United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMES STEWART, et al. Plaintiffs,
JAYCO, INC. Defendant.
L. HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
James Stewart and Kelly Goodman brought suit against
defendant Jayco, Inc. (“Jayco”) (ECF 2),
alleging, inter alia, violations of the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §2301
et seq., and breach of warranty. The suit arises out
of “non-stop problems” that plaintiffs claim to
have had with their Jayco motorhome. Id. at 2-4.
Plaintiffs appended several exhibits to the Complaint.
See ECF 26-1 through ECF 26-3.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), Jayco has filed a motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction (ECF 16), supported by a
memorandum of law. ECF 16-1 (collectively, the
“Motion”). Plaintiffs oppose the Motion (ECF 19,
“Opposition”) and submitted several exhibits with
their Opposition. ECF 19-2 through ECF 19-8. Defendant
replied (ECF 20, “Reply”) and also submitted an
exhibit. ECF 20-1. Then, plaintiffs filed a “Motion to
Allow Plaintiff [sic] to File Sur Response to Defendant's
Reply” (ECF 22, “Motion for Surreply”),
which defendant opposes. ECF 23. Plaintiffs subsequently
docketed their proposed Surreply. ECF 24.
motions have been fully briefed and no hearing is necessary
to resolve them. See Local Rule 105.6. For these
reasons that follow, I shall grant plaintiffs' Motion for
Surreply and defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
are “residents” of Maryland. ECF 2 ¶ 1.
Jayco is a “‘final stage manufacturer' and
distributor of recreational vehicles incorporated and
headquartered in Indiana . . . .” ECF 16-1 at 1;
see also ECF 20-1 (Declaration of Craig Newcomer,
Consumer Affairs Manager for “Jayco Motorhome
Group”), ¶ 2. Plaintiffs allege that Jayco does
business in Maryland “through its three dealers in the
State of Maryland.” Id. ¶
August 29, 2015, plaintiffs purchased a “2016 Jayco
Seneca motor home” (the “Motorhome”) from
Camping World RV Super Center (“Camping World”),
a dealer located in Fountain, Colorado. ECF 2 ¶¶ 3,
5; see ECF 26-1 (Camping World Buyers Order and
Invoice) at 1. According to plaintiffs, Camping World is an
“authorized agent and dealer of the Defendant.”
See ECF 2 ¶ 3. Plaintiffs paid $153, 081.90 for
the Motorhome. ECF 2 ¶ 4; see ECF 26-1 at 1.
claim that the Motorhome has “been plagued by non-stop
problems arising from defects in manufacturing of the
vehicle.” Id. ¶ 5. According to
plaintiffs, “the vehicle is constantly and regularly
having to be repaired with non-stop continuing
problems.” Id. ¶ 8. They also assert:
“The Plaintiffs have requested that the Defendant
address the issues, but to no avail.” Id.
Motion, Jayco contends that this Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over Jayco. In this regard, Jayco submitted the
Declaration of Craig Newcomer, Consumer Affairs Manager of
“Jayco Motorhome Group.” See ECF 20-1.
He avers that Jayco does not maintain an office in Maryland;
does not have any employees in Maryland; does not own any
real estate in Maryland; has no bank accounts in Maryland;
and “does not directly advertise in Maryland.”
ECF 20-1 ¶¶ 4, 5, 7, 8, 9; see also ECF
16-1 at 1-2. Further, he states that although Jayco maintains
a website accessible to residents of Maryland, by which they
can “review product and warranty information and locate
dealers, Jayco does not sell its vehicles on its
website.” ECF 20-1 ¶ 10. In the Motion, Jayco also
asserts that it is not licensed to do business in Maryland
and does not “directly” pay any taxes in
Maryland. ECF 16-1 at 1-2.
to Newcomer, Jayco has dealers throughout the United States
and in 15 other countries. ECF 20-1 ¶ 11. Newcomer avers
that the “dealers are independently owned and
operated.” Id. Furthermore, Newcomer states,
id.: “Neither Jayco nor any of Jayco's
affiliates owns any part of them. Jayco does not control,
supervise, or direct the day-to-day operations of the
independently owned and operated dealers.”
Newcomer avers that “Maryland sales represent only a
small percentage of Jayco's total motor home
sales.” Id. ¶ 12. Notably, he also
asserts: “There is only one dealer in Maryland
(Chesaco)”, which has three locations in Maryland:
Frederick, Joppa, and Gambrills. Id. Moreover,
Newcomer states that Chesaco sells products of various
manufacturers, and “is not an exclusive Jayco
Newcomer points out that plaintiffs did not enter into a
contract to purchase the Motorhome in Maryland or with
Jayco. Id. ¶ 13. He avers, id:
“None of Jayco's employees communicated with
Plaintiffs during Plaintiffs' negotiations leading up to
their purchase of the motor home.” And, Newcomer states
that after the purchase “the motor home [was] serviced
by Camping World RV Sales in Hanover, Pennsylvania and
Camping World RV Super Center in Fountain, Colorado.”
Id. ¶ 14. In addition, plaintiffs submitted
their purchase agreement with Camping World, which provides:
“Seller and Purchaser are the sole parties to this
Order . . . .” ECF 26-1 at 2.
their Opposition, plaintiffs point out that Jayco maintains a
website with “a direct link to the Defendants
[sic].” ECF 19 ¶ 2. They also claim that there are
at least three “Jayco RV dealers operating within the
State of Maryland.” Id. ¶ 3. And,
according to plaintiffs, the website directs customers to
dealers operating within Maryland. Id. ¶¶
2-3; see also ECF 19-2 and ECF 19-3 (print-outs of
Jayco website pages). Thus, they maintain that Jayco is
“transacting business in Maryland and contracting to
supply manufactured products in Maryland by selling them to
their dealers.” ECF 19 ¶ 12. In their view, it is
irrelevant that plaintiffs did not buy the Motorhome in
Maryland. Id. ¶ 13.
exhibits submitted by plaintiffs from the Jayco website (ECF
19-3) identify one dealer, Chesaco RV. They also show that
Chesaco has three locations in Maryland. ECF 19-4; ECF 19-6.
facts are included in the Discussion.
Motion for Surreply
Rule 105.2(a) provides that a party is not permitted to file
a surreply without permission of the court. “Allowing a
party to file a sur-reply is within the Court's
discretion, see Local Rule 105.2(a), but they are
generally disfavored.” EEOC v. Freeman, 961
F.Supp.2d 783, 801 (D. Md. 2013), aff'd in part,
778 F.3d 463 (4th Cir. 2015); see also, e.g.,
Chubb & Son v. C & C Complete Servs.,
LLC, 919 F.Supp.2d 666, 679 (D. Md. 2013). A
surreply may be permitted when the party opposing the
underlying motion “would be unable to contest matters
presented to the court for the first time in the
[movant's] reply.” Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc.
v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 22 F.Supp.3d
519, 529 (D. Md. 2014) (quotations and citations omitted).
Conversely, a surreply is not permitted when the reply merely
responds to an issue raised in the opposition to the
underlying motion. See Khoury v. Meserve, 268
F.Supp.2d 600, 605-06 (D. Md. 2003). In that posture, the
party had the opportunity to support its arguments in the
opposition to the underlying motion. Id. at 606.
Motion for Surreply, plaintiffs did not explain why a
surreply is necessary or appropriate. ECF 22. Plaintiffs only
requested the Court allow them to “file a brief one
page response to the Defendant's Reply . . . .”
opposition to the Motion for Surreply, defendant argues that
the Court should not grant plaintiffs' request. ECF 23.
According to defendant, “Jayco's Reply Brief did
not raise any new legal arguments; nor do Plaintiffs assert
that they were unable to respond to Jayco's arguments in
their Brief in Opposition.” Id. at 1.
Defendant argues: “To permit Plaintiffs to file a
surreply under these circumstances would be prejudicial as it
would leave Jayco without an opportunity to respond.”
Id. at 2.
view, plaintiff is entitled to file the Surreply because
defendant introduced facts in its Reply that it had not
previously cited. For example, defendant argued for the first
time that the relevant repairs were performed in
Pennsylvania. ECF 20 at 1, 3. And, defendant submitted the
“Declaration of Craig Newcomer.” See ECF
20-1. Although Newcomer's averments are largely
consistent with the allegations in the Motion, the
Declaration constitutes evidence, to which plaintiffs have
the right to respond. Therefore, I shall grant the Motion for
Motion to Dismiss
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is
predicated on Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). “[A] Rule 12(b)(2)
challenge raises an issue for the court to resolve, generally
as a preliminary matter.” Grayson v. Anderson,
816 F.3d 262, 267 (4th Cir. 2016). Under Rule 12(b)(2), the
burden is “on the plaintiff ultimately to prove the
existence of a ground for jurisdiction by a preponderance of
the evidence.” Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673,
676 (4th Cir. 1989); see Universal Leather, LLC v. Koro
AR, S.A., 773 F.3d 553, 558 (4th Cir. 2014).
the existence of jurisdiction turns on disputed factual
questions the court may resolve the [jurisdictional]
challenge on the basis of a separate evidentiary hearing, or
may defer ruling pending receipt at trial of evidence
relevant to the jurisdictional question.”
Combs, 886 F.2d at 676. A court may also, in its
discretion, permit discovery as to the jurisdictional issue.
See Mylan Laboratories, Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d
56, 64 (4th Cir. 1993). Plaintiffs note that a plaintiff may
develop facts supporting jurisdiction through discovery. ECF
19 ¶ 14. However, they have not asked the Court for any
opportunity to conduct discovery. Id. In any event,
neither discovery nor an evidentiary hearing is required to
resolve a motion under Rule 12(b)(2). See generally
5B C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 1351 at 274-313 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.).
plaintiff's burden in establishing jurisdiction varies
according to the posture of a case and the evidence that has
been presented to the court.” Grayson, 816
F.3d at 268. The district court may address the question of
personal jurisdiction as a preliminary matter, ruling solely
on the basis of motion papers, supporting legal memoranda,
affidavits, and the allegations in the complaint.
Consulting Eng'rs Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561
F.3d 273, 276 (4th Cir. 2009); see Grayson, 816 F.3d
at 268. In that circumstance, the “plaintiff need only
make ‘a prima facie showing of personal
jurisdiction to survive the jurisdictional
challenge.'” Grayson, 816 F.3d at 268
(quoting Combs, 886 F.2d at 676).
determining whether a plaintiff has made the requisite
prima facie showing, the court must take the
allegations and available evidence relating to personal
jurisdiction in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Grayson, 816 F.3d at 268; see
Carefirst of Maryland, Inc. v. Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs.,
Inc., 334 F.3d 390, 396 (4th Cir. 2003). But,
“district courts are not required . . . to look solely
to the plaintiff's proof in drawing those
inferences.” Mylan Laboratories, 2 F.3d at 62.
And, “‘[a] threshold prima facie finding
that personal jurisdiction is proper does not finally settle
the issue; plaintiff must eventually prove the existence of
personal jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence,
either at trial or at a pretrial evidentiary
hearing.'” New Wellington Fin. Corp. v.
Flagship Resort Dev. Corp., 416 F.3d 290, 294 n. 5 (4th
Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original) (citation omitted).
Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A) authorizes a federal district court to
exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant in accordance
with the law of the state in which the district court is
located. Carefirst of Maryland, 334 F.3d at 396.
Therefore, in Maryland, “to assert personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, two conditions
must be satisfied: (1) the exercise of jurisdiction must be
authorized under the state's long-arm statute; and (2)
the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with the due
process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Id.; accord Carbone v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l
Trust Co., No. CV RDB-15-1963, 2016 WL 4158354, at *5
(D. Md. Aug. 5, 2016).
long-arm statute is codified at Md. Code (2013 Repl. Vol.,
2016 Supp.), § 6- 103(b) of the Courts & Judicial
Proceedings Article. It authorizes “personal