United States District Court, D. Maryland
PATRICIA M. VARIEUR, Plaintiff,
BIS GLOBAL, Defendant.
Paula Xinis, United States District Judge.
Patricia Varieur, a former employee of Defendant BIS Global,
brings this employment discrimination suit against her former
employer. ECF No. 1. BIS Global has moved for this Court
either to dismiss this case for lack of personal jurisdiction
or to enforce summarily the parties' employment severance
agreement and mutual release. ECF No. 50. Varieur has opposed
the motion, and requested of this Court that, if this Court
lacks jurisdiction in the case, the case be transferred to
the Eastern District of Virginia. For the reasons below, the
Court DENIES BIS Global's Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Summarily to Enforce Settlement and TRANSFERS
the case to the Eastern District of Virginia.
was an employee of BIS Global from February 2014 through July
2015. ECF No. 1 at 4. After having been terminated from BIS
Global, Varieur filed a charge with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission, alleging unequal pay, hostile work
environment, and sexual harassment. ECF No. 1-2 at 1-2. She
received her right to sue letter on June 14, 2016. ECF No.
1-2 at 3. Varieur filed suit in this Court on September 9,
2016. ECF No. 1. BIS Global now moves to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2), for improper venue under Rule 12(b)(3), and for
insufficient process under Rule 12(b)(4).
Personal Jurisdiction Over BIS Global
Standard of Review
court must have . . . power over the parties before it
(personal jurisdiction) before it can resolve a case.”
Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortg. Corp., 137 S.Ct. 553,
562 (2017). To determine whether personal jurisdiction
exists, district courts conduct a two-step inquiry to
determine (1) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction
is authorized by the relevant state's long-arm statute;
and (2) whether the assertion of personal jurisdiction is
consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.
See Ellicott Mach. Corp., Inc. v. John Holland Party,
Ltd., 995 F.2d 474, 477 (4th Cir. 1993).
may have either general or specific jurisdiction over a
defendant. An exercise of general jurisdiction requires that
the defendant's contacts with the forum state be
sufficiently continuous and systematic to render it “at
home” there. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, SA
v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011). Specific
jurisdiction requires, among other considerations, that that
the plaintiff's claims arise out of the defendant's
activities in the forum state. See ALS Scan, Inc. v.
Digital Serv. Consultants, Inc., 293 F.3d 707, 711-12
(4th Cir. 2002).
defendant moves for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(2), “the
jurisdictional question thereby raised is one for the judge,
with the burden on the plaintiff ultimately to prove grounds
for jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.”
Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989);
see also Young v. New Haven Advocate, 315 F.3d 256,
261 (4th Cir. 2002) (“The plaintiff, of course, has the
burden to establish that personal jurisdiction exists over
the out-of-state defendant.”). Although the party
opposing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) “is
entitled to have all reasonable inferences from the
parties' proof drawn in his favor, district courts are
not required . . . to look solely to the plaintiff's
proof in drawing those inferences.” Mylan Labs.,
Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 62 (4th Cir. 1993).
Instead, when a court considers a personal jurisdiction
challenge without an evidentiary hearing, the court construes
all relevant pleading allegations in the light most favorable
to the opposing party, but it may consider all submissions by
both the plaintiff and the defendant in ruling on the motion.
See id; Combs, 886 F.2d at 676. To
determine whether a defendant has made the required prima
facie showing of the existence of personal jurisdiction, the
court credits the uncontroverted allegations in the
plaintiff's complaint, but when a defendant's sworn
affidavit contradicts the allegations in the complaint, the
plaintiff bears the burden to present an affidavit or other
evidence showing jurisdiction exists. See Wolf v.
Richmond Cty. Hosp. Auth., 745 F.2d 904, 908 (4th Cir.
BIS Global properly has moved to dismiss Varieur's claim
under Rule 12(b)(2), Varieur bears the burden of proving that
this Court has personal jurisdiction over BIS Global. This
Court must determine not only what Maryland law allows, but
also whether exercising jurisdiction comports with the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Rao v.
Era Alaska Airlines, 22 F.Supp.3d 529, 534 (D. Md.
2014). In response to BIS Global's motion to dismiss,
Varieur argues that this Court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over BIS Global because Maryland's long-arm
statute “allows a court to exercise personal
jurisdiction over a defendant who ‘transacts any
business or performs any character of work or service in the
State.'” ECF No. 51 at 2. Varieur alleges in
support of this Court's exercise of jurisdiction that BIS
Global had a physical location in Rockville at the time her
hiring process began, and that BIS Global and its
subsidiaries use IP and physical addresses within Maryland.
ECF No. 51 at 1.
arguments, however, are misplaced. As the United States
Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in BNSF Railway Co. v.
Tyrrell, 137 S.Ct. 1549 (2017), whether a court may
exercise general jurisdiction over an out-of-state corporate
defendant centers on whether that corporation feels “at
home, ” and not merely whether a corporation does
business in a given jurisdiction. Id. at 1559
(citing Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 761
(2014)). Allowing this case to proceed in Maryland would not
comport with due process.
the evidence and pleadings in the light most favorable to
Varieur, BIS Global's contacts with Maryland are not
sufficient to confer jurisdiction over BIS Global. BIS Global
is not incorporated in Maryland, does not maintain its
principal place of business in Maryland, and the claims in
this case do not arise out of conduct of BIS Global in
Maryland.See BNSF Ry. Co., 137 S.Ct. at
1558-59. Rather, BIS Global is incorporated in the
Commonwealth of Virginia as of December 30, 2013. ECF No.
50-2 at 3. BIS Global's submissions also reflect that it
has maintained its headquarters in McLean, Virginia. ECF No.
50-2 at 5. Notably, Varieur does not take issue with either
of these propositions. This Court, therefore, does not have
general jurisdiction over BIS Global for Varieur's claim.
See Diamond Healthcare of Ohio, Inc. v. Humility
of Mary Health Partners, 229 F.3d 448, 450 (4th Cir.
2000) (in order to exercise specific jurisdiction over a
defendant, the defendant's contacts with the forum state
must “relate to the cause of action and create a
substantial connection with the forum state”). And
because Varieur has not alleged that she interviewed for her
job in Maryland, that she worked in Maryland, or that any of
BIS Global's conduct as relevant to her case occurred in
Maryland, no basis for specific jurisdiction exists.