188 F.3d 619 (5th Cir. 1999), 97-30897, Guidry v United States Tobacco Co. Inc.

Docket Nº:97-30897
Citation:188 F.3d 619
Party Name:Charles Guidry; Charlene Guidry, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. United States Tobacco Company, Inc., et al. Defendants, Smokeless Tobacco Council, Inc.; Smokeless Tobacco Research Council, Inc.; Tobacco Institute, Inc.; Council for Tobacco Research--USA, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:September 14, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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188 F.3d 619 (5th Cir. 1999)

Charles Guidry; Charlene Guidry, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

United States Tobacco Company, Inc., et al. Defendants,

Smokeless Tobacco Council, Inc.; Smokeless Tobacco Research Council, Inc.; Tobacco Institute, Inc.; Council for Tobacco Research--USA, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 97-30897

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

September 14, 1999

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana

Before REYNALDO G. GARZA, POLITZ, and DENNIS, Circuit Judges.

DENNIS, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs-Appellants Charles and Charlene Guidry appeal from the district court's dismissal, for lack of personal jurisdiction, of their civil actions against Defendants-Appellees, Smokeless Tobacco Council, Inc.; Smokeless Tobacco Research Council, Inc.; Tobacco Institute, Inc.; and, Council for Tobacco Research--USA, Inc. Concluding that the plaintiffs have established a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction sufficient to avoid dismissal without an evidentiary hearing, we reverse and remand.

I. Facts and Procedural History

Charles and Charlene Guidry, residents of Louisiana, filed suit in Louisiana state court against six tobacco manufacturers, United States Tobacco Co., Pinkerton Tobacco Co., Conwood Company, L.P., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris Incorporated, and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.; and four of the tobacco manufacturers' trade associations, Smokeless Tobacco Council, Inc., Smokeless Tobacco Research Council, Inc., Tobacco Institute, Inc., and Council for Tobacco Research--USA, Inc. None of the defendants is a resident of Louisiana, and none of the tobacco trade associations is qualified to do business in Louisiana.

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The plaintiffs alleged, principally, that each tobacco manufacturer and each tobacco trade association made intentional misrepresentations in Louisiana to Charles Guidry and other residents that the products of the tobacco manufacturers sold in the state were not addictive or carcinogenic; that when the tobacco manufacturers and the tobacco trade associations made these misrepresentations they knew, not only that the tobacco products would cause addiction and cancer, but that the tobacco manufacturers manipulated the levels of nicotine in their tobacco products to create a highly compulsive physiological need for nicotine in Charles Guidry and other residents of the state; that Charles Guidry, while in Louisiana, relied on each defendant's knowingly false representations, purchased and used the tobacco manufacturers' products, became heavily addicted to nicotine, and contracted cancer from the tobacco.1 The plaintiffs also allege that the tobacco trade associations, in addition to individually committing delictual offenses and quasi-offenses causing the plaintiffs injury and damage in Louisiana, conspired and acted in concert with each other and the tobacco manufacturers to conceal or falsely minimize the addictive and carcinogenic effects of the tobacco products from the plaintiffs, to create a false impression that no evidence of tobacco addiction or carcinogenesis had been found even after diligent scientific research, and to thereby create in Charles Guidry and other residents in Louisiana the false impression that the addictive and carcinogenic effects of the tobacco products were much less than the defendants knew them to be.

Service of process on the four tobacco trade association defendants was made under the Louisiana long-arm statute, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:3204 (West 1991). All of the defendants removed the case to the federal district court. The four tobacco trade association defendants moved under Rule 12(b)(2) to dismiss the suit against them for lack of personal jurisdiction. The original district court judge to whom the motion was assigned denied it based on his findings that (1) the plaintiffs had presented a prima facie case for specific personal jurisdiction; and (2) the exercise of personal jurisdiction over those defendants will not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

A different district court judge, in response to the tobacco trade associations' motion, certified under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) one part of the personal jurisdiction inquiry, i.e., whether there was personal jurisdiction based on "the foreign defendants' alleged conspiracy with in-state defendants." A panel of this court denied certification of an appeal on the question. Guidry v. United States Tobacco Co., No. 97-00110 (5th Cir. Jun. 17, 1997). The tobacco trade association defendants moved for reconsideration of the original district judge's decision denying their Rule 12(b)(2) motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After reassignment of all motions to a different judge, the district court granted reconsideration and dismissed the four tobacco trade association defendants from the suit. In its memorandum ruling the district court assigned reasons stating that (1) specific personal jurisdiction was lacking because the plaintiffs' allegations of a conspiracy between the tobacco trade associations and the tobacco manufacturers were merely "conclusory;" and (2) general personal jurisdiction was not present because the alleged contacts between the four trade association defendants and the forum were not "substantial, continuous and systematic."2 The plaintiffs appealed.

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II. Discussion

The single issue presented by the appeal is whether the district court had personal jurisdiction over the tobacco trade association defendants. We look first to Louisiana's "long-arm" statute, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:3201 (West 1991). This law extends personal jurisdiction of courts sitting in Louisiana, including federal courts, to the limits permitted under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. v. Avco Corp., 513 So.2d 1188, 1192 (La. 1987); See Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. v. Avco Corp., 834 F.2d 510 (5th Cir. 1987); Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. v. Avco Corp., 804 F.2d 1367 (5th Cir. 1986). Our sole inquiry, therefore, is whether the district court could, consistent with due process, assert personal jurisdiction over the tobacco trade association defendants.

The due process clause of Fourteenth Amendment protects an individual's liberty interest in not being subject to the binding judgments of a forum with which he has established no meaningful "'contacts, ties, or relations.'" Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985) (quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319 (1945)). Due process generally demands that the nonresident defendant have "certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" International Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 316 (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)).

Minimum contacts with a forum state may arise incident to a federal court's "general" or "specific" jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. See Bullion v. Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 216 (5th Cir. 1990). If a defendant has sufficient "continuous and systematic" general contacts with the state, e.g., see Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 446 (1952), the forum may exercise general personal jurisdiction over the defendant for a "cause of action [that] does not arise out of or relate to the [defendant's] activities in the forum state." Helicopteros Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 (1952). The district court determined, and the plaintiffs do not argue to the contrary, that the tobacco trade association defendants' contacts with Louisiana were insufficient to support general personal jurisdiction.

The plaintiffs contend, however, that the state or federal courts in Louisiana may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants because this controversy "is related to or 'arises out of' [the defendants'] contacts with the forum." See id.(citing Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977)). We are required to examine the relationship between the defendants, the forum

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state, and the litigation, See Shaffer, 433 U.S. at 204, to determine "whether the defendant[s] purposefully established 'minimum contacts' in the forum state" so that it was foreseeable "that the defendant[s] conduct and connection with the forum state are such that [they] should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there." Burger King Corp., 471 U.S. at 474 (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980)).

The analysis of specific jurisdiction may be refined further into a three-part test: (1) Did the defendant have minimum contacts with the forum state--purposely directing its activities toward the forum state or purposely availing itself of the privilege of conducting activities therein? (2) Did the plaintiffs cause of action arise out of or result from the defendant's forum-related contacts? (3) Would the exercise of personal jurisdiction be reasonable and fair? 4 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1069, at 174 (Supp. 1999) (citing authorities).

Procedurally, the party invoking the jurisdiction of a federal court bears the burden of establishing minimum contacts justifying the court's jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Bullion, 895 F.2d at 216; Brown v. Flowers Industries, Inc., 688 F.2d 328, 332 (5th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1023 (1983). When a court rules on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without holding an evidentiary hearing, as in the present case, however, the nonmoving party need only make a prima facie showing, and the court must accept as true the nonmover's allegations and resolve all factual disputes in its favor. Latshaw v....

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