Humphreys v. Pierce, Civ. A. No. 79-0151-B.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtGLEN M. WILLIAMS
Citation512 F. Supp. 1321
PartiesBill G. HUMPHREYS, Plaintiff, v. J. R. PIERCE, Jr., Defendant.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 79-0151-B.
Decision Date06 May 1981

512 F. Supp. 1321

Bill G. HUMPHREYS, Plaintiff,
v.
J. R. PIERCE, Jr., Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 79-0151-B.

United States District Court, W. D. Virginia.

May 6, 1981.


512 F. Supp. 1322

Carl E. McAfee, Norton, Va., for plaintiff.

Robert T. Winston, Norton, Va., for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GLEN M. WILLIAMS, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Bill G. Humphreys, a resident of Gate City, Virginia, brings this action for deceit against J. R. Pierce, Jr., a resident of Kingsport, Tennessee. Jurisdiction is predicated upon diversity of citizenship and more than $10,000.00 in controversy exclusive of interest and costs. Title 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The question presented is whether a nonresident defendant who has made a material misrepresentation in Virginia causing a resident plaintiff to sustain economic injury can be compelled to defend an action for deceit here.

I.

It appears from a September 1, 1979, deposition of the parties that sometime in 1978 defendant came to Virginia for the

512 F. Supp. 1323
purpose of finding someone to do some grading work on his mother's property located in Sullivan County, Tennessee, in exchange for an interest in the property. While in Virginia, he was given the name of the plaintiff as a prospect, and he visited the plaintiff's home in Gate City, Virginia. Plaintiff was not at home and defendant left a map on which he wrote, in part, as follows
"Mr. Humphreys, I own about 200 acres. My plans are to return to Wyoming. I just wondered if you would be interested in leasing or buying any of this.
I wish you would call me ...."

Defendant identified the property on the map and left his name and Tennessee telephone number. Finding the note later that evening, plaintiff contacted defendant and expressed an interest in discussing the matter further. Plaintiff met defendant in Tennessee where all additional negotiations took place, and at no time did the defendant return to the State of Virginia for any purpose related to the transaction. An agreement was allegedly reached which, in part, called for plaintiff to perform some grading work. Plaintiff allegedly purchased some heavy equipment necessary for the work and began the grading process. A disagreement arose concerning the nature of performance contemplated, and the plaintiff learned that defendant's mother, and not defendant, was in fact the owner of the property. Plaintiff commenced this action for deceit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia for economic injury he allegedly incurred as a result of plaintiff's misrepresentation concerning ownership of the property. Jurisdiction over defendant is asserted pursuant to Va.Code Ann. § 8.01-328.1, A, 3, which provides that "a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, who acts directly or by agent, as to a cause of action arising from the person's causing tortious injury by an act or omission in this State." Defendant has moved to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction. Finding the exercise of jurisdiction within the contemplation of the Virginia long-arm statute and consonant with notions of fair play and substantial justice and not injurious to principles of state sovereignty, defendant's motion will be denied.

II. The Court's Two-Step Inquiry

Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides the manner in which process is to be served upon various classes of defendants. As an alternative, it also provides for service in any manner which is prescribed by the law of the forum state. When jurisdiction is sought pursuant to the Virginia long-arm statute, a two step inquiry is required: first, it must be determined whether the statutory language permits service of process on the non-resident defendant; and second, it must be determined whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction under the statute is consonant with the due process clause of the United States Constitution. Haynes v. James H. Carr, Inc., 427 F.2d 700, 703 (4th Cir. 1970). See Viers v. Mounts, 466 F.Supp. 187, 189-190 (W.D.Va.1979). These two steps are interrelated, however, as the Virginia long-arm statute is a "deliberate and conscious effort on the part of the General Assembly of Virginia to assert jurisdiction over non-resident defendants to the extent permissible by the due process clause." Carmichael v. Snyder, 209 Va. 451, 456, 164 S.E.2d 703, 707 (1968).

A. The Statutory Requirements

As to the first inquiry, it is apparent that defendant's conduct falls within the language of Va.Code Ann. § 8.01-328.1,A,3. That is, plaintiff's misrepresentation claims sufficiently allege the common law action of deceit, Mears v. Accomack Banking Co., 160 Va. 311, 168 S.E. 740 (1933); Green, Deceit, 16 Va.L.Rev. 749 (1930); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 525, and that action arises out of defendant's misrepresentation in Virginia, resulting in tortious injury here. Accordingly, the court finds that the language of Va.Code Ann. § 8.01-328.1,A,3 permits service of process on the defendant.

512 F. Supp. 1324

B. The Dictates of Due Process

Due process considerations operate as a limitation on the jurisdiction of a court to enter a judgment affecting rights or interests of...

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5 practice notes
  • Verizon Online Services, Inc. v. Ralsky, No. CIV.A. 01-432-A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • June 6, 2002
    ...that a tortfeasor shall be liable for damages which are the proximate results of a tort. Id. at cmt c. See Humphreys v. Pierce, 512 F.Supp. 1321, 1326 (W.D.Va.1981) (relying on second restatement to hold that material misrepresentations in Virginia causing plaintiff to sustain economic inju......
  • United Coal Co. v. Land Use Corp., Civ. A. No. 82-0218-A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • December 8, 1983
    ...sufficient contacts to authorize the appointment of a statutory agent which accepted service of process. Relying on Humphreys v. Pierce, 512 F.Supp. 1321 (W.D.Va.1981), plaintiffs assert that since in personam jurisdiction exists, service of process is Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civi......
  • Harman v. Pauley, Civ. A. No. 80-1075.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • September 24, 1981
    ...286, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980); Haynes v. James H. Carr, Inc., 427 F.2d 700, 703 (4th Cir. 1970). See Humphreys v. Pierce, 512 F.Supp. 1321, 1323 522 F. Supp. 1134 A. THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS The Court first addresses plaintiff's claims regarding revocation of a trust agreement......
  • Herrington v. MISSISSIPPI REGIONAL MEDICAL CTR., Civ. A. No. J77-0396(N).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • May 6, 1981
    ...hospital policy which has adversely affected her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The jury found that Logue acted in good faith 512 F. Supp. 1321 in terminating the plaintiff (Interrogatory No. 6B). Plaintiff's evidence indicated that Hayden acted out of personal animus rather than th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Verizon Online Services, Inc. v. Ralsky, No. CIV.A. 01-432-A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • June 6, 2002
    ...that a tortfeasor shall be liable for damages which are the proximate results of a tort. Id. at cmt c. See Humphreys v. Pierce, 512 F.Supp. 1321, 1326 (W.D.Va.1981) (relying on second restatement to hold that material misrepresentations in Virginia causing plaintiff to sustain economic inju......
  • United Coal Co. v. Land Use Corp., Civ. A. No. 82-0218-A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • December 8, 1983
    ...sufficient contacts to authorize the appointment of a statutory agent which accepted service of process. Relying on Humphreys v. Pierce, 512 F.Supp. 1321 (W.D.Va.1981), plaintiffs assert that since in personam jurisdiction exists, service of process is Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civi......
  • Harman v. Pauley, Civ. A. No. 80-1075.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • September 24, 1981
    ...286, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980); Haynes v. James H. Carr, Inc., 427 F.2d 700, 703 (4th Cir. 1970). See Humphreys v. Pierce, 512 F.Supp. 1321, 1323 522 F. Supp. 1134 A. THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS The Court first addresses plaintiff's claims regarding revocation of a trust agreement......
  • Herrington v. MISSISSIPPI REGIONAL MEDICAL CTR., Civ. A. No. J77-0396(N).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • May 6, 1981
    ...hospital policy which has adversely affected her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The jury found that Logue acted in good faith 512 F. Supp. 1321 in terminating the plaintiff (Interrogatory No. 6B). Plaintiff's evidence indicated that Hayden acted out of personal animus rather than th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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