Patterson v. Aker Solutions Inc.

Citation826 F.3d 231
Decision Date13 June 2016
Docket NumberNo. 15-30690,15-30690
PartiesDanny Patterson, Plaintiff–Appellant v. Aker Solutions Incorporated; FMC Technologies, Incorporated; FMC Eurasia, L.L.C. ; Aker Subsea as, Defendants–Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)

826 F.3d 231

Danny Patterson, Plaintiff–Appellant
v.
Aker Solutions Incorporated; FMC Technologies, Incorporated; FMC Eurasia, L.L.C. ; Aker Subsea as, Defendants–Appellees.

No. 15-30690

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Filed June 13, 2016


Timothy John Young, Esq., Young Firm, New Orleans, LA, Ted B. Lyon, Jr., Ted B. Lyon & Associates, P.C., Mesquite, TX, for Plaintiff–Appellant.

David Sinnott Bland, Matthew Guy, James DeJean Prescott, III, Esq., Bland & Partners, P.L.L.C., Leo R. McAloon, III, Esq., Ernest Paul Gieger, Jr., Esq., Gieger, Laborde & Laperouse, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, for Defendants–Appellees.

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, DENNIS, and CLEMENT, Circuit Judges.

EDITH BROWN CLEMENT, Circuit Judge:

In this personal injury suit arising out of events occurring in waters off the coast of Russia, Danny Patterson appeals the district court's dismissal of defendant Aker Subsea AS (“Aker Subsea”), for lack of

826 F.3d 233

personal jurisdiction. For the following reasons, we AFFIRM.

I.

Patterson, a U.S. citizen, allegedly sustained a knee injury while working aboard the M/V SIMON STEVIN, a Luxembourg-flagged vessel that was located off the coast of Russia. Patterson was working for Blue Offshore Projects BV (“Blue Offshore”) on a project to install subsea production equipment in a gas and condensate field. While aboard the M/V SIMON STEVIN, Patterson claims that he was struck by a cable and was injured.

Patterson sued Blue Offshore and two other companies involved in the project, Aker Solutions, Inc. (“Aker Solutions”) and FMC Technologies, Inc., in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Patterson alleged that the defendants' negligence caused his injuries. Patterson amended his complaint and added more defendants including Aker Subsea, FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS (“FMC Kongsberg”), and FMC Eurasia, LLC. Aker Subsea and FMC Kongsberg separately moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court allowed Patterson additional time to conduct jurisdictional discovery. After completion of the jurisdictional discovery, the district court found that neither specific nor general personal jurisdiction existed over Aker Subsea or FMC Kongsberg. Thus, it granted their motions and dismissed them from the suit.

Patterson sought to certify the district court's dismissal order as a final judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). Simultaneously, he appealed the dismissal to this court, arguing that the district court has general personal jurisdiction over both Aker Subsea and FMC Kongsberg. We stayed the appeal pending the district court's determination of the 54(b) motion. The same day, we granted Patterson's unopposed motion to dismiss FMC Kongsberg. After the district court certified its order as final, we lifted the stay. We now consider whether the district court erred in dismissing Aker Subsea under Rule 12(b)(2).1

II.

We review de novo the district court's Rule 12(b)(2) dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. Revell v. Lidov , 317 F.3d 467, 469 (5th Cir. 2002). “The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction, but need only present prima facie evidence.” Id. We “must accept the plaintiff's uncontroverted allegations, and resolve in [his] favor all conflicts between the facts contained in the parties' affidavits and other documentation.” Id. (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted).

III.

Patterson argues that the district court erred by dismissing Aker Subsea because, in his view, it has sufficient contacts with the United States to establish general personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2).2 Patterson contends that over a three-year period, Aker Subsea entered into eleven secondment

826 F.3d 234

agreements3 whereby it would assign its employees to an American affiliate in Houston, Texas. Under the secondment agreements, the employees sent to the United States remained employees of Aker Subsea. To Patterson, this shows continuous and systematic contacts in the United States sufficient to assert general jurisdiction over Aker Subsea.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2)4 “provides for service of process and personal jurisdiction in any district court for cases arising under federal law where the defendant has contacts with the United States as a whole sufficient to satisfy due process concerns and the defendant is not subject to jurisdiction in any particular state.” Adams v. Unione Mediterranea Di Sicurta , 364 F.3d 646, 650 (5th Cir. 2004). Here, the dispute is whether Aker Subsea has sufficient contacts with the United States to satisfy due process.

“The due process required in federal cases governed by Rule 4(k)(2) is measured with reference to the Fifth Amendment, rather than the Fourteenth Amendment. That is, Rule 4(k)(2) requires us to consider [Aker Subsea's] contacts with the United States as a whole....” Submersible Sys., Inc. v. Perforadora Cent., S.A. de C.V. , 249 F.3d 413, 420 (5th Cir. 2001). Thus, to assert general personal jurisdiction under Rule 4(k)(2), Aker Subsea's contacts with the United States must be so continuous and systematic as to render it essentially at home in the United States. See id. ; Daimler AG v. Bauman , ––– U.S. ––––, 134 S.Ct. 746, 761, 187 L.Ed.2d 624 (2014) (“[T]he inquiry under [Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown , 564 U.S. 915, 919, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011) ] is not whether a foreign corporation's in-forum contacts can be said to be in some sense ‘continuous and systematic,’ it is whether that corporation's ‘affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic’ as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State.' ”).

The proper forum for exercising general jurisdiction over a corporation is one in which a corporation is fairly regarded at home. Goodyear , 564 U.S. at 924, 131 S.Ct. 2846 (citing Brilmayer et al., A General Look at General Jurisdiction , 66 Tex. L. Rev. 721, 782 (1988) (identifying place of incorporation and principal place of business as paradigm bases for the exercise of general jurisdiction)). Both Aker Subsea's place of incorporation and principal place of business are in Norway. Thus, to exercise general jurisdiction here, these facts must yield what the Supreme Court has described as the “exceptional case.”5

826 F.3d 235

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