United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge.
Kathie Wilson Sgiers filed a negligence suit in the Circuit
Court for Frederick County, Maryland against Lamers Bus
Lines, Inc. ("Lamers"), a Wisconsin-based charter
bus company, and "John Doe," one of its drivers.
ECF 2 (Complaint). The driver was subsequently identified as
Robert Mohr. At the relevant time, plaintiff was a parent
chaperone for a middle school trip from Chicago to
Washington, D.C. Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff claims that
on February 15, 2015, while the group was traveling on a
Lamers bus, she was injured when the driver "slammed on
the brakes" as plaintiff was loading a movie into the
bus's DVD player. Id. ¶ 6. Following the
incident, plaintiff was transported to Frederick Memorial
Hospital in Frederick, Maryland. Id. ¶ 7.
timely removed the case to this Court based on diversity
jurisdiction. ECF 1 (Notice of Removal). Thereafter, Lamers
moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6) or, alternatively, for summary judgment
under Rule 56. ECF 7. Lamers claimed, inter alia,
that the accident occurred in Virginia, not Maryland, and
therefore this Court lacked personal jurisdiction over
Lamers. Plaintiff disputed the contention as to the location
of the incident.
Memorandum (ECF 11) and Order (ECF 12) of May 2, 2018, I
denied Lamers's motion, without prejudice. ECF 12. And, I
granted limited discovery "on the question of the
location of the bus at the time plaintiff was injured."
Id. at 3. I explained, id.: "The legal
issue here is whether Maryland's long-arm statute is
satisfied by Lamers' conduct. The answer depends entirely
on a disputed fact, i.e., whether the bus was in
Maryland at the time of the injury."
discovery has since concluded. Now pending is Lamers's
"Renewed Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint, or in
the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment," pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), 12(b)(6), and 56. ECF 16. It is
supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 16-1) (collectively,
the "Motion") and numerous exhibits. ECF 16-2 - ECF
16-15. Lamers advances the same arguments that it previously
asserted in its prior motion. See ECF
particular, Lamers contends that this Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over Lamers because the incident occurred in
Virginia, not Maryland, and Lamers otherwise lacks the
requisite minimum contacts with Maryland. ECF 16-1 at 7-18.
Further, Lamers argues that, under the principle of lex
loci delictus, Virginia law applies. Id. at
18-20. And, according to Lamers, Virginia affords a two-year
statute of limitations for personal injury cases.
Id. at 18 (citing Va. Code § 8.01-243(A)).
Because plaintiff did not file suit until February 7, 2018,
i.e., almost three years after the date of the
occurrence, Lamers maintains that plaintiffs claims are
time-barred. ECF 16-1 at 19-20.
opposes the Motion (ECF 17), supported by a memorandum of law
(ECF 18) and four exhibits. ECF 18-1 - ECF 18-4. She
maintains that the injury occurred in Maryland. But,
"assuming arguendo that the accident did not
occur in Maryland," plaintiff argues that
defendant's "tortious failure and omission to seek
medical attention in a reasonable time and manner"
provide a basis for personal jurisdiction in Maryland. ECF 18
has replied (ECF 22) and submitted two exhibits. ECF 22-1 -
reasons that follow, I shall construe defendant's Motion
(ECF 16) as a motion for summary judgment and deny it.
is incorporated in the state of Wisconsin with its
"principal office" located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
ECF 16-4 (Affidavit of Kevin Lamers), ¶¶ 3-4. The
company "mainly operates out of Wisconsin,"
id, ¶ 5, but it also has offices in Michigan
and Florida. Id. ¶ 6; see ECF 16-5
(Michigan Registration); ECF 16-6 (Florida Registration).
to Kevin Lamers, the company's owner and corporate
secretary, Lamers has never had an office or a terminal in
Maryland. Id. ¶ 6. Nor has it ever
"employed a Maryland resident as an employee,"
"had a vehicle registered in Maryland,"
"contracted with a business entity incorporated in
Maryland," "advertised its services in
Maryland," or "had a fixed route in Maryland."
time of the incident, Sgiers was a parent chaperone for a
middle school trip from Chicago to Washington, D.C. ECF 16-8
(Plaintiff Affidavit), ¶ 4. On February 15, 2015, the
last day of the trip, Sgiers was a passenger on a charter bus
owned by Lamers and driven by Robert Mohr. ECF 16-7 (Mohr
Affidavit), ¶¶ 1-2; ECF 16-8, ¶ 5.
undisputed that on February 15, 2015, the group stopped for
dinner at Magills Famous Pizza and Buffet
("Magills") in Annandale, Virginia. ECF 16-11
(Plaintiffs Answers to Defendants' First Set of
Interrogatories) at 2. Sgiers said that, according to the
trip itinerary, the stop was to occur at 6:30 p.m. ECF 16-10
at 42. Sgiers estimated that the group was at
Magills for an hour. Id. at 42-43. Following dinner,
the group boarded two buses and began the drive back to
Chicago. ECF 16-7, ¶ 3.
to Sgiers, the group had been traveling for "probably
40, 45 minutes" when the students on her bus asked to
watch a movie. ECF 16-10 (Plaintiffs Deposition), at 22;
see also ECF 16-8, ¶ 7; ECF 16-11 at 2.
"The DVD player was located in the luggage rack,"
above the front passenger seats and "immediately behind
the bus driver." ECF 16-8, ¶ 8; see also
ECF 16-10 at 22. Sgiers asked Mohr "for permission to
load a DVD into the DVD Player." ECF 16-8, ¶ 9.
Mohr "said yes," and Sgiers "turned the power
on for the DVD Player." Id. As Sgiers
"stood to load a DVD," the bus driver "slammed
on his breaks," sending her "violently into the
heavy metal handrail at the front of the bus[.]"
Id. ¶ 10.
estimated that the incident occurred between 8:15 p.m. and
8:30 p.m. ECF 16-10 at 43. She claims that "within a few
minutes of the incident," Mohr pulled over the bus, and
she "was looked at by the nurse," Colleen Meyer.
ECF 16-8, ¶ 11. Meyer asked Sgiers how she was feeling,
and Sgiers responded: "I think I'm okay." ECF
16-10 at 24. Sgiers then stood up and returned to her seat.
to plaintiff, Mohr continued to drive. Id. at 25-26.
"After about two minutes of driving," Sgiers
"lied down" across her seat row. Id. at
26. Plaintiff recounted that Meyer again asked her if she was
okay, and Sgiers responded, id.: "Well, can you
break your ribs in the back? .... I've at least cracked,
if not, broken a rib or two."
point, Mohr had pulled over the bus in a parking lot, joined
by the second bus that was traveling with the group. The
second bus driver boarded Sgiers' bus and suggested that
Sgiers "get medical help." ECF 16-10 at 27. After
approximately five to ten minutes, the decision was made to
take Sgiers to the nearest hospital. Id.; ECF 16-8,
to Sgiers, she went to the hospital about "Ten minute
[sic] later." ECF 16-10 at 43. She explained that Mohr
drove only "for a few miles before [they] arrived at
Frederick Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Maryland,"
about 50 miles from Annandale, Virginia. ECF 16-8,
¶¶ 12-13. At approximately 8:42 p.m., plaintiff
arrived at the hospital. ECF 16-15 (Medical Records). Later
that night, plaintiff was "life flighted" from
Frederick Memorial Hospital to "University of Maryland
Shock Trauma" in Baltimore for "emergency
surgery." ECF 16-10 at 34.
Rhodes, a faculty chaperone traveling on the second bus,
averred that the group "had been travelling for some
time when the buses pulled over" because Sgiers was
hurt. ECF 16-9 (Rhodes Affidavit), ¶¶
At that point, Rhodes got off his bus to check on Sgiers.
Id. ¶ 8. A decision was made to take Sgiers to
the nearest hospital, and they drove only "for a couple
of miles (2-5 miles) before [they] arrived at the hospital in
Frederick, Maryland." Id. ¶ 9. Because the
hospital was located in Frederick, Maryland, and considering
"how short a period of time it took to get there,"
Rhodes concluded that "Sgiers' injury could not have
occurred in Virginia, and must have occurred in
Maryland." Id. ¶ 10.
Lovejoy, a parent chaperone riding on the second bus, also
claimed that, after leaving Magills, the group "drove a
ways, but not too long, and then pulled off of the highway
because something happened on the first bus." ECF 18-3
(Lovejoy Affidavit), ¶¶ 3, 8. Rhodes got off the
second bus "to find out what happened" and
"came back onto [the second] bus saying that Ms. Sgiers
had been injured." Id. ¶ 9. The group then
drove "a short distance to a hospital to drop Ms. Sgiers
there to be examined ...." Id.
could not recall "exact times," but said that the
group "had traveled into Maryland and very shortly after
is when [they] pulled off the highway to follow the first bus
because of the accident Ms. Sgiers had on the bus."
Id. ¶ 11. And, the hospital was "only
minutes away from ...