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Harris v. Dzurenda

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 9, 2019

GREGORY HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES DZURENDA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiff Gregory Harris brings this civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as an individual incarcerated in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections (“NDOC”) and currently housed at Saguaro Correctional Center (“SCC”), a private prison in Arizona. SCC is operated by a company called CoreCivic. Before the Court are the CoreCivic Defendants'[1] motion to dismiss (ECF No. 36) and the NDOC Defendants'[2] motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 50). The Court has reviewed the responses (ECF Nos. 46, 57) and replies (ECF Nos. 49, 58) thereto. For the following reasons, the Court grants both motions.[3]

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court allowed Plaintiff to proceed with the following claims after screening: (1) an interference with outgoing mail claim against NDOC Defendants Dzurenda, Carpenter, and Sandie; (2) a deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against NDOC Defendants Dzurenda and Aranas; and (3) a retaliation claim against all NDOC Defendants and CoreCivic Defendants.[4] (ECF No. 7 at 10.)

         III. CORECIVIC DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF NO. 36)

         A. Relevant Background

         As noted, Plaintiff currently is incarcerated at SCC located in Arizona. (ECF No. 8 at 1.) Defendant Thomas is the Warden of SCC and resides in Arizona. (ECF No. 36-1 at 2.) CoreCivic owns and operates SCC under a correctional service agreement with the state of Nevada. (Id. at 2-3.) Defendant Hininger is CoreCivic's chief executive officer and resides in Tennessee. (Id. at 5.) The CoreCivic Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's retaliation claim against them for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2).[5] (ECF No. 36 at 2-8.)

         B. Discussion

         A two-part analysis governs whether a court retains personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. “First, the exercise of jurisdiction must satisfy the requirements of the applicable state long-arm statute.” Chan v. Soc'y Expeditions, Inc., 39 F.3d 1398, 1404 (9th Cir. 1994). Because “Nevada's long-arm statute, NRS § 14.065, reaches the limits of due process set by the United States Constitution, ” the Court moves on to the second part of the analysis. See Baker v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court ex rel. Cty. of Clark, 999 P.2d 1020, 1023 (Nev. 2000). “Second, the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with federal due process.” Chan, 39 F.3d at 1404-05. “Due process requires that nonresident defendants have certain minimum contacts with the forum state so that the exercise of jurisdiction does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Id. (citing Int'l Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Courts analyze this constitutional question with reference to two forms of jurisdiction: general and specific jurisdiction.

         Plaintiff does not seem to argue that the Court has general jurisdiction over the CoreCivic Defendants. (See ECF No. 46 at 3 (“[The CoreCivic Defendants] have availed themselves to [sic] the privilege(s) of conducting regular activities in and with the State of Nevada, and . . . have agreed to terms within their contract with the State of Nevada, it's [sic] agent N.D.O.C., Which satisfy the specific Jurisdiction Requirements.”).) However, even if Plaintiff intends to argue that the Court has general jurisdiction over the CoreCivic Defendants, he has failed to satisfy the “exacting standard” for general jurisdiction. Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Techs., Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1224 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 801 (9th Cir. 2004)). “To determine whether a nonresident defendant's contacts are sufficiently substantial, continuous, and systematic, [courts] consider their ‘[l]ongevity, continuity, volume, economic impact, physical presence, and integration into the state's regulatory or economic markets.'” CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc., 653 F.3d 1066, 1074 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Tuazon v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 433 F.3d 1163, 1172 (9th Cir. 2006)). Here, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Hininger “is CEO of Core-Civic, which operates at least one facility in Nevada, and has done so for [several] years.” (ECF No. 46 at 3.) Plaintiff also asserts that Defendant Hininger “is in Nevada, at that facility for regular inspections and business.” (Id.) The Court is unpersuaded that these contacts are sufficient in terms of length, continuity, volume, and other characteristics to support general jurisdiction over Defendant Hininger, much less Defendant Thomas. Accordingly, the Court will consider whether specific jurisdiction over the CoreCivic Defendants exists.

         Specific jurisdiction exists where “[a] nonresident defendant's discrete, isolated contacts with the forum support jurisdiction on a cause of action arising directly out of its forum contacts.” CollegeSource, 653 F.3d at 1075. In the Ninth Circuit, courts use a three-prong test to determine whether specific jurisdiction exists over a particular cause of action: “(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 forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e., it must be reasonable.” Id. at 1076 (quoting Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802). The first prong, alternatively called purposeful availment or purposeful direction, is often determinative. See Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme Et L'Antisemitisme, 433 F.3d 1199, 1206 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc). In addition, the party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of demonstrating only the first two prongs. CollegeSource, 653 F.3d at 1076 (citing Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990)). If it does so, the burden shifts to the party challenging jurisdiction to set forth a “compelling case” that the exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable. Id. (quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476-78 (1985)).

         Plaintiff first argues that the CoreCivic Defendants have subjected themselves to specific jurisdiction based on CoreCivic's contract with the state of Nevada. (ECF No. 46 at 3-5.) The Court rejects this argument because Plaintiff has not adduced evidence that the CoreCivic Defendants personally-as opposed to CoreCivic itself-are parties to the contract.

         Plaintiff also argues that Defendant Hininger has subjected himself to specific jurisdiction by visiting CoreCivic's Nevada facility for regular inspections and business. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff does not support this allegation with any admissible evidence. Moreover, Plaintiff's claims do not arise from Hininger's visits to CoreCivic's Nevada facility. Plaintiff has not alleged that he was ever incarcerated at CoreCivic's Nevada facility. Accordingly, the Court rejects this argument.

         Plaintiff also asks the Court for an opportunity to conduct discovery to establish facts supporting specific jurisdiction. (ECF No. 46 at 5.) However, Plaintiff has not identified specific facts that he would seek to establish during discovery to demonstrate personal jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Court denies this request.

         For these reasons, the Court grants the CoreCivic Defendants' motion to dismiss ...


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