Stover v. O'Connell Associates, Inc., No. 94-1309

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HALL, NIEMEYER, and LUTTIG; NIEMEYER
Citation84 F.3d 132
PartiesRichard D. STOVER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. O'CONNELL ASSOCIATES, INCORPORATED, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 94-1309
Decision Date14 May 1996

Page 132

84 F.3d 132
Richard D. STOVER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
O'CONNELL ASSOCIATES, INCORPORATED, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 94-1309.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fourth Circuit.
Argued Jan. 29, 1996.
Decided May 14, 1996.

Page 133

ARGUED: William Thomas Fitzhugh, Beddow, Marley, Burgess & Associates, Chesterfield, Virginia, for Appellant. Andrew Jay Graham, Kramon & Graham, P.A., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Kevin F. Arthur, Kramon & Graham, P.A., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

Before HALL, NIEMEYER, and LUTTIG, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge NIEMEYER wrote the opinion, in which Judge HALL and Judge LUTTIG joined.

Page 134

OPINION

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

In this case, we revisit the statutory and constitutional limits of Maryland's long-arm statute, Md.Code Ann., Cts. & Jud.Proc. § 6-103. Assuming that the statute extends jurisdiction to the limits of due process, we hold that Maryland courts may, nonetheless, not exercise personal jurisdiction over a New York private investigation firm whose only connection with Maryland was its occasional retention by telephone of Maryland investigation companies to provide it with information about Maryland subjects, including the plaintiff in this case. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court dismissing the case for lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

I

When Richard D. Stover, a Maryland resident, obtained a copy of his consumer credit file in September 1992, he discovered that O'Connell Associates, Inc., a New York private investigation company, had requested and obtained information about him from Equifax Corporation. While Stover suspects that O'Connell Associates requested the information because of his work with Ross Perot's presidential campaign, he acknowledges that he has never been informed of O'Connell's reason for requesting the information and makes no allegations concerning O'Connell's purpose for requesting the information or the persons to whom the information was submitted. He claims, however, that because consumer reports may be furnished only for limited purposes, O'Connell violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., its Maryland analog, Md.Code Ann., Com.Law II § 14-1201 et seq., and his common law right to privacy. He alleges that O'Connell's conduct caused him injury in Maryland, for which he demands $50,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages.

O'Connell filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) to dismiss the complaint, contending that it was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Maryland. While representing that it had never had property or agents in Maryland, O'Connell acknowledged that it had occasionally used Maryland investigation firms to obtain information about Maryland subjects.

In connection with its investigation of Stover, O'Connell states that, through use of a computer terminal in its New York office, it obtained Stover's name, address, birthdate, social security number, and place of employment from Equifax. O'Connell also acknowledges that it telephoned Montgomery Investigative Services, Ltd., a licensed private investigation firm in Rockville, Maryland, and retained that firm to conduct a "criminal check" on Stover and determine whether Stover had "any ties to KKK or any known white supremist [sic] group." O'Connell maintains that from Montgomery Investigative Services it received information only from public court records. It asserts that it provided the information procured from Equifax and Montgomery Investigative Services to its client in California.

On O'Connell's motion to dismiss, the district court concluded that O'Connell's "intermittent historical contacts" with Maryland were not sufficiently "extensive, continuous and systematic" to sustain general jurisdiction over O'Connell. The court also concluded that it did not have specific jurisdiction over O'Connell because Stover's claims did not arise out of any conduct by O'Connell in Maryland; all of O'Connell's conduct had occurred in New York. Accordingly, the district court granted O'Connell's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.

From the district court's dismissal order, this appeal was taken.

II

In analyzing a challenge to a court's exercise of personal jurisdiction, we first consider whether the state's long-arm statute authorizes the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant, and if we conclude that it does, we then determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with the Fourteenth Amendment due process requirements. See Ellicott Mach. Corp. v. John Holland Party, Ltd., 995 F.2d 474, 477 (4th

Page 135

Cir.1993); First American First, Inc. v. National Ass'n of Bank Women, 802 F.2d 1511, 1513-14 (4th Cir.1986).

Stover contends that O'Connell's conduct in obtaining "a copy of Stover's consumer credit report" from Equifax and in retaining Montgomery Investigative Services to determine whether Stover had "any ties to [the] KKK" or similar groups violated federal and state consumer protection laws and his common law right to privacy. Stover maintains that because O'Connell invaded his privacy in Maryland, causing tortious injury in the state by acts in the state, the requirements of Md.Code Ann., Cts. & Jud.Proc. § 6-103(b)(3) are satisfied. Focusing on "O'Connell's other investigations of Maryland residents," however, Stover rests his principal jurisdictional claim on § 6-103(b)(4), which subjects a defendant to jurisdiction for conduct outside the state if the defendant has engaged in a "persistent course of conduct" in Maryland. On the federal due process issue, Stover argues that O'Connell "purposefully directed its tortious activity" at him, thereby causing him injury within Maryland. He maintains that tortious activity conducted outside a state that causes injury within the state "is a sufficient contact to comport with federal due process" under Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 79 L.Ed.2d...

To continue reading

Request your trial
148 practice notes
  • Blankenship v. Napolitano, Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00236
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • March 31, 2020
    ...necessarily merges with the constitutional inquiry, and the two inquiries essentially become one." Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135–36 (4th Cir. 1996).The applicable state law in West Virginia is the West Virginia long-arm statute, W. Va. Code § 56-3-33. Pittsburgh Termin......
  • Sky Cable, LLC v. Coley, Civil Action No. 5:11cv00048
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • July 11, 2013
    ...necessarily merges with the constitutional inquiry, and the two inquiries essentially become one." Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135-36 (4th Cir. 1996). The question, then, is whether the defendant has sufficient "minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance......
  • Hansen v. Scott, No. 20010195.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • June 10, 2002
    ...(3d Cir.1998); Aristech Chem. Int'l Ltd. v. Acrylic Fabricators Ltd., 138 F.3d 624, 627 (6th Cir.1998); Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135-36 (4th Cir.1996); Sawtelle v. Farrell, 70 F.3d 1381, 1388 (1st Cir.1995); Barone v. Rich Bros. Interstate Display Fireworks Co., 25 F.......
  • In re Chinese Manufactured Drywall Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL NO. 2047
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana
    • September 4, 2012
    ...essentially become one.'" Young v. New Haven Advocate, 315 F.3d 256, 261 (4th Cir. 2002)(quoting Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135-36 (4th Cir. 1996)). Once the Virginia long-arm statute is satisfied, the question simply becomes "whether the defendant has sufficient 'minim......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
148 cases
  • Blankenship v. Napolitano, Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00236
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • March 31, 2020
    ...necessarily merges with the constitutional inquiry, and the two inquiries essentially become one." Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135–36 (4th Cir. 1996).The applicable state law in West Virginia is the West Virginia long-arm statute, W. Va. Code § 56-3-33. Pittsburgh Termin......
  • Sky Cable, LLC v. Coley, Civil Action No. 5:11cv00048
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • July 11, 2013
    ...necessarily merges with the constitutional inquiry, and the two inquiries essentially become one." Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135-36 (4th Cir. 1996). The question, then, is whether the defendant has sufficient "minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance......
  • Hansen v. Scott, No. 20010195.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • June 10, 2002
    ...(3d Cir.1998); Aristech Chem. Int'l Ltd. v. Acrylic Fabricators Ltd., 138 F.3d 624, 627 (6th Cir.1998); Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135-36 (4th Cir.1996); Sawtelle v. Farrell, 70 F.3d 1381, 1388 (1st Cir.1995); Barone v. Rich Bros. Interstate Display Fireworks Co., 25 F.......
  • In re Chinese Manufactured Drywall Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL NO. 2047
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana
    • September 4, 2012
    ...essentially become one.'" Young v. New Haven Advocate, 315 F.3d 256, 261 (4th Cir. 2002)(quoting Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135-36 (4th Cir. 1996)). Once the Virginia long-arm statute is satisfied, the question simply becomes "whether the defendant has sufficient 'minim......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT