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Griffin v. City of Lake Elsinore

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 28, 2017

STANTON CAMPBELL GRIFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF LAKE ELSINORE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Kent J. Dawson, United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (#8). Plaintiff, Stanton Campbell Griffin, responded (#15), to which Defendants replied (#23). I. Background Plaintiff, Stanton Campbell Griffin, received a parking ticket in Lake Elsinore, California in March 2014. Griffin unsuccessfully challenged the parking ticket in California municipal courts through numerous appeals. Griffin alleges that no signs were posted indicating that parking was not permitted at the time he was ticketed. Having been denied what he considered justice on his parking ticket complaint, Griffin has filed this case alleging numerous violations of his constitutional rights by those involved in his parking ticket grievance.

         All defendants are California residents or entities. The City of Lake Elsinore (“City”), is a municipality in Riverside County, California. Fred Lopez is a City employee and issued the ticket. John Van Doren is a hearing officer for the City. The Citation Processing Center is in Newport Beach, California. Diana Giron is a Deputy City Clerk. Leah Park is a City employee. Robert Rancourt, Elaine Kiefer, and Albert Wokcik are judges in Riverside County. Senator Pamela D. Harris represents California in Congress. Mr. Beardsley's position and role as a defendant are unclear.

         Griffin filed his Complaint (#1) in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada on March 14, 2017. Defendants have now moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue.

         II. Analysis

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377(1994). Before the merits of the case may be considered, the Court must determine if it has jurisdiction and if the suit has been filed in the proper venue.

         A. Personal Jurisdiction

         The Fourteenth Amendment limits the personal jurisdiction of state courts. See, e.g., World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291 (1980); International Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Compensation and Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 316-317 (1945); Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 733 (1878). Federal courts follow state law in determining the bounds of their personal jurisdiction. Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121 (2014) (quoting Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 753 (2014). Nevada's long arm statute extends to the limits of the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment limits. See Nev. Rev. Stat. § 14.065.

         Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction, either general or specific. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011). General jurisdiction applies when a party's relationship with the forum is systematic and continuous, and the party is essentially “at home” in the state. Id.; see also International Shoe, 326 U.S., at 317. Specific personal jurisdiction depends on an affiliation between the forum and the parties that relates to the underlying controversy. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011).

         “On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff has the burden to establish jurisdiction.” Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 692 (9th Cir. 2001). To establish personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the plaintiff must show that: “(1) defendants purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in [Nevada], thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) [their] claims arise out of defendants' [Nevada]-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction would be reasonable.” Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d at 692.

         The Complaint (#1) alleges that Defendants are California residents. There are no allegations that Defendants have connections of any kind to Nevada. Defendants have not “availed themselves” of the laws and benefits of Nevada. Not only are Defendants not “at home” in Nevada, there are no aspects of the current controversy related to Nevada. Griffin's allegations do not arise out of any Nevada-related activities, as the ticket and appeals all occurred in California, particularly in the City of Lake Elsinore. Nevada courts do not have jurisdiction over Defendants for this controversy.

         When defendants challenge jurisdiction in their motion to dismiss, the burden is on the plaintiff to establish jurisdiction. See Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 692 (9th Cir. 2001). By failing to address arguments in an opposition, a party effectively concedes a claim, making dismissal proper. See Jenkins v. County of Riverside, 398 F.3d 1093, 1095 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2005); see also Walsh v. Nev. Dep't of Human Res., 471 F.3d 1033, 1037 (9th Cir. 2006) (where opposition to a motion to dismiss failed to address arguments in the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff effectively abandoned the claim to relief).

         Griffin's response to Defendants' motion to dismiss does not address the Court's lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendants. It is Griffin's burden to establish the jurisdiction of this Court. See Lee, 250 F.3d at 692. The Court agrees with Defendants that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction. Further, absent any opposition or argument from Griffin that the Court does have jurisdiction, per Jenkins, dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction is appropriate. Therefore, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         B. ...


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