United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY J. KELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Term Copier, as its name suggests, leases copiers, printers,
and other office equipment for short-term projects. It also
provides support services for that equipment over the course
of the project. In later 2017 and early 2018, Short Term
Copier provided equipment and associated services to
Litigation Logistics, a litigation support firm, for two
law-firm clients with trials taking place in the District of
Columbia and California. After the projects were completed
and Short Term Copier sent invoices for the equipment and
services, Litigation Logistics declined to pay. Seeking what
it alleges Litigation Logistics still owes it, Short Term
Copier sued, bringing claims for breach of contract and,
alternatively, unjust enrichment.
Logistics moved to dismiss, arguing that this Court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction to hear these claims in light of
the District of Columbia's “door-closing”
statute, that the Court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction
over it, and that venue is improper. Finding each argument
wanting, the Court will deny Defendant's motion, except
insofar as it requests dismissal of claims related to the
California contract between the parties for lack of personal
Digital Copier, Inc., d/b/a Short Term Copier
(“Plaintiff) is a rental-services firm that provides
high-speed copiers, printers, high-capacity shredders,
laptops, and computers for temporary offices, projects, and
events. See ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶
1. Plaintiff is a Maryland corporation, with its principal
place of business in Maryland. Id. But it provides
its services in nineteen states and in the District of
Logistics, Inc., (“Defendant”) is a Tennessee
corporation with its principal place of business in
Tennessee. ECF No. 7-2 (“Hogan Decl”) ¶ 2.
Its “primary business function . . . is to provide
litigation support services to large law firms during their
litigation matters that occur across the United
States.” Id. ¶ 3. Often, that entails
setting up office locations near courthouses “equipped
with computers, monitors, printers, copiers, ” and the
like. Id. ¶ 4.
to Plaintiffs complaint, in December 2017, Plaintiff entered
into two agreements with Defendant to “provide copiers,
printers, and other support to [Defendant's] law firm
clients” for projects in the District of Columbia and
California. Compl. ¶ 5. For the project in the District
of Columbia-a trial expected to last four months-Plaintiff
provided monitors, printers, copiers, and associated hardware
and software and responded to service calls and delivered
additional equipment as needed. Id. ¶¶
6-7. Plaintiff provided similar equipment and services for
the project in California in early 2018. See Id.
¶¶ 10-11. According to Plaintiff, $80, 747.27 and
$6, 540.00 remain outstanding on its invoices for the
District of Columbia and California projects, respectively.
Id. ¶¶ 9, 12.
August 2018, Plaintiff commenced this action, bringing a
claim of common-law breach of contract or, in the
alternative, unjust enrichment to recover the unpaid amounts
on the two contracts. See Id. ¶¶ 14-26.
The complaint invokes this Court's diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), noting that Plaintiff
seeks more than $75, 000 and that the parties are
incorporated in and have their principal places of business
in different states. Id. ¶ 3.
moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that
subject-matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and
proper venue are all lacking, see ECF No. 7-1
(“Def's MTD Br.”), which Plaintiff opposed,
see ECF No. 8-1 (“Pl.'s Opp'n”).
motion to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
“presents a threshold challenge to the court's
jurisdiction.” Haase v. Sessions, 835 F.2d
902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987). When faced with such a motion, a
court may look beyond the pleadings, but it must
“accept all of the factual allegations in [the]
complaint as true, ” Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc. v.
Food & Drug Admin., 402 F.3d 1249, 1253-54 (D.C.
Cir. 2005) (alteration in original) (quoting United
States v. Gaubert, 499 U.S. 315, 327 (1991)), and
otherwise “construe the complaint liberally, granting
[the] plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be
derived from the facts alleged, ” Am.
Nat'l Ins. Co. v. FDIC, 642 F.3d
1137, 1139 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (quoting Thomas v.
Principi, 394 F.3d 970, 972 (D.C. Cir. 2005)). Still,
the plaintiff “bears the burden of establishing, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the court has
jurisdiction.” Whiteru v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit
Auth, 258 F.Supp.3d 175, 182 (D.D.C. 2017) (citing
Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561
defendant may also, under Rule 12(b)(2), move to dismiss a
complaint because the court lacks personal jurisdiction over
it. Fed. R Civ. P. 12(b)(2). The plaintiff bears the burden
of establishing a court's personal jurisdiction over the
defendant, see FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Markets, Ltd.,
529 F.3d 1087, 1091 (D.C. Cir. 2008), at this stage by making
a “prima facie showing of the pertinent
jurisdictional facts, ” Livnat v. Palestinian
Auth., 851 F.3d 45, 56-57 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (quoting
First Chi. Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d
1375, 1378 (D.C. Cir. 1988)). When, as here, the court
determines personal jurisdiction without an evidentiary
hearing, the “court must resolve factual disputes in
favor of the plaintiff.” Id. at 57 (quoting
Helmer v. Doletskaya, 393 F.3d 201, 209 (D.C. Cir.
2004)). But it “need not accept inferences drawn by
[the] plaintiff if such inferences are unsupported by the
facts.” Id. (quoting Helmer, 393 F.3d
at 209). As is the case in determining subject-matter
jurisdiction, “the Court is not limited to the four
corners of the operative complaint, [and] ‘may receive
and weigh affidavits and other relevant matter to assist in
determining jurisdictional facts.'” Xie v.
Sklover & Co., LLC, 260 F.Supp.3d 30, 37 (D.D.C.
2017) (quoting Khatib v. All. Bankshares Corp., 846
F.Supp.2d 18, 26 (D.D.C. 2012)).
a party may challenge venue under Rule 12(b)(3), and if the
court determines that venue is improper, it must dismiss the
action or, if it is in the interest of justice, transfer it
to a proper venue. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3); 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a). “In considering a Rule 12(b)(3)
motion, the court accepts the plaintiff's well-pled
factual allegations regarding venue as true, draws all
reasonable inferences from those allegations in the
plaintiff's favor[, ] and resolves any factual conflicts
in the plaintiff's favor.” James v. Verizon
Servs. Corp., 639 F.Supp.2d 9, 11 (D.D.C. 2009). And the
court may consider materials outside the pleadings. See
Williams v. GEICO Corp., 792 F.Supp.2d 58, 62 (D.D.C.
2011). Ultimately, “[b]ecause it is the plaintiff's
obligation to institute the action in a permissible forum,
the plaintiff usually bears the burden of establishing that
venue is proper.” Freeman v. Fallin, 254
F.Supp.2d 52, 56 (D.D.C. 2003).
a court determines that venue is proper in its district,
however, it may still transfer the case “[f]or the
convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, . . . to any other district or division where it
might have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). A
party moving for transfer under § 1404(a) must show both
that the action could have been brought in the transferee
district and that the applicable factors weigh in favor of
transfer. See, e.g., Treppel v. Reason, 793
F.Supp.2d 429, 435 (D.D.C. 2011). That burden is a heavy one,
particularly in light of the strong weight a plaintiffs
choice of forum is generally afforded. See Jalloh v.
Underwood, 300 F.Supp.3d 151, 155-56 (D.D.C. 2018);
see also Gross v. Owen, 221 F.2d 94, 95 (D.C. Cir.
1955). And the court has “broad discretion” in
determining whether transfer is appropriate under this
standard. Rosales v. United States, 477 F.Supp.2d
213, 215 (D.D.C. 2007) (quoting In re Scott, 709
F.2d 717, 720 (D.C. Cir. 1983)).
makes three arguments in support of its motion to dismiss.
First, it argues that the District of Columbia's
“door-closing” statute, D.C. Code §
29-105.02(b), deprives this Court of subject-matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiffs claims. Second, Defendant
asserts that its relevant contacts with the District of
Columbia are insufficient for this Court to exercise personal
jurisdiction over it. Third, and relatedly, it claims that
venue is improper here. In the alternative, if the Court
finds that venue is proper in ...