United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief Judge.
Services, Inc. (“Diving Services”) entered into a
contract with BTM Machinery, Inc. (“BTM”) and has
brought suit against BTM (as well as BTM's business
partner, Crane U, Inc.) for several causes of action related
to that contractual relationship. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) BTM
has moved to dismiss the lawsuit. (Def.'s Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 11.) For the reasons set forth below, the
Motion to Dismiss is DENIED, and the case is transferred to
the United States District Court for the District of South
Facts of the Case
a South Carolina company that provides large machinery and
related services to the global construction industry. Diving
Services is a Rhode Island company that entered into a
contract with BTM for the purchase of a construction crane.
(See Pl.'s Opp'n Mem. Ex. A, ECF No. 12-1.). Under
the terms of the contract, BTM agreed to make various repairs
to the crane in exchange for Diving Services' payment of
a $5, 000 deposit. (Id.) Diving Services would then
“inspect” those repairs and pay the remaining
$80, 000 balance before taking possession of the crane.
(Id.) While neither party has offered evidence
regarding the inspection process, both parties agree that
Diving Services paid for, and took possession of the crane in
South Carolina before transporting the crane to Pennsylvania.
(Complaint ¶ 24, ECF No. 1; Pl.'s Opp'n. Mem. 3,
ECF No. 12; Def.'s Reply 5, ECF No. 13.) Diving Services
now alleges that the crane provided by BTM was not
operational and has brought suit for various claims related
to that transaction.
moved to dismiss Diving Services' claim based on three
grounds. First, BTM argues that this Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over BTM because BTM “has almost no
purposeful contacts with [Rhode Island].” (Def.'s
Mot. to Dismiss 2, ECF No. 11-1.) Second, BTM argues that the
contract between BTM and Diving Services has a valid forum
selection clause that requires this claim to be litigated in
South Carolina. (Id.) Third, BTM argues that Rhode
Island is not the proper venue because “the alleged
events giving rise to Diving Services' claim did not
occur in Rhode Island.” (Id.) The Court first
addresses the issue of personal jurisdiction.
this Court to have personal jurisdiction over BTM, Diving
Services must show that (1) the Rhode Island long-arm statute
grants jurisdiction over the claim; and (2) exercising
jurisdiction does not violate the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. Daynard v. Ness, et al., 290
F.3d 42, 53 (1st Cir. 2002). Rhode Island's long-arm
statute “extends up to the constitutional
limitation.” Am. Sail Training Ass'n v.
Litchfield, 705 F.Supp. 75, 78 (D.R.I. 1989) (quoting
Conn. v. ITT Aetna Finance Co., 252 A.2d 184, 186
(R.I. 1969)). Therefore, this Court need only focus on the
limitations of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
the Due Process Clause, Diving Services has the burden of
showing that BTM has had certain “minimum
contacts” with Rhode Island such that this Court's
hearing of the case would not offend
“‘traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.'” Phillips v. Prairie Eye
Ctr., 530 F.3d 22, 26, 27 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting
Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319
(1945)). While Plaintiff can meet this standard by
demonstrating either general or specific jurisdiction,
Harlow v. Children's Hosp., 432 F.3d 50, 57 (1st
Cir. 2005) (comparing general and specific jurisdiction),
Diving Services argues only for specific jurisdiction.
(Pl.'s Opp'n. Mem. 5, ECF No. 12.) For claims of
specific jurisdiction, the Court employs a three-pronged
analysis that requires a showing of “relatedness,
purposeful availment, and reasonableness”:
First, the claim underlying the litigation must directly
arise out of, or relate to, the defendant's
forum-state activities. Second, the defendant's instate
contacts must represent a purposeful availment of
the privilege of conducting activities in the forum state,
thereby invoking the benefits and protections of that
state's laws and making the defendant's involuntary
presence before the state's courts foreseeable. Third,
the exercise of jurisdiction must, in light of the Gestalt
factors, be reasonable.
Adelson v. Hananel, 510 F.3d 43, 49 (1st Cir. 2007)
(emphasis added). Plaintiff has the burden of establishing
all three prongs. Id. at 48.
case, BTM concedes that selling a crane to a Rhode Island
company satisfies the “relatedness” prong.
(Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 4, ECF No. 11-1.) Therefore, the
question is whether Diving Services has provided sufficient
evidence for the “purposeful availment” and
“reasonableness” prongs. Diving Services'
evidence on this issue is reviewed using the prima facie
Under [this] standard, the inquiry is whether the plaintiff
has proffered evidence which, if credited, is sufficient to
support findings of all facts essential to personal
jurisdiction. In order to make a prima facie showing of
jurisdiction, the plaintiff ordinarily cannot rest upon the
pleadings but is obliged to adduce evidence of specific
facts. The court must accept the plaintiff's (properly
documented) evidentiary proffers as true for the purpose of
determining the adequacy of the prima facie jurisdictional
showing, and construe them in the light most congenial to the
plaintiff's jurisdictional claim.
Phillips, 530 F.3d at 26 (internal citations and