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Thompson v. PF Chang's China Bistro Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 3, 2018

SIOBHAN THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
PF CHANG'S CHINA BISTRO, INC., Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          MICHAEL P. SHEA, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff Siobhan Thompson brings this suit against defendant PF Chang's China Bistro, Inc. for injuries she allegedly sustained from a slip and fall at a restaurant owned and operated by the defendant in Nashville, Tennessee. The defendant removed the case. Now before me is the defendant's motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) to dismiss this case for lack of personal jurisdiction. In particular, the defendant contends that Connecticut's long arm statute does not reach the defendant and that the Court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant would violate the defendant's due process rights. (ECF No. 11.) I agree with the latter point and therefore conclude that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Rather than dismissing the case, however, I exercise my discretion to transfer it under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The defendant's motion to dismiss is therefore granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         Except where otherwise indicated, these facts are taken from the relevant portions of the complaint.

         The plaintiff is a resident of the State of Connecticut. (ECF No. 1, Exhibit A (“Complaint”) at ¶ 1.) The defendant is “a Delaware corporation which operates a national chain of restaurants, and maintains restaurant locations, undertakes advertising activities and conducts business in multiple states, including the States of Connecticut and Tennessee.” (Id. at ¶ 2.) The defendant has its principal place of business in Arizona. (Id. at ¶ 2.) According to the allegations in the complaint, the plaintiff entered a restaurant owned and operated by the defendant in Nashville, Tennessee on April 20, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 4.) As she walked into the restaurant, she slipped on some water that had accumulated on the floor and fell. (Id. at ¶ 6.) “As a result of her fall, the plaintiff suffered . . . injuries, losses and damages . . . .” (Id.) The plaintiff alleges that the fall occurred “due to the negligence and carelessness of the defendant . . ., its servants, agents or employees . . . .” (Id. at ¶ 7.)

         II. Legal Standard

         “On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2), ‘plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the court has jurisdiction over the defendant.'” Glenwood Sys., LLC v. Med-Pro Ideal Sols., Inc., No. 09CV956(WWE), 2010 WL 11527383, at *2 (D. Conn. May 4, 2010) (quoting In re Magnetic Audiotape Antitrust Litig., 334 F.3d 204, 206 (2d Cir. 2003)). The plaintiff “need make only a prima facie showing by its pleadings and affidavits that jurisdiction exists, ” and “[t]hose documents are construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff and all doubts are resolved in [her] favor.” CutCo Indus., Inc. v. Naughton, 806 F.2d 361, 365 (2d Cir. 1986).

         “[T]he amenability of a foreign corporation to suit in a federal court in a diversity action is determined in accordance with the law of the state where the court sits, with ‘federal law' entering the picture only for the purpose of deciding whether a [S]tate's assertion of jurisdiction contravenes a constitutional guarantee.” Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 567 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Arrowsmith v. United Press Int'l, 320 F.2d 219, 223 (2d Cir. 1963 (en banc)). As such, “in resolving questions of personal jurisdiction in a diversity action, a district court must conduct a two-part inquiry. First, it must determine whether the plaintiff has shown that the defendant is amenable to service of process under the forum state's laws; and second, it must assess whether the court's assertion of jurisdiction under these laws comports with the requirements of due process.” Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 567 (2d Cir. 1996).

         III. Discussion

         a. Existence of Personal Jurisdiction

         The defendant makes two arguments in its motion to dismiss. First, it contends that “the applicable Connecticut long arm statute does not reach the defendant because not one of its four possible grounds is satisfied.” (ECF No. 11-1 at 1.) Connecticut's long arm statute for claims against out-of-state corporations provides in relevant part:

(a) The registered agent of a foreign corporation authorized to transact business in this state is the corporation's agent for service of process, notice or demand required or permitted by law to be served on the foreign corporation. When the registered agent is other than the Secretary of the State and his successors in office, service may be effected by any proper officer or other person lawfully empowered to make service by leaving a true and attested copy of the process, notice or demand with such agent or, in the case of an agent who is a natural person, by leaving it at such agent's usual place of abode in this state.
. . . .
(f) Every foreign corporation shall be subject to suit in this state, by a resident of this state or by a person having a usual place of business in this state, whether or not such foreign corporation is transacting or has transacted business in this state and whether or not it is engaged exclusively in interstate or foreign commerce, on any cause of action arising as follows: (1) Out of any contract made in this state or to be performed in this state; (2) out of any business solicited in this state by mail or otherwise if the corporation has repeatedly so solicited business, whether the orders or offers relating thereto were accepted within or without the state; (3) out of the production, manufacture or distribution of goods by such corporation with the reasonable expectation that such goods are to be used or consumed in this state and are so used or consumed, regardless of how or where the goods were produced, manufactured, marketed or sold ...

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