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Barros v. Beck

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 19, 2014

ANTONIO BARROS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JAMES BECK, et al., Defendants

For Mr Antonio Barros, Plaintiff: Jeffery Warren Styles, SULLIVAN STYLES & BARROS, LLP, Washington, DC.

For Jeffery Styles, Plaintiff: Jeffery Warren Styles, SULLIVAN STYLES & BARROS, LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 32

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Thomas F. Hogan, Senior United States District Judge.

Pending before the Court are (1) Defendant James Beck's and Amy Beck's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 8] and (2) Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File An Amend Complaint [sic] [ECF No. 11]. For the reasons

Page 33

that follow, the Court will grant Defendant James Beck's and Amy Beck's Motion to Dismiss and will grant in part and deny in part Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File An Amend Complaint [sic].

I. DEFENDANT JAMES BECK'S AND AMY BECK'S MOTION TO DISMISS

On June 24, 2013, defendants James Beck and Amy Beck (collectively the " Becks" ) moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' Complaint on the ground that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them.[1] Mem. of P. & A. In Support of Def. James Beck & Amy Beck's Mot. to Dismiss ¶ ¶ 1, 2 [ECF No. 8]. Citing the District of Columbia's long-arm statute, which is codified at D.C. Code § § 13-422 and 13-423, the Becks contend that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the Becks have minimal contacts with the District of Columbia sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction. Mem. of P. & A. In Support of Def. James Beck & Amy Beck's Mot. to Dismiss ¶ ¶ 2-4. The plaintiffs counter by asserting that diversity of citizenship exists between the parties and " [t]he District of Columbia or any other state couldn't deny a Plaintiff who demonstrates diversity between two citizens of different states the opportunity to have their case redress [sic] by a Federal court." Pls.' Opp'n Br. 6-7.

A. Factual Allegations

Both parties submitted opposing statements of facts, see Mem. of P. & A. In Support of Def. James Beck & Amy Beck's Mot. to Dismiss 1 [ECF No. 8] and Pls.' Material Facts In Dispute ¶ ¶ 1-11 [ECF No. 10], even though the local rules of this court only require such a submission when a motion for summary judgment is filed, see LCvR 7(h). While it generally is helpful to alert the Court about disputed facts, when a court is considering a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and does not hold an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction and the facts will be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, although the court may consider factual assertions made by the defendant that remain uncontroverted. See, e.g. In re Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 741 (9th Cir. 2013), petition for cert. filed, 82 U.S.L.W. 3107 (Aug. 26, 2013 (No. 12A1194, 13-271) [cert. granted, 134 S.Ct. 2899, 189 L.Ed.2d 854 (2014)]; Conn v. Zakharov, 667 F.3d 705, 711 (6th Cir. 2012); Doe v. Nat'l Med. Svs., 974 F.2d 143, 145 (10th Cir. 1992).

According to the Complaint, Antonio Barros and Jeffery Styles (the " plaintiffs" ) suffered injuries when their vehicle was struck by a minivan that was being driven by James Beck, who is named as a defendant along with Amy Beck and Government Employees Insurance Company, Inc. (" GEICO" ). Complaint ¶ 2. The Complaint asserts that the collision occurred in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that James Beck is a resident of Virginia, and that James Beck was driving negligently and in violation of Virginia laws. Id. at ¶ ¶ 2, 4, 15-18. Although the Complaint also names Amy Beck as a defendant, id. at ¶ 4, it fails to state any allegations against her. The Complaint does, however, state that Amy Beck is married to James Beck and that she is also a resident of Virginia. Id. With respect to GEICO, the Complaint appears to be alleging that GEICO breached an uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provision contained in plaintiff

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Antonio Barros's automobile insurance contract, albeit the Complaint lacks any assertions of fact identifying the contract or how GEICO breached it. Id. at ¶ ¶ 19-22.

B. Legal Standards that Govern the Court's Exercise of Personal Jurisdiction

" Jurisdiction to resolve cases on the merits requires both authority over the category of claim in suit (subject-matter jurisdiction) and authority over the parties (personal jurisdiction), so that the court's decision will bind them." Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 577, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 143 L.Ed.2d 760 (1999). " Personal jurisdiction is a separate and distinct requirement" from subject-matter jurisdiction, Halim v. Donovan, 951 F.Supp.2d 201, 204 (D.D.C. 2013), and it is the plaintiffs' burden to establish personal jurisdiction, FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Mkts., Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1091, 381 U.S.App.D.C. 383 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (" The plaintiffs have the burden of establishing the court's personal jurisdiction over [the defendants]." ). It is the general rule that the plaintiff must make at least a prima facie showing of the pertinent jurisdictional facts unless the trial court holds an evidentiary hearing. First Chicago Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378, 267 U.S.App.D.C. 27 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (noting that conclusory statements do not constitute the necessary prima facie showing to establish personal jurisdiction); Edmond v. U.S. Postal Serv. Gen. Counsel, 949 F.2d 415, 424, 292 U.S.App.D.C. ...


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