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Ultramax Products Ltd. v. Mitchell

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 2, 2019

ULTRAMAX PRODUCTS LTD., A United Kingdom Limited Company, Plaintiff,
ANTHONY MICHAEL MITCHELL, An individual residing in Nevada, Defendant.



         The Defendant, claiming to be unrepresented, [1] filed two motions contemporaneously: Motion to Quash (ECF No. 14) and Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 15). In these motions, the Defendant asks this Court to quash service and to dismiss the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 12(b). Together the motions raise the defenses: (1) lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, (2) lack of personal jurisdiction, (3) improper venue, and (4) insufficient service of process. The Court finds that all of the defenses are meritless and denies the Defendant's motions.

         The Plaintiff raises six counts against the Defendant under federal intellectual property law and one count under Nevada law for deceptive trade practices and false advertising. The Defendant did not file anything in this case besides these motions, more than seven weeks after the Plaintiff submitted an affidavit that service was executed. The failure to file anything for seven weeks after service raises concerns about timeliness. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(1)(A)(i) (allotting twenty-one days to file an answer). The Court does not presently address timeliness, since the motions raise issues that could void a default judgment were the Court to grant one. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4).


         Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

         Federal courts are courts of limited subject-matter jurisdiction and only have the power to hear cases under the authority of the Constitution or statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The party asserting that federal jurisdiction is proper bears the burden of proving the presumption against it. Id. FRCP 12(b)(1) provides an affirmative defense for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. When a federal court concludes that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3); Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006).

         One avenue for a federal court to find subject-matter jurisdiction is federal question jurisdiction. This type of jurisdiction allows a federal court to hear “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. “Arising under” requires that the plaintiff's complaint raises federal causes of action-defenses and counterclaims are not relevant. In re Border Infrastructure Envtl. Litig., 915 F.3d 1213, 1222 (9th Cir. 2019) (citing Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908)).

         If a Plaintiff raises causes of action under both federal and state law, then the Court may, in its discretion, invoke supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. In order for supplemental jurisdiction to be proper, the “state and federal claims must derive from a common nucleus of operative fact.” United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725 (1966).

         Personal Jurisdiction

         A defendant may move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). Jurisdiction exists if: (1) provided for by law and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process. See Greenspun v. Del E. Webb Corp., 634 F.2d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 1980). When no federal statute governs personal jurisdiction, a federal court applies the law of the forum state. See Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008). Where a state has a “long-arm” statute providing its courts' jurisdiction to the fullest extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as Nevada does, Southport Lane Equity II, LLC v. Downey, 177 F.Supp.3d 1286, 1290 (D. Nev. 2016), a court need only address federal due process standards, see Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1015. Thus, the exercise of personal jurisdiction in Nevada need only comport with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         There are two categories of personal jurisdiction: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. In the mid-to-late-Twentieth Century, the federal courts developed a rule that general jurisdiction existed over a defendant in any state with which the defendant had “substantial” or “continuous and systematic” contacts such that the assertion of personal jurisdiction over him would be constitutionally fair even where the claims at issue were unrelated to those contacts. See Tuazon v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 433 F.3d 1163, 1171 (9th Cir. 2006).

         Even where there is no general jurisdiction over a defendant, specific jurisdiction exists when there are sufficient contacts with the forum state such that the assertion of personal jurisdiction “does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). The Ninth Circuit has developed a three-part test for specific jurisdiction:

(1) The non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the ...

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