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Gonzalez v. Crete Carrier Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 20, 2019

JOHN P. GONZALEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CRETE CARRIER CORPORATION, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Crete Carrier Corporation's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 13). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein.

         I.BACKGROUND

         Defendant is an irregular route motor carrier engaged in interstate commerce nationwide. (Dkt. No. 13 at 2.) Plaintiff John Gonzalez is a Washington resident and former employee of Defendant who worked as a driver out of Defendant's Utah terminal. (Dkt. No. 1-2 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to pay Plaintiff and others similarly situated for rest periods and all non-productive activities, in violation of Washington law. (Id. at 2.)

         Defendant is a Nebraska corporation, with its headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Id. at 3.) It has no offices in Washington, is not registered to do business in Washington, and has not withheld or paid any Washington payroll or taxes. (Dkt. No. 13 at 2.) Instead, it covers those Washington resident drivers who it employs under workers' compensation and unemployment compensation programs of other states. (Id.) Defendant's sole contacts with Washington are two leased parking spaces in Washington and advertisements for its trucking positions in Washington. (Dkt. No. 16 at 8.) Defendant brings this motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or, in the alternative, for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. No. 13.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Dismiss Standard of Review

         When a defendant seeks dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff must show that the exercise of jurisdiction is appropriate. Picot v. Weston, 780 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2015). In assessing whether the plaintiff met his or her burden, the Court must take any uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and resolve any conflicts between the facts in the documentary evidence in the plaintiff's favor. AT&T v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th Cir. 1996). Claims against a defendant must be dismissed when a court lacks personal jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2).

         B. Personal Jurisdiction

         When determining whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant is appropriate, federal courts apply the law of the state in which they sit. Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008). Washington courts are permitted “to exercise jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to the extent permitted by the due process clause of the United States Constitution.” SeaHAVN, Ltd. v. Glitnir Bank, 226 P.3d 141, 149 (Wash.Ct.App. 2010). Thus, the only question for the Court is whether the Court's exercise of jurisdiction comports with the limitations imposed by due process. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 413 (1984).

         Due process permits the Court to “subject a defendant to judgment only when the defendant has sufficient contacts with the sovereign ‘such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” J. McIntyre Mach., Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873, 880 (2011) (citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Fair play and substantial justice mandate that a defendant has minimum contacts with the forum state before it may be haled into a court in that forum. Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316. The extent of these contacts can result in a court possessing either general or specific jurisdiction over the defendant. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011).

         1. General Jurisdiction

         If the state where the court sits can be “fairly regarded as home” to the defendant, general jurisdiction is properly exercised. Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 924. A corporation is at home in any state where it engages “in . . . continuous and systematic general business contacts . . . that approximate physical presence . . . .” Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 801 (9th Cir. 2004). In other words, corporations are most commonly subject to general jurisdiction in the state in which they are incorporated and the state in which their principal place of business is located. Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 121 (2014).

         Plaintiff does not dispute that an exercise of general jurisdiction over Defendant would be improper in Washington. (See Dkt. No. 16 at 5.) Defendant is incorporated and has its principal place of business in Nebraska, and thus cannot be subject to general personal jurisdiction in Washington on these bases. (Dkt. No. 13 at 2.) Additionally, Defendant has no offices, facilities, or operations in Washington such that it could fairly be considered to have sufficient contacts that approximate physical presence in Washington. (See id.); see also Daimler, 571 U.S. at 137 (“[O]nly a limited set of affiliations with a forum ...


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