United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.
Webster Smith alleges that defendants Windy Hill Foliage,
Inc., Sunco Carriers, Inc., and HireRight, LLC, violated the
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1681 et. seq. (2012), causing Sunco to
terminate his employment. HireRight and Sunco have moved to
dismiss Smith's claims against them under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), arguing that the court lacks
personal jurisdiction. (Dkt. ##13, 17.) Instead of responding
to the defendants' motions to dismiss, Smith filed a
motion to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) to the
Middle District of Florida. (Dkt. #21.) Defendant Windy Hill
opposes transfer, preferring to remain in Wisconsin where it
is headquartered. As explained below, the record shows that
the Middle District of Florida has personal jurisdiction over
all parties, and the transfer is in the interest of justice.
Accordingly, plaintiff's motion to transfer is granted.
Windy Hill, a Florida corporation with its principal place of
business in Marshfield, Wisconsin, employed Smith as a
tractor-trailer driver through October 2015. That month,
Smith took his tractor-trailer to a service center for
repairs. Shortly after, Smith alleges that he voluntarily
left his position.
after Smith left its employ, Windy Hill advised defendant
HireRight, a consumer credit reporting agency, that: (1)
Smith had been involved in a preventable accident before the
October repairs; and (2) he was a “no show” for
work. Smith contends this information is false. HireRight is
a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place
of business in Irvine, California.
month after his departure from Windy Hill, defendant Sunco, a
Florida corporation with its principal place of business in
Lakeland, Florida, hired Smith as a company driver. Just a
month later, Sunco terminated Smith. After the termination,
Smith learned HireRight provided a report to Sunco detailing
his employment history, including the false information from
his Wisconsin employer.
Defendants HireRight's and Sunco's Motions to
reflected by plaintiff's decision to move to transfer,
rather than oppose defendants' motions to dismiss, this
court lacks personal jurisdiction over either HireRight or
Sunco. Nevertheless, the court will set forth the reasons for
this in light of the remaining defendant Windy Hills'
opposition to transfer plaintiff's claim against it. The
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires a
finding of “minimum contacts” between the
defendant and the forum state for a court to exercise
personal jurisdiction, “such that the maintenance of
the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.” Brook v. McCormley, 873
F.3d 549, 552 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co.
v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)) (internal quotation
marks omitted). A court may establish jurisdiction over a
defendant either through general or specific jurisdiction.
General Personal Jurisdiction
jurisdiction requires a defendant to have “continuous
and systematic” contacts with the forum state, such
that it is essentially “at home.” BNSF Ry. v.
Tyrrell, 137 S.Ct. 1539, 1558 (2017). A corporate
defendant is typically “at home” only in its
place of incorporation and its principal place of business.
Id. In the “exceptional case, ” general
jurisdiction may be found where the defendant's contacts
“may be so substantial and of such a nature to render
the corporation at home in that State.” Id.
(quoting Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 761
(2014)). Moreover, in determining whether it can exercise
general jurisdiction over a corporate defendant, a court must
consider the corporation's activities in their entirety
-- “nationwide and worldwide” -- because
“[a] corporation that operates in many places can
scarcely be deemed at home in all of them.”
Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 762 n.20.
HireRight nor Sunco even arguably fall under this court's
general personal jurisdiction. Not only is HireRight a
Delaware limited liability company with its principal place
of business in Irvine, California, it has no
physical presence in Wisconsin and its customers in Wisconsin
account for less than 1.5% of its revenue. (Aldrich Decl.
(dkt. #15) ¶¶ 3-4; Compl. (dkt. #1) ¶9.) As
for Sunco, it is incorporated in Florida, and maintains its
principal place of business in Lakeland,
Florida. (Templin Decl. (dkt. #19) ¶ 2.)
Moreover, Sunco has no physical presence in Wisconsin.
(Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.) Finally, while Sunco
occasionally delivers goods to Wisconsin, these deliveries
comprise less than one percent of its business. (Id.
at ¶ 8.)
leaves only the possibility of specific personal jurisdiction
over either HireRight or Sunco. Specific jurisdiction
requires: (1) the defendant's purposeful direction of
activities at the forum state or purposeful availing of the
privilege of conducting business in the forum state; (2) the
alleged injury arises out of the defendant's
forum-directed activities; and (3) the exercise of specific
jurisdiction comports with traditional notions of fair play
and substantial justice. See Tamburo v. Dworkin, 601
F.3d 693, 702 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Burger King Corp.
v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985)). “The
action must directly arise out of the specific contacts