United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
D. LAND CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Ransom, who is proceeding pro se, sued his former employer
and the employer's son and daughter for defamation in
this federal court sitting in the State of Georgia. All
Defendants are residents of Alabama. Before the Court is
Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. For the following reasons, that motion (ECF No.
7) is granted.
the context of a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction in which no evidentiary hearing is held, the
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case
of jurisdiction over the movant, non-resident
defendant.” Morris v. SSE, Inc., 843 F.2d 489,
492 (11th Cir. 1988). “A prima facie case is
established if the plaintiff presents sufficient evidence to
defeat a motion for a directed verdict. The district court
must construe the allegations in the complaint as true, to
the extent they are uncontroverted by defendant's
affidavits or deposition testimony.” Id. Here,
there was no evidentiary hearing, and Defendants provided no
jurisdictional evidence. Therefore, the Court construes
Ransom's allegations as true and considers whether they
allege a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction.
alleges that Defendants Brian, Audrey, and Matt Cail reside
in Lee County, Alabama. Ransom worked for Brian at B&J
Trucking, a business located in Salem, Alabama. At some
point, Audrey told Brian that Ransom gave Matt drugs, and
Brian fired Ransom without investigating whether this
statement was true. Brian then spread false statements about
Ransom to other employers in Alabama and Georgia, which hurt
Ransom's ability to get another job.
determine whether Defendants are subject to the Court's
personal jurisdiction, the Court examines whether
Ransom's factual allegations support personal
jurisdiction under Georgia's long-arm statute, and if
they do, whether exercising jurisdiction would nevertheless
violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to
the United States Constitution. Diamond Crystal Brands v.
Food Movers Int'l, 593 F.3d 1249, 1257-58 (11th Cir.
2010). “When a federal court uses a state long-arm
statute, because the extent of the statute is governed by
state law, the federal court is required to construe it as
would the state's supreme court.” Id. at
1258 (quoting Lockard v. Equifax, Inc., 163 F.3d
1259, 1265 (11th Cir. 1998)).
undisputed that Defendants are residents of Alabama, and
Ransom does not allege that they transacted business in
Georgia. The only possible basis for personal jurisdiction is
Defendants' alleged publication of defamatory information
to persons in Georgia. Georgia's long-arm statute
provides personal jurisdiction over “any nonresident .
. . as to a cause of action arising from any of the acts . .
. enumerated in this Code section” if the nonresident
“[c]ommits a tortious act or omission within this
state, except as to a cause of action for defamation of
character arising from the act.” O.C.G.A. §
9-10-91(2) (emphasis added). The statute “is clear,
unequivocal and unambiguous in mandating the exclusion of an
action predicated on defamation.” Worthy v.
Eller, 594 S.E.2d 699, 700 (Ga.Ct.App. 2004) (quoting
Balmer v. Elan Corp., 583 S.E.2d 131, 134
(Ga.Ct.App. 2003)). Here, Ransom alleged that Brian Cail
defamed him. The publication of defamatory information in
Georgia standing alone is insufficient to establish personal
jurisdiction under Georgia's long-arm statute.
response to Defendants' motion to dismiss, Ransom makes
two additional allegations: (1) that Brian Cail “goes
to [Ransom's] workplace to cause conflict . . . with
damaging statements” and (2) that Brian Cail sent a
“child support letter” to the Division of Family
and Child Services in another effort to harm Ransom's
reputation. Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss
1-2, ECF No. 8. These allegations simply provide
more specific information supporting Ransom's defamation
claim. The Georgia legislature has determined that the
commission of acts solely related and giving rise to a
defamation claim do not fall within the Georgia long-arm
statute. Ransom did not allege that Defendants committed any
other acts in Georgia as required by the long-arm statute.
See, e.g., Anderson v. Deas, 615 S.E.2d
859, 862 (Ga.Ct.App. 2005) (“[A]n out-of-state
defendant must do certain acts within the State of Georgia
before he can be subjected to personal jurisdiction.”)
(quoting Gust v. Flint, 356 S.E.2d 513, 514 (Ga.
1987)). His factual allegations thus do not support the
exercise of personal jurisdiction over Defendants under the
long-arm statute. Therefore, it is unnecessary for the Court