How One Case Changed Personal Jurisdiction

On Behalf of | May 5, 2022 | TCPA

Where is “Home?”

In TCPA cases, some defendants who are not “at home” in the forum state are seeking dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). These defendants are attempting to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  To the Court, “Home” is defined as when the defendant is not incorporated in the forum state and their principal place of business is not located in the forum state. Typically, in TCPA cases, a 12(b)(2) motion is filed when the defendant either does not make the call(s) at issue or the call(s) at issue was received by the plaintiff outside the forum state.

How Hood v. America Auto Care, LLC made a change

However, a potentially significant blow has been struck to these 12(b)(2) motions in TCPA cases with the Tenth Circuit’s opinion in Hood v. America Auto Care, LLC.1 In Hood, the Tenth Circuit, based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial Circuit District Court2, holds that Colorado has personal jurisdiction over the defendants.This decision is based on the fact that despite the plaintiff having a phone number with a Vermont area code, the defendants directing of similar telemarketing calls to Vermont and Colorado satisfies the purposeful-direction requirement of personal jurisdiction. The Tenth Circuit’s holding essentially means that personal jurisdiction/purposeful availment is based upon a defendant’s contact with a plaintiff as well as any similar contact the defendant may have with other persons in the forum state.

Since the Hood decision, it is now a waiting game to see if other Circuits and District Courts will adopt the Tenth Circuit’s stance on personal jurisdiction/purposeful availment.

Post Hood v. America Auto Care, LLC

Accordingly, the recent case of Weisbein v. Allergan, Inc.3 provides some insight into the Ninth Circuit’s current position. In Weisbein, the defendant, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey, was also seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b)(2). The California Central District Court granted the defendant’s motion for dismissal. Furthermore, they proved that the plaintiff failed to show a connection between the forum and the specific claims at issue. As a result, the plaintiff failed to establish personal jurisdiction because the plaintiff received each of the texts while in Florida. Therefore, this was not an intentional act expressly aimed at California. The court was not persuaded by the fact that the defendant has California employees who have some involvement in authorizing, outsourcing, or overseeing the subject text program.

Despite this favorable holding to TCPA defendants, there is still an important distinction between Weisbein and Hood. The complaint in Weisbein  appears to  have excluded allegations of texts similar to the ones received by plaintiff. Comparatively, the Hood complaint does contain allegations regarding similar calls being sent to persons in Colorado.

We are patiently waiting to see what the other Circuits and District Courts will do in the wake of Ford and Hood. However, it is reassuring to know that in the Central District of California, calls made to persons outside of the forum state are not enough to establish personal jurisdiction.

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1. Hood v. Am. Auto Care, Ltd. Liab. Co., Civil Action No. 18-cv-02807-PAB-SKC, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49486 (D. Colo. Mar. 23, 2020)2. Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial Circuit District Court, 141 S. Ct. 1017 (2021)3. Weisbein v. Allergan, Inc., Case No. SA CV 20-0801 FMO (ADSx), 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79205 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 28. 2022)