United States District Court, D. Maryland
DR. BRADLEY BARNETT
SUREFIRE MEDICAL, INC., et al.;
Frederick Motz, United States District Judge
Dr. Bradley Barnett, has sued Defendants Surefire Medical,
Inc. ("Surefire") and Dr. Aravind Arepally
(collectively, "Defendants") for damages arising
out of the design of an anti-reflux catheter. Plaintiff has
asserted claims for "correction of inventorship" on
six different patents, along with one claim of unjust
enrichment against Dr. Arepally. Defendants have filed a
motion to dismiss the Complaint or, in the alternative, for
transfer, citing a lack of personal jurisdiction in Maryland.
[ECF No. 11], The issues have been fully briefed, [ECF Nos.
14, 15], and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted, and the
case will be dismissed without prejudice.
following facts are derived from the substantive declarations
Defendants submitted in opposition to this motion. Surefire,
a company that develops and sells cancer treatment systems,
was incorporated in Delaware and maintains its principal
place of business in Westminster, Colorado. Chomas Aug. 3,
2017 Decl., [ECF No. 11-3 at ¶¶ 2, 3]. Surefire
sells its products throughout the United States, including
Maryland, and also sells its products internationally to
customers in thirteen different countries. Id.
¶ 4. Surefire does not have an office in Maryland, does
not own or rent property in Maryland, and does not maintain a
bank account in Maryland. Id. ¶ 7. Surefire has
never done business, in Maryland or elsewhere, with
Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 10. Surefire conducted the
research supporting its technology at its place of business
in Colorado, and is not conducting clinical trials in
Maryland for technology development. Chomas Aug. 30, 2017
Decl., [ECF No. 15-2 at ¶¶ 2, 3, 4]. In the past
five years, Maryland has accounted for between 2% to 4% of
Surefire's total sales. Chomas Aug. 3, 2017 Decl., [ECF
No. 11-3 at ¶ 5]. One of Surefire's 43 employees
lives in Maryland and is responsible for sales in the
Mid-Atlantic region. Id. ¶ 6.
other defendant, Dr. Arepally, is a resident of Georgia, and
works at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Arepally Aug. 4, 2017
Decl, [ECF No. 11-2 at ¶¶ 2, 3]. Dr. Arepally last
resided in Maryland in 2008, before he co-founded Surefire in
2009. Id. ¶ 2, 5. The earliest patent
application at issue in this case was filed on December 2,
2009. Id. ¶ 6. Dr. Arepally did not perform
work in Maryland on the patented technology referred to in
the Complaint. Id. ¶ 7. The technology at issue
was conceived and reduced to practice after Dr. Arepally left
Maryland. Arepally Aug. 31, 2017 Deck, [ECF No. 15-1 at
¶ 4]. Dr. Arepally owns a vacation home in Maryland,
which he visits occasionally, but he has no other property or
bank accounts in Maryland. Arepally Aug. 4, 2017 Deck, [ECF
No. 11-2 at ¶ 10]. He does not transact business in
Maryland, although he serves as an unpaid investigator in a
multi-center trial being performed, in part, at the Johns
Hopkins Medical Institute ("JHMI") in Maryland.
Id. ¶ 9. That trial is unrelated to the
technology mentioned in the Complaint. Id; Arepally
Aug. 31, 2017 Deck, [ECF No. 15-1 at ¶ 5]. Dr, Arepally
also serves as an unpaid consultant to another trial being
conducted at JHMI for a medical treatment incorporating the
Surefire Medical Infusion System, which uses the disputed
technology. Id. ¶ 6.
motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) challenges this
Court's personal jurisdiction over them. The parties
agree that, because this is a patent-related case,
jurisdiction is governed by Federal Circuit law. See
Deprenyl Animal Health, Inc. v. Univ. of Toronto Innovations
Found., 297 F.3d 1343, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2002).
"[W]hen, as here, the court addresses the question [of
personal jurisdiction] on the basis only of motion papers,
supporting legal memoranda and the relevant allegations of a
complaint, the burden on the plaintiff is simply to make a
prima facie showing of a sufficient jurisdictional
basis, to survive the jurisdictional challenge." New
Wellington Fin. Corp. v. Flagship Resort Dev. Corp., 416
F.3d 290, 294 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Combs v.
Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989)); see also
Electronics For Imaging, Inc. v. Coyle, 340 F.3d 1344,
1349 (Fed. Cir. 2003). "In the procedural posture of a
motion to dismiss, a district court must accept the
uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiffs complaint as
true and resolve any factual conflicts in the affidavits in
the plaintiffs favor." Electronics for Imaging,
Inc., 340 F.3d at 1349 (citing Deprenyl, 297
F.3d at 1347; Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta
Nat'l, Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000)).
jurisdiction exists where either general jurisdiction or
specific jurisdiction is established. See LSI Indus. Inc.
v. Hubbell Lighting Inc., 232 F.3d 1369, 1375 (Fed. Cir.
jurisdiction is a fairly limited concept, since it only
arises where "the continuous corporate operations within
a state [are] so substantial and of such a nature as to
justify suit against [defendant] on causes of action arising
from dealings entirely distinct from those activities."
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310,
318 (1945). "For an individual, the paradigm forum for
the exercise of general jurisdiction is the individual's
domicile; for a corporation, it is an equivalent place, one
in which the corporation is fairly regarded as at
home.'' Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011). In the context of a
corporation, the paradigm bases for general jurisdiction are
"the place of incorporation and principal place of
business." Daimler AG v. Bauman, __ U.S. __,
134 S.Ct. 746, 759 (2014). The Daimler court
clarified that while those paradigms are not necessarily the
only bases for general jurisdiction, it would be
"unacceptably grasping" to approve the exercise of
general jurisdiction wherever a corporation, "engages in
a substantial, continuous, and systemic course of
business." Id. at 761 (declining to find
general jurisdiction lies in every state in which a corporate
defendant has "sizeable" sales).
case, Dr. Arepally, the individual defendant, is not
domiciled in Maryland. Surefire is not incorporated and does
not have its principal place of business in Maryland. Even
taken in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, his
allegation that "upon information and belief, each
Defendant regularly solicits and conducts business in
Maryland" is not sufficient to justify general
jurisdiction. As an individual, Dr. Arepally would not be
subject to general jurisdiction in Maryland by virtue of his
business ties. As to Surefire, under the Daimler and
Goodyear cases, Surefire's nationwide sales, of
which Maryland contributes between 2% to 4%, would be
insufficient to render Maryland akin to a "home
state" for general jurisdiction purposes. See
Daimler, 134 S.C. at 761, 762 (noting that allowing
general jurisdiction in every state with sizeable sales would
be an "exorbitant exercise of all-purpose
jurisdiction"); Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 929
(rejecting notion that "any substantial manufacturer or
seller of goods would be amenable to suit, on any claim for
relief, wherever its products are distributed.").
to specific jurisdiction, the Federal Circuit has determined
that an assertion of specific jurisdiction over an
out-of-state defendant requires an assessment of whether the
"forum state's long-arm statute permits service of
process and whether [the] assertion of personal jurisdiction
violates due process." Genetic Implant Sys., Inc. v.
Core-Vent Corp.,123 F.3d 1455, 1458 (Fed. Cir. 1997)
(citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S.
462, 471-76 (1985)). Under Maryland's long-arm statute,
Plaintiffs lynchpin of specific jurisdiction is that his
claims arise out of acts performed in Maryland. Here,
Plaintiff has not presented a prima facie case that
Defendants' actions in Maryland gave rise to his cause of
action. Plaintiff cites the sections of the Maryland long-arm
statute which provide for personal jurisdiction where a
defendant "[transacts any business or performs any
character of work or service in the State" or
"[h]as an interest in, uses, or possesses real property
in the State." Pl. Opp. at 7 (citing Md. Code Ann., Cts.
& Jud. Proc. §§ 6-103(b)(1) and (b)(5)) (West
2017). However, the preliminary provision of the long-arm
statute states that "[i]f jurisdiction over a person is
based solely upon this section, he may be sued only on a
cause of action arising from any act enumerated ...