United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Darnell Jones, II J.
World Monuments Fund, Inc. is a non-profit New York
corporation that has its principal place of business in New
York City. Defendants Lisa Ackerman and Joshua David are the
Executive Vice President and President of WMF, respectively.
Ackerman recruited and hired Plaintiff, a citizen and then
resident of the United Kingdom, to work in WMF's New York
office. Plaintiff moved to Pennsylvania for the position and
commuted to WMF's New York office daily. Defendant WMF
terminated Plaintiff's employment after only one year,
allegedly in contravention of the guaranteed term of
employment promised in Plaintiff's employment contract.
As a result thereof, Plaintiff commenced the instant action
alleging violations of state labor laws, breach of contract,
and fraud. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2), Defendants moved to dismiss each count of the
Amended Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the
reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion is
GRANTED, and this case is
support of their Motion, Defendants present affidavits
attesting to their limited contacts with Pennsylvania.
(Declaration of Joshua David, March 22, 2017; Declaration of
Lisa Ackerman, March 23, 2017.) Plaintiff submits an
affidavit in opposition to Defendants' Motion, but does
not challenge the veracity of the statements Defendants
proffer. (Declaration of Benjamin Jeffs, May 19, 2017.) As
such, the Court deems the jurisdictional facts in this case
Benjamin Jeffs is a citizen and former resident of the United
Kingdom currently residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) Defendant World Monuments Fund, Inc.
(“WMF”) is a non-profit New York corporation with
its principal place of business in New York City. (Am. Compl.
¶ 2.) At all times material, both Defendant David, the
President of WMF, and Defendant Ackerman, the Executive Vice
President of WMF, worked and resided in New York. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 2, 4; David Decl. ¶¶ 2, 3; Ackerman
Decl. ¶¶ 2, 3.)
several Skype and telephonic conversations from October of
2014 through March of 2015, Plaintiff and Defendant Ackerman
negotiated the terms of a potential full-time position at
Defendant WMF. (Jeffs Decl. ¶ 1.) All throughout this
negotiation period, Plaintiff resided in the United Kingdom
and Defendant Ackerman was based out of Defendant WMF's
office in New York. (Ackerman Decl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff
requested that the position guarantee an initial three-year
term of employment, as recompense for the expense and effort
of relocating from the United Kingdom to the United States.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) Negotiations continued and in March
of 2015, Plaintiff received an official offer of employment
from Defendant WMF, addressed to Plaintiff's residence in
the United Kingdom. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10; Employment Offer
Letter, March 1, 2015, 1.) The offer stated that the position
would be based out of New York and required that Plaintiff be
present in WMF's New York office Monday through Friday of
each work week. (Offer Letter, 1.)
Plaintiff's earlier request, the offer included a
two-year initial term of employment, not three. (Am. Compl.
¶ 14.) Plaintiff contacted Defendant Ackerman about the
discrepancy, and Defendant Ackerman responded that she
thought the proffered term was two and one half years, and if
not, she would send a “definitive employment
letter” reflecting the correct term. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 15-16.) Allegedly relying on this
representation, Plaintiff accepted the position at Defendant
WMF, moved to Philadelphia, and began working out of
Defendant WMF's New York office on June 1, 2015. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 6, 18, 21.) A year later, Defendant David
informed Plaintiff that his employment with Defendant WMF was
terminated. (David Decl. ¶ 8.) An official letter to
that effect was mailed to Plaintiff's Philadelphia
residence. (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.)
resided in Pennsylvania throughout the entire course of his
employment. (Am. Compl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff was occasionally
allowed to work from home, and on about six occasions,
Plaintiff conducted meetings in Pennsylvania on Defendant
WMF's behalf. (Am. Compl. ¶ 6; Jeffs Decl.
¶¶ 6-10.) On balance, Plaintiff spent 190 days-74%
of his employment-working in New York and the equivalent of
20 full time days-8% of his employment-working from home in
Pennsylvania. (Ackerman Decl. ¶¶ 17, 19-20.)
the course of Plaintiff's employment, Defendant WMF had
one active project in Pennsylvania-the New Hope project-out
of seventy total active projects worldwide. (Ackerman Decl.
¶¶ 25, 29.) Defendant Ackerman traveled to
Pennsylvania twice in 2015 on WMF business, not at all in
2016, and communicated with faculty at the University of
Pennsylvania a few times each year to maintain personal
contacts therewith. (Ackerman Decl. ¶¶ 30-32.)
Defendant David has not traveled to Pennsylvania since his
employment with WMF began in 2015. (David Decl. ¶ 5.)
on all of the foregoing, Defendants timely filed a Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for Lack of Personal
Jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2). Upon consideration of said Motion, Plaintiff's
Response in opposition thereto, Defendants' Reply, and
the record before us, this Court finds the exercise of
personal jurisdiction improper here. Defendants' Motion
is granted, and Plaintiff's case is dismissed.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a defendant may
move to dismiss a claim for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Once a defendant has raised this jurisdictional defense, the
burden shifts to the plaintiff to present a prima facie case
establishing jurisdiction over the non-resident defendant in
the forum. Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d
361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002); see also Miller Yacht Sales,
Inc., v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004)
(“[W]hen the court does not hold an evidentiary hearing
on the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff need only establish a
prima facie case of personal jurisdiction.”). A
plaintiff has the burden to show, “with reasonable
particularity, ” enough contact between the defendant
and the forum to support the exercise of personal
jurisdiction by the forum state. Mellon Bank v.
Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992) (internal
citations omitted); see also Action Mfg. Co. v. Simon
Wrecking Co., 375 F.Supp.2d 411, 418 (E.D. Pa. 2005)
(“In order to establish a prima facie case,
the plaintiff must present specific facts that would allow
the court to exercise jurisdiction over the
defendant.”) (emphasis in original).
determining the existence of personal jurisdiction, courts
“must accept all of the plaintiff's allegations as
true and construe disputed facts in favor of the
plaintiff.” Pinker, 292 F.3d at 368.
Once the plaintiff's “allegations are contradicted
by an opposing affidavit . . . [he or she] must present
similar evidence in support of personal jurisdiction.”
In re Chocolate Confectionary Antitrust Litig., 602
F.Supp.2d 538, 556 (M.D. Pa. 2009). To counter opposing
affidavits, “[p]laintiffs may not repose upon their
pleadings in this manner. Rather, they must counter
defendant['s] affidavits with contrary evidence in
support of purposeful availment jurisdiction.”
Id. at 559. To that end, “[t]he plaintiff must
respond to the defendant's motion with ‘actual
proofs'; ‘affidavits which parrot and do no more
than restate [the] plaintiff's allegations . . . do not
end the inquiry.'” Lionti v. Dipna, Inc.,
Civ. No. 17-1678, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98956, at *3-4 (E.D.
Pa. June 27, 2017) (quoting Time Share Vacation Club v.
Atl. Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 66, n.9 (3d Cir. 1984);
see also Lehigh Gas Wholesale, LLC v. LAP Petro.,
LLC, Civ. No. 14-5536, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36569, at
*5 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 23, 2015) (“Plaintiff ...