United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
MALLIE J. SECKINGER, Plaintiff,
I.C. SYSTEM, INC., and JOHN ERICSON IV, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHRISTOPHER L RAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
breach of contract claim, pro se plaintiff Mallie
Seckinger contends that he “formally and
unequivocally” accepted defendant I.C. System,
Inc.'s “offer, ” made through a collections
notice letter dated July 15, 2017, to “work out a
payment arrangement which would include low monthly
payments” to collect a debt. Doc. 1 (Complaint) at 6.
I.C. System, however, informed Seckinger by letter on
September 22, 2017, that it would no longer pursue his debt
and had returned the debt to I.C. System's client (the
original debtholder). Id. at 5. Plaintiff contends
that the “breach” of the contract he agreed to
with I.C. System somehow entitles him to nearly $3 million
that he “would have been receiving over time” had
defendants abided the contract. Id. at 5.
John Erickson is sued in his personal capacity, apparently
because of his role as a corporate officer. Doc. 1 at 3 &
6 (explaining that Erickson is “CEO” of I.C.
System and thus “had governance over the actions of
I.C. System[ ] as a whole and its employees as individuals
and their actions at all times relevant” to the
Complaint). His actual role in the alleged breach, however,
is left to the Court's - and defendant's -
imagination. See doc. 1. Erickson thus moves to
dismiss the claims against him for lack of personal
jurisdiction, arguing that plaintiff has not shown that he
personally availed himself of this forum. Doc. 13 at 4,
quoting, inter alia, Joyner v. MERS, 451
Fed.Appx. 505, 506 (6th Cir. 2011) (“Jurisdiction over
an officer of a corporation may not be based on jurisdiction
over the corporation; the officer must have purposefully
availed himself of the forum.”).
federal court sitting in diversity undertakes a two-step
inquiry in determining whether personal jurisdiction exists:
the exercise of jurisdiction must (1) be appropriate under
the state long-arm statute and (2) not violate the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United
States Constitution.” United Techs. Corp. v.
Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009).
Georgia's long-arm statute, O.C.G.A. § 9-10- 91, and
Georgia's courts recognize a sharp distinction between
the personal actions of a corporate officer and actions
undertaken in their official capacity for purposes of
determining whether a court may assert personal jurisdiction
over that officer. An individual who does not have sufficient
minimum contacts with Georgia under International Shoe v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945), and its progeny is
not subject to personal jurisdiction in Georgia for actions
taken within the state solely in his or her capacity as a
corporate officer. Club Car, Inc. v. Club Car (Quebec)
Import, Inc., 276 F.Supp.2d 1276, 1292-93 (S.D. Ga.
Georgia courts broadly interpret the first prong - a
purposeful act or consummation of a transaction in Georgia -
one such act must exist and it “must give rise
or have some connection to the cause of action.”
Packard v. Temenos Advisory, Inc., 159 F.Supp.3d
1344, 1357 (S.D. Ga. 2016). The mere presence of a personal
guaranty is not enough. Club Car, 276 F.Supp.2d at
1293, citing Southern Electronics Distributors, Inc. v.
Anderson, 232 Ga.App. 648 (1998); see also, Apparel
Resources International, Ltd. v. Amersig Southeast,
Inc., 215 Ga .App. 483 (1994) (refusing to exercise
personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendant whose only
contacts with Georgia were her business dealings as corporate
officer and personal guaranty she signed). To assert personal
jurisdiction over an individual whose dealings in Georgia
have primarily been in his capacity as a corporate officer,
the individual must have independent minimum contacts with
the forum state that meet the due process standards
established by International Shoe.
of course, has not even hinted at a single contact
between Erickson and this forum, much less affirmatively
connected such an act or transaction to the harms alleged in
his Complaint. See doc. 1. All he says is that
Erickson is a corporate officer and thus responsible for the
ills that befell him. That is simply not enough to haul
Erickson into this Court. Defendant Erickson's motion to
dismiss (doc. 13), which is unopposed, should be
GRANTED. See S.D. Ga. L. R. 7.5
(“Failure to respond within the applicable time period
shall indicate that there is no opposition to a
Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to the
district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's Local Rule 72.3.
Within 14 days of service, any party may file written
objections to this R&R with the Court and serve a copy on
all parties. The document should be captioned
“Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendations.” Any request for additional time to
file objections should be filed with the Clerk for
consideration by the assigned district judge.
the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district
judge. The district judge will review the magistrate
judge's findings and recommendations pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that
failure to timely file objections will result in the waiver
of rights on appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v.
V.A. Leasing Corp., 648 Fed.Appx. 787, 790 (11th Cir.
2016); Mitchell v. United States, 612 Fed.Appx. 542,
545 (11th Cir. 2015).