United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Adrian Avendano-Bautista's
("Bautista") Motion for Joinder of Lubbock Electric
Corp. ("Lubbock"), who was previously dismissed by
the Court for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Docs. 29, 37.)
Lubbock filed a response in opposition to this motion. (Doc.
39.) Accordingly, Bautista's motion is fully briefed and
is ripe for review. For the reasons that follow,
Bautista's motion is GRANTED.
6, 2017, Bautista brought a claim against Lubbock and Kimbell
Gin Machinery Company ("KGM") after he was injured
while using the 2015 Kimbell Gin (the "Gin"). (Doc.
1.) On March 28, 2017, this Court granted Lubbock's
motion to dismiss after the Court found that Lubbock had not
subjected itself to the Court's jurisdiction simply
because it delivered the Gin to Collins Gin, Inc., a Georgia
customer. (Doc. 29.) Bautista then discovered a manual for
the Gin that included Lubbock's contact information and
an invitation for customers to contact Lubbock for technical
advice. (Doc. 37.) On August 15, 2011, Bautista
moved to have the Court join Lubbock as a party. Id.
initial matter, Bautista moves to add Lubbock under Rules 15
and 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Lubbock, on
the other hand, complains that Bautista is essentially asking
the Court to reconsider its earlier decision and therefore
must comply with Rule 60. However, a court may grant leave to
amend a previously dismissed claim. Czeremcha v.
Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers,
AFL-CIO, 724 F.2d 1552, 1556 (11th Cir. 1984). The
relief Bautista seeks is only restricted to Rules 59 or 60
after final judgment has been entered. Id. Since
final judgement has not been entered in this case, the Court
is guided by the principal that leave to amend should be
freely granted. See Fla. Evergreen Foliage v. E.I.
DuPonte De Nemours & Co., 470 F.3d 1036, 1041 (11th
Cir. 2006) (listing the limited circumstances where relief is
not appropriate) . Therefore, Bautista may pursue the relief
he seeks under Rules 15 and 20.
to the merits, Bautista argues that by placing Lubbock's
name in KGM's manual and delivering the Gin to a Georgia
customer, Lubbock subjected itself to the Court's
jurisdiction. A court may exercise jurisdiction over a
defendant when both the state long-arm statute and the
procedural due process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment are
satisfied. Sculptchair, Inc. v. Century Arts, Ltd.,
94 F.3d 623, 626 (11th Cir. 1996). Personal jurisdiction is
appropriate under the Due Process Clause if the defendant has
minimum contacts with the forum state and exercising
jurisdiction would not offend notions of fair play and
substantial justice. Sloss Indus. Corp. v. Eurisol,
488 F.3d 922, 925 (11th Cir. 2007). The heart of the test for
Procedural Due Process is whether the defendant's conduct
gives reasonable notice that it might be haled into a court
in the forum state. See Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc. v.
Food Movers Intern., Inc., 593 F.3d 1249, 1267 (11th
Cir. 2010) . Courts focus on whether the defendant has
purposefully availed itself to the privilege of doing
business in the forum state. Id.
an item in the stream of commerce is insufficient to find
purposeful availment. See Asahi Metal Industry Co. v.
Superior Court of California, 480 U.S. 102, 112 (1987).
However, purposeful availment may be demonstrated if the
defendant who placed the item into the stream of commerce
engaged in additional conduct, such as designing the product
for the forum state; advertising or marketing in that state;
or establishing channels for providing advice to that
state's residents. Id. This is the "stream
of commerce plus" test endorsed by a plurality in
Asahi. Vermeulen v. Renault U.S.A., Inc.,
985 F.2d 1534, 1548 (11th Cir. 1992). Since this is the
narrowest test endorsed by the Supreme Court, satisfying it
will demonstrate personal jurisdiction. See Morris v.
SSE, Inc., 843 F.2d 489, 493 n.5 (11th Cir. 1988).
case, Bautista argues that Lubbock's technical support
offer in KGM's manual has established a channel for
providing advice to Georgia customers. See Ray v.
Ford, 2008 WL 2756655, at *6 (M.D. Ala. July 11, 2008)
(finding personal jurisdiction based on the defendant's
involvement in the warranty process) . Lubbock responds that
it has not made an effort to contact Georgia customers so the
Court cannot find purposeful availment. The Court does not
view purposeful availment so narrowly as to require actual
contact. When Lubbock placed its number in KGM's manual,
Lubbock invited future contact with a Georgia customer.
Therefore, by delivering the Gin to a Georgia customer and
inviting that customer to engage in future contact, Lubbock
has subjected itself to a Georgia court's jurisdiction.
once a plaintiff has demonstrated the defendant's minimum
contacts, a court will consider other factors to ensure that
personal jurisdiction comports with fair play and substantial
justice. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S.
462, 476 (1985) . A fairness analysis considers factors
including the burden on either party, judicial efficiency,
and the forum state's interest in adjudicating the
dispute. Id. at 477. These considerations will
sometimes show the reasonableness of personal jurisdiction
upon a lesser showing of minimum contacts. Id. When
analyzing these factors, courts recognize that "modern
transportation and communication have made it much less
burdensome for a party sued to defend himself in a State
where he engages in economic activity." McGee v.
Int'l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223 (1957).
party has addressed this issue but the Court finds the
factors weigh in favor of exercising personal jurisdiction.
The burden on Lubbock of having to defend itself in Georgia
is alleviated by the technological advances mentioned in
McGee. See Oliver v. Merritt Dredging Co.,
Inc., 979 F.2d 827, 834 (11th Cir. 1992) (requiring a
Louisiana and South Carolina company to adjudicate in Alabama
would not impose a substantial burden). On the other hand,
forcing Bautista to litigate his claim in two forums would
"hamper his ability to obtain quick, convenient, and
effective relief." Id.; see also Marbury v.
Am. Truetzschler, 111 F.Supp.2d 1281, 1287 (N.D. Ala.
2000). This piecemeal litigation could also lead to
inconsistent outcomes and waste judicial resources. See
Oliver, 979 F.2d at 834. Finally, Georgia has a strong
interest in protecting its residents from unsafe products
that come into the market. Vermeulen, 985 F.2d at
1551. Thus, exercising personal jurisdiction over Lubbock
comports with traditional notions of fairness.
upon consideration, Bautista's motion for Joinder is
hereby GRANTED. Bautista shall file an
amended complaint naming Lubbock as defendant within fourteen
(14) days hereof in conformity with this Order.