United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION AND FORUM NON
CONVENIENS [ECF NO. 20]
P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Ponder sues defendant Hans-Peter Wild for several
claims arising out of Ponder's tenure as Wild's
employee. Ponder previously sued Wild in this court, but
Judge Mahan dismissed Ponder's first complaint for lack
of personal jurisdiction and later denied him leave to file
an amended complaint. Wild now moves to dismiss Ponder's
newest complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and
forum non conveniens. Wild does not have sufficient
contacts with Nevada that give rise to Ponder's claims.
Therefore, I cannot exercise jurisdiction over Wild and I
must grant the motion to dismiss for lack of personal
joined one of Wild's businesses, Wild Flavors, Inc.
(WFI), in 1998. ECF No. 1 at 2. In 2010, he became Global CEO
of WILD Flavors GmbH (WILD), a Swiss company. Id. at
3. During a dinner at Wild's house in Zug, Switzerland,
Wild promised Ponder that if he successfully sold WILD, Wild
would personally pay Ponder $3 million in addition to
whatever compensation he received from WILD. Id. at
4. Ponder successfully sold the company, but Wild rescinded
his promise at another dinner in Zug and refused to pay
Ponder the $3 million. Id. at 8. At other times,
Wild also failed to compensate Ponder for guidance on
relations with the German government; security services in
the Middle East, India, and Asia; and services rendered to
Wild's Europe-based machinery and Capri Sun beverage
businesses. Id. at 5-9.
their relationship deteriorated, Ponder and Wild engaged in a
contentious email exchange regarding, among many other
things, Ponder's uncompensated activities. Id.
at 10; ECF No. 1-1. Ponder alleges that Wild copied other
individuals, including the CEO of the United State Marine
Corp Scholarship Fund, other WILD executives, and business
associate Susan Ricci, to harm and embarrass to Ponder. ECF
No. 1 at 10. However, the exchange indicates that Ricci
initiated it and included many of the WILD executives in her
initial message. ECF No. 1-1.
has lived in Nevada since 2006. ECF No. 1 at 3. Wild resides
in Zug, Switzerland. Id. at 2, 4. Wild frequently
traveled to the United States. Id. at 3. Ponder
points to Wild's personal relationship with a
Nevada-licensed attorney and membership at the Southern
Highlands Golf Club as evidence of Wild's strong
connection to Nevada. ECF Nos. 26 at 5; 26-1; 26-4. Wild also
owned three companies incorporated in Nevada, but he states
in his declaration that Ponder caused the incorporation of
these entities in Nevada and that Wild does not recall taking
any actions as an officer of these companies. Id. at
4; ECF No. 32-2.
first filed suit in October 2016, asserting seven causes of
action. Ponder v. Wild, 16-cv-02305-JCM-PAL (D. Nev.
2016), ECF No. 1. Judge Mahan dismissed that complaint for
lack of personal jurisdiction. Ponder v. Wild, No.
2:16-CV-2305-JCM-PAL, 2017 WL 1536165 (D. Nev. Apr. 26,
2017). Ponder then moved for leave to amend, but Judge Mahan
denied the motion because his proposed amended complaint
failed to state a claim for defamation and failed to
adequately plead personal jurisdiction. Ponder v.
Wild, No. 2:16-CV-2305-JCM-PAL, 2018 WL 473003 (D. Nev.
Jan. 18, 2018). Ponder then filed this suit in October 2018,
asserting causes of action for breach of contract, breach of
the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust
enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation, conversion,
defamation, and punitive damages. ECF No. 1. Wild now moves
to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. ECF No. 20.
defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction
on the basis of written materials rather than an evidentiary
hearing, I must determine whether plaintiff's
“pleadings and affidavits make a prima facie showing of
personal jurisdiction.” Schwarzenegger v. Fred
Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004)
(quotation omitted). In deciding whether a plaintiff has met
his burden, I must accept as true the uncontroverted
allegations in his complaint, but a plaintiff cannot rest on
the “bare allegations” of his complaint.
Id. (quotation omitted). Conflicts between parties
over statements contained in affidavits must be resolved in
the plaintiff's favor. Id.
no federal statute governs personal jurisdiction, the
district court applies the law of the forum state.”
Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir.
2008). Ponder argues that because I must apply the law of the
forum state, I should look to language in decisions of the
Supreme Court of Nevada that he claims is more permissive
than the federal standard after Walden v. Fiore, 571
U.S. 277 (2014). ECF No. 26 at 11-15. But the United States
Supreme Court applied Nevada law in Walden. 571 U.S.
at 283. Because “Nevada's jurisdictional statute
allows for personal jurisdiction ‘over a party to a
civil action on any basis not inconsistent with the
Constitution of this state or the Constitution of the United
States[, ]' Nev. Rev. Stat. § 14.065, [I] apply the
federal standard for personal jurisdiction.” Gunn
v. Wild, 771 Fed.Appx. 392, 392 (9th Cir. 2019) (citing
Walden, 571 U.S. at 283).
the federal standard, “[f]or a court to exercise
personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, that
defendant must have at least minimum contacts with the
relevant forum such that the exercise of jurisdiction does
not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.” Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d, at 801.
“There are two forms of personal jurisdiction that a
forum state may exercise over a nonresident defendant-general
jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction.”
Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1016.
court may assert general jurisdiction over [a defendant] when
[his] affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous
and systematic' as to render [him] essentially at home in
the forum State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations,
S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011). “For an
individual, the paradigm forum for the exercise of general
jurisdiction is the individual's domicile . . . .”
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 137 (2014).
argues that Wild's domicile is an “issue of
fact” and that Wild's substantial contacts with
Nevada render him at home here. ECF No. 26 at 8-11. But
Ponder concedes in his complaint that Wild resides in
Switzerland. ECF No. 1 at 2. Wild's alleged contacts with
Nevada include his decision to file a lawsuit in Nevada, his
membership at the Southern Highlands Golf Club, and his
personal relationship with a Nevada-licensed attorney. ECF
Nos. 26 at 9; 26-4. These contacts do not “render
[Wild] essentially at home” in Nevada. If they did,
they would also render him at home in multiple other
jurisdictions because Wild's girlfriend is also licensed
in California and Wild has been a member of at least eight
golf clubs in seven states and countries. ECF Nos. 26-4;
32-2. I cannot exercise general jurisdiction over Wild.
Indeed, the Ninth Circuit affirmed Judge Mahan's decision
that he could not exercise general jurisdiction ...