839 F.2d 1415 (10th Cir. 1988), 85-2417, Rambo v. American Southern Ins. Co.

Docket Nº:85-2417.
Citation:839 F.2d 1415
Party Name:Vernon and Bonnie RAMBO, Plaintiffs/Appellants, v. AMERICAN SOUTHERN INSURANCE COMPANY, Mid South Claim Services, Inc., and W.T.R., Inc., Defendants/Appellees.
Case Date:February 26, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 1415

839 F.2d 1415 (10th Cir. 1988)

Vernon and Bonnie RAMBO, Plaintiffs/Appellants,

v.

AMERICAN SOUTHERN INSURANCE COMPANY, Mid South Claim

Services, Inc., and W.T.R., Inc., Defendants/Appellees.

No. 85-2417.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

February 26, 1988

Robert T. Keel, Keel and Kulmacz, Oklahoma City, Okl., for plaintiffs/appellants.

Cary E. Hiltgen, Law Offices of B.J. Cooper, Oklahoma City, Okl., for defendants/appellees.

Before LOGAN and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges, and CONWAY, [*] District Judge.

Page 1416

STEPHEN H. ANDERSON, Circuit Judge.

Vernon and Bonnie Rambo, plaintiffs below, appeal the dismissal of their action against American Southern Insurance Company, Mid South Claim Services, Inc., and W.T.R. Inc., for lack of personal jurisdiction. We affirm.

I.

In November 1984, the Rambos insured their 1976 International tractor-trailer truck with defendant American Southern Insurance Company ("American"). American is a Georgia corporation. The Rambos were residents of Alabama at the time the insurance contract was executed. The truck was leased to an Alabama freight company for cross-country hauling. Shortly thereafter, the Rambos moved to Texas. In December 1984, while the Rambos were living in Texas, the truck was stolen in California. The Rambos reported the theft to American. American employed defendant Mid South Claim Services, Inc. ("Mid South") to investigate and settle the claim. Mid South is also a Georgia corporation. After the truck was stolen and the claim filed, the Rambos moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Subsequently, the truck was recovered, but it was damaged. According to the Rambos, Mid South agreed to deliver the truck to Oklahoma City for repairs. However, Mid South hired defendant W.T.R., Inc. ("WTR"), a Texas corporation, to make the repairs and had the truck taken to Texas for the repair work. During this period, Mid South wrote several letters to the Rambos and also discussed the claim with the Rambos over the telephone. The Rambos were unhappy that the truck was repaired in Texas, and when they picked it up, the repairs were neither satisfactory nor complete.

The Rambos filed this action against American, Mid South and WTR in the federal district court for the Western District of Oklahoma alleging breach of contract and failure to deal in good faith. All three defendants appeared specially, objecting to the court's jurisdiction over them and filing motions to quash and dismiss. Each defendant filed an affidavit asserting that it had no business relationship with the state of Oklahoma: no office, no employees, no property, in short, nothing constituting a presence or contact in the forum state. In response, the Rambos offered the letters written to them in Oklahoma City by Mid South and an affidavit alleging "eight or ten telephone conversations with American Southern and/or Mid South after we moved to Oklahoma." R.Supp. Vol. I. 1 The district court granted the defendants' motions and dismissed the actions. This appeal followed.

II.

This appeal presents only one issue: could the district court in Oklahoma exercise personal jurisdiction over the nonresident corporate defendants?

"Whether a federal court has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant in a diversity action is determined by the law of the forum state." Yarbrough v. Elmer Bunker & Assocs., 669 F.2d 614, 616 (10th Cir.1982); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e). "The test for exercising long-arm jurisdiction in Oklahoma is to determine first whether the exercise of jurisdiction is authorized by statute and, if so, whether such exercise of jurisdiction is consistent with the constitutional requirements of due process." Yarbrough, 669 F.2d at 616 (quoting Luckett v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 618 F.2d 1373, 1385-86 (10th Cir.1980)). In Oklahoma, this two-part inquiry collapses into a single due process analysis, as the current Oklahoma long-arm statute provides that "A court of this state may exercise jurisdiction on any basis consistent with the Constitution of this state and the Constitution of the United States." Okla.Stat. tit. 12,

Page 1417

Sec. 2004 F. 2 See First City Bank, N.A. v. Air Capitol Aircraft Sales, Inc., 820 F.2d 1127, 1130-31 (10th Cir.1987); cf. FDIC v. British-American Ins. Co., Ltd., 828 F.2d 1439, 1441 (9th Cir.1987) ("Because the California statute extends jurisdiction to the maximum extent permitted by due process, the jurisdictional inquiries under the state statute and due process principles can be conducted as one analysis.") (citation omitted).

We have outlined the general test for personal jurisdiction under the federal Constitution many times.

"A federal court sitting in diversity 'may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant only so long as there exist 'minimum contacts' between the defendant and the forum state.' World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291 [100 S.Ct. 559, 564, 62 L.Ed.2d 490] (1980) (quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 [66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95] (1945)). 'The defendant's contacts with the forum State must be such that maintenance of the suit "does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' " ' World-Wide Volkswagen, supra, 444 U.S. at 292 [100 S.Ct. at 564] (quoting International Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316 [66 S.Ct. at 158] (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 [61 S.Ct. 339, 343, 85 L.Ed. 278] (1940))). The sufficiency of a defendant's contacts must be evaluated by examining the defendant's conduct and connections with the forum state to assess whether the defendant has 'purposefully avail[ed] itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State.' Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 [78 S.Ct. 1228, 1240, 2 L.Ed.2d 1283] (1958)."

First City Bank, 820 F.2d at 1130-31; see also Jones v. 3M Co., 107 F.R.D. 202, 205-06 (D.N.M.1984).

Appellate review of district court decisions on questions of jurisdiction was explained in Behagen v. Amateur Basketball Ass'n of the United States, 744 F.2d 731, 733 (10th Cir.1984), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1010, 105 S.Ct. 1879, 85 L.Ed.2d 171 (1985):

"The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Prior to trial, however, when a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is decided on the basis of affidavits and other written materials, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing. The allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits. If the parties present conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes are resolved in the plaintiff's favor, and the plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving party."

(citations omitted); see also Ten Mile Indus. Park v. Western Plains Service Corp., 810 F.2d 1518, 1524 (10th Cir.1987). We review a district court's ruling on a...

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