United States District Court, District of Columbia
S. CHUTKAN United States District Judge.
Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Americas (NIDOA), is a
Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization. Plaintiff
filed this lawsuit against three individual defendants who
were removed as officers and members from the Houston Chapter
of the national organization. Plaintiff alleges that despite
the removal, the Defendants have continued to hold themselves
out as a legitimate chapter of the national organization and
have distributed unauthorized publications:
Defendant[s] advertised via the Internet and beyond, offered
their libelous publication via the Internet to known
recipients all over the United States and beyond, have
transacted business via the Internet, have committed and/or
induced acts of trademark infringement all over the United
States and beyond, and/or have placed infringing
communications alleging ownership of Plaintiff’s
trademarks in the United States through established
communication channels with the expectation that such
communication shall result in positive responses to them via
(Compl. ¶ 9). Plaintiff claims that Defendants’
conduct constitutes trademark infringement and false
advertising in violation of the Lanham Act, Lanham
(Trademark) Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051-1141, as well as
defamation of character.
noted in a prior order, the court questions the
appropriateness of venue in this district. The three pro
se defendants, who are citizens of Texas, contend that
they have never conducted business or resided in this
jurisdiction, and have filed Motions to Dismiss challenging
both venue and personal jurisdiction here in the District of
Columbia. (See ECF Nos. 10-14).
party objecting to venue must present sufficient facts to put
the plaintiff on notice that there is a defect in venue.
McCain v. Bank of Am., 13 F.Supp.3d 45, 51
(D.D.C.2014), aff’d sub nom., 602 F.
App’x 836 (D.C. Cir. 2015). “Nevertheless, the
burden remains on the plaintiff to establish that venue is
proper since it is the plaintiff’s obligation to
institute the action in a permissible forum.”
McCain, 13 F.Supp.3d at 51 (citation and internal
quotations omitted). Nothing in the Complaint supports a
finding that Plaintiff has met this burden. Plaintiff alleges
that venue is proper in the District of Columbia pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b), 1391(c), 1391(d), and 1400.
(Compl. ¶ 10). Section 1391(b) provides that
[a] civil action may be brought in . . . (1) a judicial
district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants
are residents of the State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a
substantial part of property that is the subject of the
action is situated; or (3) if there is no district in which
an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this
section, any judicial district in which any defendant is
subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction . . . .
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). None of the Defendants are
residents of the District of Columbia, (Compl. ¶¶
4-6), and there is no indication in the Complaint that any
“substantial part of property” related to this
lawsuit is located here. Finally, although Plaintiff claims
that Defendants sent unauthorized publications to
“outlets both within and outside of the United States,
” (Compl. ¶ 23), Plaintiff has not alleged that
any of the “events or omissions giving rise to the
claim[s], ” occurred in the District of Columbia, much
less a “substantial part” of those events.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Thus, venue is not
appropriate under subsection (b) of 28 U.S.C. § 1391
unless Plaintiff can obtain personal jurisdiction over the
Defendants in this district. See 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court has
personal jurisdiction over a defendant. See Naartex
Consulting Corp. v. Watt, 542 F.Supp. 1196, 1199 (D.D.C.
1982), aff'd, 722 F.2d 779 (D.C. Cir. 1983). In
this case, the Plaintiff merely asserts in the Complaint,
based on “information and belief, ” that
Defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction in the
District of Columbia because their conduct extended
“all over the United States and beyond.” (Compl.
¶ 9). This allegation is not sufficient to meet
Plaintiff’s burden of establishing that the
Defendants’ conduct has a connection to the District of
Columbia. Therefore, Plaintiff has not asserted any facts in
support of personal jurisdiction over the Defendants in the
District of Columbia and, accordingly, venue is not
appropriate under subsection (b) of 28 U.S.C. § 1391.
the Plaintiff has not alleged any facts that would make venue
appropriate under the other provisions cited in the
complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c) simply establishes
residency for venue purposes:
For all venue purposes--
(1) a natural person, including an alien lawfully admitted
for permanent residence in the United States, shall be deemed
to reside in the judicial district in which that person is
subsection (c)(1) does not support venue in the District of
Columbia because the Defendants are not domiciled in the
District of Columbia. Likewise subsection (d) does not
support Plaintiff’s venue allegation because that
section relates solely to the “[r]esidency of
corporations in States with multiple districts” and the
Plaintiff sued the Defendants as individuals and not as part
of a corporation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(d).
28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) does not support venue in the
District of Columbia. ...