United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
before the Court is defendant Wheeler Avenue, LLC's
Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (“Defendant's
Motion”) for lack of personal jurisdiction. (ECF No.
23.) The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no
hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion
Kangde Xin America, LLC (“KDX” or
“plaintiff”) is a limited liability company
organized under the laws of Maryland with its principal place
of business located in Easton, Maryland. (ECF No. 21 at
¶ 1.) Defendant Wheeler Avenue, LLC
(“Wheeler” or “defendant”) is a
limited liability company organized under the laws of Rhode
Island with its principal place of business located in
Cranston, Rhode Island. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Defendant
conducts business under the name “Ocean Laminating
Films, ” and is engaged in the distribution of
laminating films in the United States, including in Maryland.
(Id. at ¶¶ 2-3.) The parties have
conducted business with each other for at least four (4)
years, including through a non-exclusive distributor/agent
agreement. (ECF No. 21 at ¶ 10.) Plaintiff's breach
of contract claims in this case are based on two
transactions: (1) defendant's alleged default on a
promissory note entered into by the parties in 2012; and (2)
defendant's alleged failure to make payment on goods
ordered and received by defendant. (Id. at
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure for lack of personal jurisdiction challenges
a court's authority to exercise its jurisdiction over the
moving party. Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676
(4th Cir. 1989). The jurisdictional question is “one
for the judge, with the burden on the plaintiff ultimately to
prove the existence of a ground for jurisdiction by a
preponderance of the evidence.” Id. A court
may hold an evidentiary hearing or permit discovery as to the
jurisdictional issue, but it also may resolve the issue on
the basis of the complaint, motion papers, affidavits, and
other supporting legal memoranda. Consulting Eng'rs
Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 276
(4thCir. 2009); see also Armstrong v.
Nat'l Shipping Co. of Saudi Arabia, Civ. A. No.
ELH-13-03702, 2015 WL 751344, *3 (D. Md. Feb. 20, 2015). In
the latter situation, a plaintiff need only make “a
prima facie showing of a sufficient jurisdictional basis to
survive the jurisdictional challenge.” Consulting
Eng'rs Corp., 561 F.3d at 276. When considering
whether the plaintiff has made the requisite showing,
“the court must take all disputed facts and reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Carefirst of
Maryland, Inc. v. Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs., Inc., 334
F.3d 390, 396 (4th Cir. 2003).
in diversity, this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction
over the non-resident defendant if “(1) the applicable
state long-arm statute, confers jurisdiction and (2) the
assertion of that jurisdiction is consistent with
constitutional due process. Nichols v. G.D. Searle &
Co., 991 F.2d 1195, 1199 (4th Cir. 1993). Maryland
courts have consistently held that the state's long-arm
statute, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc., § 6-103,
“is coextensive with the reach of the Due Process
Clause of the United States Constitution.” Perdue
Foods LLC v. BRF S.A., 814 F.3d 185, 188 (4th Cir. 2016)
(quoting Beyond Sys., Inc. v. Realtime Gaming Holding
Co., LLC, 388 Md. 1, 878 A.2d 567, 580 (2005)). Thus,
the “statutory inquiry merges with [the] constitutional
inquiry.” Id. (citing Stover v.
O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135 (4th
court's jurisdiction may be general, where the defendant
has continuous and systematic contacts in the forum, or
specific, where defendant's contacts form the basis of
the suit. Purdue, 814 F.3d at 188. See
Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466
U.S. 408, 414 & n. 8, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404
(1984). Here, plaintiff does not allege that defendant had
continuous and systematic contacts with Maryland, but,
rather, asserts that this Court has specific personal
jurisdiction over Wheeler based upon Wheeler's
“purposeful established minimum contacts” with
this forum which gave rise to this suit. (ECF No. 22 at 4-5.)
court to have specific personal jurisdiction over a
defendant, the defendant must have “purposefully
established minimum contacts in the forum State” such
“that [it] should reasonably anticipate being haled
into court there.” Perdue, 814 F.3d at 189
(quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S.
462, 474, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985)). In
determining whether specific jurisdiction exists, the court
considers “(1) the extent to which the defendant has
purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting
activities in the state; (2) whether the plaintiffs'
claims arise out of those activities directed at the state;
and (3) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction would
be constitutionally ‘reasonable.'”
Id. (quoting ALS Scan, Inc. v. Digital Serv.
Consultants, Inc., 293 F.3d 707, 711-12 (4th Cir. 2002),
cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1105, 123 S.Ct. 868, 154
L.Ed.2d 773 (2003)). The plaintiff must prevail on each prong
to survive a motion to dismiss. Consulting Engineers
Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 278 (4th Cir.
support of its Motion to Dismiss, Wheeler argues that the
non-exclusive factors set forth in Consulting
Engineers do not support a finding that Wheeler has
purposefully availed itself of this forum. (ECF No. 23-1 at
5-6.) These factors include:
â¢ whether the defendant maintains offices or agents in the
forum state, see McGee v. Int'l Life Ins.
Co., 355 U.S. 220, 221, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223
• whether the defendant owns property in the forum
state, see Base Metal Trading, Ltd. v.
OJSC, 283 F.3d 208, 213 (4th Cir.2002);
• whether the defendant reached into the forum state to
solicit or initiate business, see McGee, 355 U.S. at
221, 78 S.Ct. 199; Burger King, ...