United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER FINDING NO PERSONAL JURISDICTION AND
Barbara Jacobs Rothstein U.S. District Court Judge
(J.A.A. or Plaintiff) brings this action for negligence
against Defendant Rawlings Company, LLC (Rawlings) based upon
Rawlings's alleged negligent training and supervision of
one of Rawlings's employees. Presently before the Court
is Rawlings's motion to dismiss or change venue.
See ECF No. 9. J.A.A. opposes the request.
See ECF No. 13. Rawlings's motion challenges
this Court's jurisdiction over it. After considering the
parties' submissions, the record of the case, and the
relevant legal authorities, the Court decides that it is in
the interest of justice that the case be transferred to the
Western District of Kentucky.
is a Kentucky corporation with its principal place of
business in La Grange, Kentucky, an office in Florence,
Kentucky, and an office in Van Nuys, California. ECF. No. 7
at 1. Rawlings provides subrogation outsourcing and other
services to healthcare clients throughout the country,
including Premera Blue Cross, Plaintiffs insurance company.
ECF No. 1 at 2. To perform its services, Rawlings receives
paid insurance claims data from its health insurance clients
and then sends out collection notices based on that data. ECF
No. 17 at 1. Paid insurance claims data received by Rawlings
does not include medical chart notes. Id. The
insurance data is stored on Rawlings's servers in
Kentucky and Georgia. Id.
7, 2016, Plaintiff, then a resident of King County,
Washington and now a resident of New Jersey, met
Rawlings's employee, Brandon Ray (Mr. Ray or employee) at
the Kentucky Derby. ECF No. 1 at 1-2; ECF No. 26 at 1. Their
relationship became romantic. Id. Mr. Ray revealed
to Plaintiff on April 30, 2018 that he looked through
Plaintiffs "medical history" while at work.
Id. at 3. On May 1, 2018, Mr. Ray told Plaintiff
that he regularly accessed medical records unrelated to his
work. Id. at 4. As a result of this disclosure,
Plaintiff brings this suit for negligence and breach of
contract by Rawlings. Id. at 1.
must dismiss a claim for lack of personal jurisdiction over
the Defendant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). When
the defendant moves to dismiss a complaint for lack of
personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing that jurisdiction is appropriate. Sher v.
Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990). The court
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(2) motion for lack of personal
jurisdiction must take as true the allegations of the
non-moving party and resolve all factual disputes in its
favor. See Dole Food Co. v. Watts, 303 F.3d 1104,
1107 (9th Cir 2002). When there is no applicable federal
statute governing personal jurisdiction, the district court
must apply the law of the state in which it sits.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A); Hylwa, M.D.,
Inc. v. Palka, 823 F.2d 310, 312 (9th Cir. 1987).
Washington's long-arm statute is coextensive with federal
due process. See Shute v. Carnival Cruise Lines, 113
Wn.2d 763, 771 (Wash. 1989). Therefore, the court need only
determine whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction is
consistent with federal due process limits under the 14th
Amendment. Chan v. Society Expeditions, Inc., 39
F.3d 1398, 1404-05 (9th Cir. 1994).
argues that it is not subject to the jurisdiction of this
Court and, therefore, this suit should be dismissed or
transferred pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3) (improper
venue). Plaintiff opposes Rawlings's assertion that there
is an absence of personal jurisdiction and asserts, to the
contrary, that this Court has specific and/or general
jurisdiction over Rawlings. A. General Jurisdiction
Rawlings alleges in its motion that it is not subject to
personal jurisdiction in Washington via the theory of general
jurisdiction. In support of its contention, Rawlings notes
that 1) it has no offices in the state and 2) its conduct is
not sufficiently continuous or systematic to warrant
jurisdiction. Plaintiff argues that Rawlings's contacts
with Washington are sufficiently continuous and systematic to
subject it to general jurisdiction within the state. ECF No.
13 at 7.
obtains general jurisdiction over a defendant when that
defendant has its place of incorporation in the forum, its
principal place of business within the forum, or continuous
and systematic contacts with the forum. See Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 137 (2014). In this case,
Rawlings's principal place of business is in La Grange,
Kentucky, and its other two offices are in Florence, Kentucky
and Van Nuys, California. ECF. No. 7 at 1. There is no
evidence that either Rawlings's principal place of
business or its place of incorporation is within the state of
defendant's place of incorporation and principal place of
business is outside of the forum, the standard for proving
the existence of general jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant is "fairly high. . ." Brand v.
Menlove Dodge, 796 F.2d 1070, 1073 (9th Cir. 1986);
see also Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, SA. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 418 (1984) (finding no general
jurisdiction in Texas where defendant bought 80% of its parts
over four years for its products, accepted bank account
checks drawn on a Houston bank, sent its executive for
travel, and sent employees for training); Bancroft &
Masters, Inc. v. Augusta Nat'l Inc., 223 F.3d 1082,
1086 (9th Cir. 2000) (finding that Georgia defendant's
several license agreements with television networks and
vendors in California and regular telephone calls were
insufficient to establish general jurisdiction). And the
contacts that suffice for general jurisdiction are thoroughly
systematic and continuous. See Perkins v. Benguet Consol.
Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 447-48 (1952) (holding that a
Philippine corporation was subject to the general
jurisdiction of Ohio because its president- also the general
manager and principal stockholder-ran the corporate office
from his home in Ohio, handling correspondence, business
files, directors' meetings, and major financial matters
in the state and through its banks).
principal contact with Washington, its regular mailing of
collection notices from its office in Kentucky to Washington
residents, is not a sufficient basis for asserting general
jurisdiction over the company. ECF No. 15 at 2. Mailing
collection notices simply do not rise to the all-encompassing
corporate activity the Supreme Court found indicative of
general jurisdiction in Perkins, where the
Philippine corporate defendant's president operated the
corporation from his home in Ohio. See Perkins, 342
U.S. at 447-48; ECF No. 15 at 2. Rawlings's notices are
similar to defendant's activities in Bancroft,
where the court held that phone calls and letters "are
not activities which support a finding of general
jurisdiction." See Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v.
Augusta Nat'l, Inc., 45 F.Supp.2d 777, 781 (N.D.
Cal. 1998) (quoting Gates Lear jet Corp. v. Jensen,
743 F.2dl325, 1331 (9th Cir. 1984)); ECF No. 15 at 3.
unlike in Helicopteros, where the defendant's
employees and executives frequently traveled to the forum for
business, there is no evidence that Rawlings has any
employees based in, or that travel to, Washington. See
Helicoptervs, 466 U.S. at 418; ECF No. 7 at 1. Even
Rawlings's collection notices - the only contacts with
the forum of which this Court is aware -are payable to its
office in La Grange, KY, not a bank in the forum as was the
case in Perkins. See Perkins, 342 U.S. at 447-48
(finding that defendant's payment of his employees'
salaries from an Ohio bank account contributed to the finding
of general jurisdiction); ECF No. 15 at 2.
contact with Washington constitutes "commerce with
residents of the forum state," but "is not in and
of itself the kind of activity that approximates physical
presence within the state's borders."
Bancroft, 223 F.3d at 1086. The Court concludes that
without a showing of sufficiently continuous and systematic
contacts, Rawlings is not within the general jurisdiction of
this Court. B. Specific Jurisdiction Plaintiff avers
that because Rawlings purposefully directed its activities
toward Washington and through its work for Premera obtained
and improperly used her Personal Health Information (PHI),
this Court has personal ...