 at 2-3. Both Driver and Pedigo stayed at the Courtyard
Spokane on at least two occasions prior to the July 28, 2016
incident. ECF No. 53 at 2.
25, 2017, Driver and Pedigo traveled to Spokane on behalf of
Clarkson Davis to consult with Washington-based organizations
selected by Feeding America. ECF No. 42 at 2. Driver and
Pedigo were scheduled to stay at the Courtyard Spokane for
three nights, from July 25 through July 28, 2016. ECF No. 53
at 2. They were housed in adjoining rooms, which were
separated by a locked door. Id.
27, 2017, Pedigo spied on Driver by inserting a flexible,
scope-like spy camera under the door separating their
adjoining rooms. ECF No. 43-2. Driver discovered the scope
and called the police, who arrested Pedigo. See ECF
learning of the incident, Clarkson Davis terminated
Pedigo's employment. ECF No. 27-1 at 3. Driver returned
home to California to spend time with her family.
Id. Clarkson Davis alleges that Driver failed to
respond to its requests to establish a formal “return
to work date.” Id. On August 15, 2016,
Clarkson Davis terminated Driver's employment. ECF No. 1
August 28, 2017, Driver filed two lawsuits, one in the
Eastern District of Washington, and one in the Northern
District of Texas. These lawsuits are based on the same
underlying facts, however the suit in the Eastern District of
Washington includes the Courtyard Defendants.
Burden of Proof and Evidence Considered
there is no statutory method for resolving a motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, district courts
have broad discretion in selecting a mode of determination.
See Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assocs., Inc., 557
F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 1977). The Court may resolve the
matter on the pleadings and affidavits, or it may consider
discovery materials. “If a plaintiff's proof is
limited to written materials, it is necessary only for these
materials to demonstrate a prima facie showing of
jurisdiction.” Id. However, “if the
pleadings and other submitted materials raise issues of
credibility or other disputed questions of fact regarding
jurisdiction, the district court has the discretion to take
evidence at a preliminary hearing to resolve the contested
issues.” Id. In this situation, the plaintiff
must establish the jurisdictional facts by a preponderance of
the evidence. Id.
it is possible to resolve the motion to dismiss on written
materials alone. Accordingly, Driver must establish only a
prima facie case for personal jurisdiction over Clarkson