United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. BOASBERG JUDGE
se Plaintiff Nathaniel Cannon brings this suit alleging
that his former employer in North Carolina, Defendant Charter
Communications, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act
when it denied him the reasonable accommodation of working
from home. In now moving to dismiss, Charter argues both that
this Court has no personal jurisdiction over it and that the
Amended Complaint does not sufficiently allege an ADA claim.
Without needing to address the latter point, the Court will
dismiss the case without prejudice as it has no basis to hale
Charter into a District of Columbia court.
Opinion concerns only jurisdiction, the Court will not linger
on the particulars of Cannon's ADA claim. It sets forth
the facts as alleged in both the Amended Complaint and the
Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. See
ECF Nos. 10 (Amended Complaint), 16 (Opposition); Brown
v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., 789 F.3d 146, 151-52
(D.C. Cir. 2015) (court should consider facts alleged in
pro se plaintiff's opposition to motion to
worked at Charter Communications and [its predecessor] Time
Warner Cable in Charlotte, North Carolina[, ] from January 6,
2012[, ] to October 16, 2017[, ] beginning in the position of
Retention Representative and ending [in the] position [of]
Order Management Scheduling Representative.” Opp. at
3-4. (As Plaintiff misnumbers the pages in his Opposition,
the Court will rely on the ECF pagination.) While there, he
“developed additional chronic medical conditions,
” including “hypertension, obstructive sleep
apnea[, ] . . . [v]ertigo and Sinus Node Dysfunction with
heart arrhythmia.” Id. at 4. After a surgery,
he returned to work in September 2014 and requested the
accommodation of working from home. See Am. Compl.,
¶¶ 4, 6. He successfully did so for over two years,
but following Time Warner's sale to Charter, his new
employer terminated the work-from-home program, requiring
Cannon to return to the office in 2017. Id.,
¶¶ 13-15. Feeling unable to perform the work in
that environment, he “was forced to resign
employment.” Id., ¶ 63. This suit
followed, and Charter now moves for dismissal.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a defendant may
move to dismiss a suit if the court lacks personal
jurisdiction over it. The plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing personal jurisdiction, FC Inv. Grp. LC v.
IFX Mkts., Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1091 (D.C. Cir. 2008),
and its requirements “must be met as to each
defendant.” Rush v. Savchuk, 444 U.S. 320, 332
(1980). In deciding whether the plaintiff has shown a factual
basis for personal jurisdiction, courts resolve factual
discrepancies in his favor. See Crane v. N.Y. Zoological
Soc'y, 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1990). When
personal jurisdiction is challenged, “the district
judge has considerable procedural leeway in choosing a
methodology for deciding the motion.” 5B Charles A.
Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 1351 (3d ed. 2004). The court may rest
on the allegations in the pleadings, collect affidavits and
other evidence, or even hold a hearing. Id.
are two types of personal jurisdiction that a plaintiff may
invoke: general and specific. Each must meet the requirements
of the Constitution's Due Process Clause. See United
States v. Ferrara, 54 F.3d 825, 828 (D.C. Cir. 1995).
Cannon here appears to rely exclusively on the former.
Process Clause permits general jurisdiction when a
non-resident defendant maintains sufficiently systematic and
continuous contacts with the forum state, regardless of
whether those contacts gave rise to the claim in the
particular suit. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia,
S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-15 (1984). General
jurisdiction is appropriate based on “only a limited
set of affiliations with a forum, ” all of which are
tantamount to Defendant's domicile. See Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 137 (2014). For corporations,
general jurisdiction may be asserted if the forum is one in
which the corporation is “‘fairly regarded as at
home, '” which has been defined as generally being
either its “place of incorporation” or its
“principal place of business.” Id.
(quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011)).
score, Cannon alleges that “Charter has a Government
Affairs office in the District of Columbia conducting
business on behalf of Charter Communications by Charter
employees.” Opp. at 2. That is insufficient, as it
cannot be said that Defendant is “fairly regarded as at
home” in the District. See Daimler, 571 U.S.
at 137-39 (“[T]he inquiry under Goodyear is
not whether a foreign corporation's in-forum contacts can
be said to be in some sense continuous and systematic, it is
whether that corporation's affiliations with the State
are so continuous and systematic as to render [it]
essentially at home in the forum State.”) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). In fact, Charter avers
that it “is a Delaware limited liability company . . .
and has its principal executive offices . . . [in] Stamford,
Connecticut.” ECF 13-2 (Declaration of Bradley P.
Nelson), ¶ 6.
event, even if Plaintiff could demonstrate that Defendant had
sufficient contacts with the District, he still would not
satisfy the service requirements of D.C. law. A foreign
defendant must be served “in the District” for
the exercise of general jurisdiction. See D.C. Code
§ 13-334(a). “Where the basis for obtaining
jurisdiction over a foreign corporation is § 13-334(a),
. . . a plaintiff who serves the corporation by mail outside
the District is ‘foreclosed from benefitting from [the
statute's] jurisdictional protection.'”
Gorman v. Ameritrade Holding Corp., 293 F.3d 506,
514 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (quoting Everett v. Nissan Motor
Corp., 628 A.2d 106, 108 (D.C. 1993)); see also
Gowens v. Dyncorp, 132 F.Supp.2d 38, 42 (D.D.C. 2001)
(service at defendant's Virginia headquarters). Here, it
appears that Plaintiff did not serve Defendant in the
District. See ECF No. 5 (Service Affidavit). The
Court, consequently, may not exercise general jurisdiction
over it via § 13-334(a).
does not argue that, in the alternative, specific
jurisdiction could apply, and he is right to so abstain.
Specific jurisdiction permits a court to adjudicate those
“issues deriving from, or connected with, the very
controversy that establishes jurisdiction.”
Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919 (citation omitted). In
other words, specific jurisdiction exists where a claim
arises out of the non-resident defendant's contacts with
the forum state. There is no allegation here that
Charter's failure to accommodate arose or had any
connection with employees in its D.C. office.
there is no basis for personal jurisdiction over Defendant,
the Court will dismiss the case and permit Plaintiff to
refile in a ...