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Daley v. Greystar Management Services LP

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

July 24, 2019

RYAN DALEY, an individual; and ISAAK CURRY, an individual, each on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
GREYSTAR REAL ESTATE PARTNERS LLC, a Delaware limited liability company; GREYSTAR MANAGEMENT SERVICES LP, a Delaware corporation; and GREYSTAR RS WEST LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT GREYSTAR REAL ESTATE PARTNERS LLC'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

          SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court, without oral argument, is Defendant Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC's (“GREP”) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, ECF No. 36. Plaintiffs Ryan Daley and Isaak Curry oppose the motion. ECF No. 37. Having reviewed the pleadings and the file in this matter, the Court is fully informed and denies the motion because Plaintiffs have demonstrated facts that, if true, would support exercising specific jurisdiction over GREP.

         BACKGROUND

         The complaint alleges that Plaintiffs and a putative class applied to rent units in Spokane, Washington apartment complexes owned or managed by Defendants individually and collectively. ECF No. 35 at 9. Plaintiffs paid Defendants nonrefundable prospective tenant screening fees and Defendants obtained prospective tenant screening reports on Plaintiffs. Id. at 9-10. Each application and screening process occurred on the internet. Id. at 9.

         Defendants' standard disclosures listed four consumer reporting agencies from which they might possibly obtain screening information about Plaintiffs. Id. at 10. But Defendants ultimately obtained such information from additional or alternative sources not disclosed to Plaintiffs before they paid screening fees. Id. at 10-11. Further, Defendants failed to disclose whether they would accept comprehensive reusable prospective tenant screening reports on Plaintiffs. Id. at 11.

         The complaint asserts causes of action for violations of the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act of 1973, chapter 59.18 of the Revised Code of Washington; and unjust enrichment. Id. at 11-15.

         GREP is a limited liability company incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in South Carolina. ECF No. 19 at 1. GREP is “a parent corporation with subsidiaries, ” id., including Defendants Greystar Management Services LP and Greystar RS West LLC, ECF No. 35 at 5-6. The complaint alleges GREP's subsidiaries are its agents and all acts they perform are done on its behalf and at its direction. Id. Further, the complaint alleges GREP does not distinguish between itself and its subsidiaries in materials it makes available online or in print. Id. at 7. Indeed, GREP represents to the public that it is a manager of residential properties in Washington. Id. In a 2015 lawsuit over property management practices in Washington, specifically tactics used to collect charges from former tenants after they moved out, one of GREP's subsidiaries, also involved as a defendant here, had answered the complaint stating the correct defendant was “Greystar Real Estate Partners, LP.” Id. at 6. Defendants have not materially altered the scope of their functions and responsibilities since 2015. Id. at 7.

         The complaint alleges Defendants maintain websites for all their rental properties. Id. at 14. These websites advertise Defendants' rental properties and provide information for prospective tenants. Id. Despite local property managers operating their own websites, prospective tenants were directed to GREP's website-greystar.com-for application and payment processing. Id. at 4. GREP owned or operated that website until sometime around February 2019, when title vested in Greystar Worldwide LLC. Id.; ECF No. 30 at 2. Thus, GREP controlled the disclosures provided to prospective tenants on that website. ECF No. 35 at 8.

         In this context, the complaint alleges the following key points relevant here:

• GREP is “engaged in the business of managing rental properties in Washington State, ” id. at 3; ECF No. 37 at 3;
• GREP “and its agents and employees are in the business of renting or leasing residential real estate in Washington State, ” ECF No. 35 at 3; ECF No. 37 at 3;
• GREP “uses its website for online leasing of residential properties in Washington State, ” ECF No. 35 at 4; ECF No. 37 at 3;
• GREP is “an owner, lessor, sublessor, or the designated representative of the owner, lessor, or sublessor, or an agent, resident manager, or a designated property manager for multiple dwelling units, or the property of which the dwelling unit is a part, throughout Washington State, ” ECF No. 35 at 4; ECF No. 37 at 3; and
• GREP “substantially controls its subsidiary's activities by engaging in property management and corresponding services for all its subsidiary's properties nationwide, including instituting uniform procedures for property management and tenant relations, ” ECF No. 35 at 4; ECF No. 37 at 3.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of showing the Court has jurisdiction over the defendant. Wash. Shoe Co. v. A-Z Sporting Goods Inc., 704 F.3d 668, 671 (9th Cir. 2012). Where, as here, the Court holds no evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff “need only make a ‘prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss.'” Id. at 671-72 (quoting Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy, 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006)). To make this showing, the plaintiff “need only demonstrate facts that if true would support jurisdiction over the defendant.” Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs. v. Bell & Clements Ltd., 328 F.3d 1122, ...


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