United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
CRAIG R. SUMTER, Plaintiff,
CREIGHTON R. HUSSEY, QUALITY PROJECT MANAGEMENT, LLC, JOHN DOE, Defendants.
Sumter v. Quality Project Management, LLC, CV416-108
(S.D. Ga. May 10, 2016), pro se plaintiff Craig
Sumter sued Quality Project Management, LLC (QPM), claiming
that QPM employee Creighton Hussey "physically attacked
[him] on October 19, 2013 in Plaintiffs apartment while in
Atlanta Georgia for work, under the auspices of [QPM]."
Doc. 1 at 1-2. Suing only QPM (in CV416-108), Sumter alleges
that QPM is vicariously liable for Hussey's actions.
Id. at 1.
a second lawsuit, Sumter sued Hussey personally, and on
pretty much the same facts. Sumpter v. Hussey,
CV416-109, doc. 1 (S.D. Ga. May 10, 2016). The Court thus
consolidated CV416-108 into CV416- 109 - sparing him two
filing fees. It also granted his motion to proceed in
forma pauperis (IFP), then ordered him (since he was an
inmate when he filed this case) to return the required Prison
Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") forms, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(2). He has complied, (CV416-109, docs. 5 &
6) and, upon preliminary screening,  the Court concludes that
Sumter has established subject matter jurisdiction plus
personal jurisdiction over Hussey, but he states no claim
against QPM or John Doe. Further, the Northern District of
Georgia is a preferable venue for all of Sumter's claims,
so the Court transfers the case there. Rather than rule on
Sumter's claims piecemeal, however, the Court defers
recommending final disposition on any claims to allow review
JURISDICTION & VENUE
it can pass on Sumter's claims, this Court
must have at least one of the three types of subject-matter
jurisdiction: (1) jurisdiction pursuant to a specific
statutory grant; (2) federal question jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or (3) diversity jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Baltin v. Alaron
Trading Corp., 128 F.3d 1466, 1469 (11th Cir. 1997). The
party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of establishing
that their cause lies within this limited grant of
jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675 (1994). For actions brought
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the burden is on the party
seeking federal jurisdiction to demonstrate that diversity
exists by a preponderance of the evidence. Molinos Valle
Del Cibao, C. porA. v. Lama, 633 F.3d 1330, 1340 (11th
Cir. 2011). A Plaintiff must plead facts that support the
existence of federal diversity jurisdiction. McCormick v.
Aderholt, 293 F.3d 1254, 1257 (11th Cir. 2002); Las
Vistas Villas, S.A v. Petersen, 778 F.Supp. 1202, 1203
(M.D. Fla. 1991).
Lawrence v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2016 WL 7013528
at * 2 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 4, 2016); see also Id. (for
diversity, no defendant can be a citizen of the same state as
any plaintiff and the amount in controversy must exceed $75,
000); Holston Invs., Inc. B.V.I, v. LanLogistics
Corp., 677 F.3d 1068, 1070 (11th Cir. 2012)
("Diversity jurisdiction is determined at the time the
complaint was filed.").
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
has filed a consolidating, Amended Complaint in which he
pleads diversity jurisdiction and adds a "John Doe"
defendant. Doc. 7 at 1-2. He sues Hussey for state-law torts
(assault, battery, stalking, invasion of privacy, etc.) that
occurred in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Id. at 4
("Mr. Hussey justifies his presence in Atlanta by
bidding for work trips in the area but his true intent has
been to stalk plaintiff."); see also Id. ¶
6 ("On two occasions Mr. Hussey attempted to persuade
Plaintiff to move out of Atlanta, once threatening his
life"). Plaintiff sues QPM because Hussey came to
Atlanta while employed by QPM. He otherwise does not allege
that Hussey was acting within the scope of QPM's
employment. Id. at 3. Sumter initially sought $125,
000, doc. 1 at 6, but now wants $6, 125, 000 from all three
defendants. Id. at 14. That meets the $75, 000
leaves the residency requirement. Sumter is incarcerated
within this judicial district (Wheeler Correctional Facility
in Wheeler County, Georgia). Doc. 7 at 15. Hussey is a
Minnesota resident and QPM (possibly) is an Arizona
resident. Id. at 2. Plaintiff provides no
information about John Doe. Id. For the moment, he
has established diversity jurisdiction (involving over $75,
000 in claims against citizens of different states).
must also allege sufficient facts to establish personal
jurisdiction over each defendant. United Techs. Corp. v.
Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009);
Brannies v. Internet ROI, Inc., 67 F.Supp.3d 1360,
1362 (S.D. Ga. 2014). Here the case law delves in
"general" versus "specific" jurisdiction
distinctions. General (also known as "all-purpose")
jurisdiction over a defendant is based on a forum nexus (the
defendant's domicile, for example) unrelated to
the conduct on which the underlying suit is
premised. Walden v. Fiore, ___ U.S. ___,
134 S.Ct. 1115, 1122 n. 6 (2014).
(case-linked) jurisdiction turns on the nexus between the
forum and the underlying controversy - the action in the
forum state that subjects the actor to that state's
regulation: "A, " a non-Georgian, commits an
intentional tort or performs a certain contract in Georgia.
"A" can be haled into that state when sued on that
tort or contract. Specific jurisdiction thus has been
over defendants who have purposefully reached out beyond
their State and into another by, for example, entering a
contractual relationship that "envisioned continuing and
wide-reaching contacts" in the forum State, or by
circulating magazines to deliberately exploit a market in the
forum State. And although physical presence in the forum is
not a prerequisite to jurisdiction, physical entry into the
State -- either by the defendant in person or through an
agent, goods, mail, or some other means -- is certainly a
Walden, 134 S.Ct. at 1122 (quotes, cites and
summarize, the exercise of specific jurisdiction over, for
example, an out-of-state intentional tortfeasor, must be
based on intentional conduct that creates the necessary
contacts with the forum. Walden, 134 S.Ct. at
1122-23. How many is a matter of degree: "Due process
requires that a defendant be haled into court in a forum
State based on his own affiliation with the State, not based
on the random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts he makes by
interacting with other persons affiliated with the
State." Id. at 1123. But the standard is
spongy: "A forum State's exercise of jurisdiction
over an out-of-state intentional tortfeasor must be based on
intentional conduct by the defendant that creates the
necessary contacts with the forum."
Id. (emphasis added). "Necessary, " say
lower courts, means that the defendant's conduct supplies
the "but- for" cause of the tort at issue.
Waite v. All Acquisition Corp., 2016 WL 2346743 at
*3 (S.D. Fla. May 4, 2016); Erwin v. Ford Motor
Company, 2016 WL 7655398 at * 7 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 31,
by the way, demonstrates what does not make the
specific-jurisdiction grade. There two airline passengers
brought a Bivens action against a police officer,
alleging that he violated their Fourth Amendment rights by
seizing their gambling cash from them in Atlanta, Georgia on
their return trip to Nevada. The officer (by way of a bogus
forfeiture affidavit) retained their money even after
concluding that it did not come from drug-related activity.
Walden, 134 S.Ct. at 1119-20. The Nevada federal
court where the plaintiffs sued him dismissed him for lack of
personal jurisdiction, but the Ninth Circuit reversed: The
officer had "expressly aimed his submission of the
allegedly false affidavit at Nevada by submitting the
affidavit with knowledge that it would affect persons with a
significant connection to Nevada." Id. at 1121
(quotes and cite omitted).
that "[f]ederal courts ordinarily follow state law in
determining the bounds of their jurisdiction over persons,
" but any such exercise of jurisdiction must
"compor[t] with the limits imposed by federal due
process, " Walden, 134 S.Ct. at 1121, the
Supreme Court held that the officer lacked the minimal
contacts with Nevada required for exercise of personal
jurisdiction - even if he knew that his allegedly tortious
conduct in Georgia would delay the return of the money to the
passengers with connections to Nevada. Id. The
defendant officer was not subject to jurisdiction in Nevada
because the Nevada resident plaintiff was the only link
between him and that forum, and that was simply not enough.
Id. at 1126. "Due process requires that a
defendant be haled into court in a forum State based on his
own affiliation with the State, not based on the random,
fortuitous, or attenuated contacts he makes by interacting
with other persons affiliated with the State."
Id. at 1123 (quotes and cite omitted). Officer
Walden's contacts never went beyond that threshold.
Id. at 1126 (his "relevant conduct occurred
entirely in Georgia, and the mere fact that his conduct
affected plaintiffs with connections to the forum State does
not suffice to authorize jurisdiction.").
The Court must always focus on the "'relationship
among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation'
[which] is the essential foundation of in personam
jurisdiction." Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia,
S.A. v. Hall,466 U.S. 408, 414 (1984) (quoting
Shaffer v. Heitner,433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977)).
"The proper question is not where the plaintiff
experienced a particular injury or effect but whether the