United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
TYHEE HICKMAN and SHANAY BOLDEN, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
TL TRANSPORTATION, LLC, SCOTT FOREMAN, HERSCHEL LOWE, AMAZON.COM, LLC, and AMAZON LOGISTICS, INC., Defendants.
Austin McHugh United States District Judge
a putative class action involving wage and hour claims
asserted against a Maryland corporation and its individual
corporate officers, both of whom reside in Maryland.
Plaintiffs are employees who worked for Defendants as
delivery associates in Pennsylvania [hereinafter the
“Pennsylvania Plaintiffs”] and Maryland
[hereinafter the “Maryland Plaintiffs”].
Plaintiffs filed this action in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania, which raises the question of whether
Pennsylvania courts may assert personal jurisdiction over
corporate officers who reside in Maryland. Those defendants
have filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter
Jurisdiction, arguing that their contacts with Pennsylvania
are not related to Plaintiffs' claims arising under the
Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour laws. As to
the Pennsylvania Plaintiffs, I disagree, and find both
individual defendants' business-related contacts with
this forum related to Plaintiffs' wage and hour claims,
and their respective contacts sufficient to justify personal
jurisdiction. The Maryland Plaintiffs' claim under their
state's wage and hour laws will be dismissed, however,
because Plaintiffs have not shown these claims to be related
to Foreman and Lowe's contacts with Pennsylvania.
Tyhee Hickman worked as a delivery associate for Defendant TL
Transportation [hereinafter “TLT”] in
Pennsylvania from November 2016 through March 2017, and
Plaintiff Shanay Bolden worked for TLT in Maryland from
January 2016 through July 2016. TLT is a delivery service
provider that operates under a contract with Defendant Amazon
Logistics, Inc. In their work for TLT, Plaintiffs drove
delivery trucks, and delivered packages from Amazon
warehouses to its customers. Plaintiffs allege that they
received payment for their work based on a “day rate,
” and argue that this compensation did not include
overtime payment as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act
[hereinafter “FLSA”], and applicable state wage
and hour laws. Defendant TLT is run by two individuals,
Defendants Herschell Lowe and Scott Foreman. Foreman has been
an owner and Vice President of TLT since spring 2015, and
Lowe has served as President over the same period. Foreman
and Lowe began their work for TLT by expanding the
company's business within Maryland, Virginia, and New
Jersey, and they later secured an agreement with Amazon to
provide delivery services in Pennsylvania. They began doing
business at their first Pennsylvania location in summer 2016,
operating out of an Amazon warehouse in King of Prussia.
TLT opened its King of Prussia operation, it already had a
companywide pay policy in place. Plaintiffs allege that the
payroll policy, which dated to July 2015, provided for a
per-day rate of payment to delivery associates for each day
that an associate worked, with the Maryland employees
receiving a rate of $160 per day, and the Pennsylvania
employees receiving $152 per day, regardless of the number of
hours worked in a day. See Am. Compl. ¶ 58, ECF
No. 34. Foreman reports that he and Lowe made all business
decisions, including payroll, human resources, and management
decisions, in Maryland.
connection with TLT's expansion, Foreman took regular
trips to Pennsylvania, visiting each of the Pennsylvania
facilities TLT opened. During these trips, he met with Amazon
officials, TLT's managers, and held safety meetings.
Foreman stated in his deposition: “I have site managers
and a regional manager. So I'm just coming up to meet
with them.” Foreman Dep. 49:4-14, ECF No. 44-4.
Lowe also traveled to Pennsylvania in connection with his
work for TLT, though less regularly than Foreman. He visited
TLT's King of Prussia site on one occasion to observe a
prospective safety consultant demonstrate a training session
for TLT's delivery associates. On a separate occasion he
conducted several interviews with prospective hires during a
job fair held at a DoubleTree Hotel in Philadelphia, although
the interviews were for positions as drivers at TLT's
Swedesboro, New Jersey location.
their business-related contacts with this forum, Defendants
Foreman and Lowe contend that their work-related contacts
with Pennsylvania were not sufficiently related to
Plaintiffs' wage and hour claims to allow a court in
Pennsylvania to assert personal jurisdiction over them.
Defendants also argue that, because the Maryland Plaintiffs
had no contact with Pennsylvania in connection with their
work for TLT, Foreman and Lowe's contacts with
Pennsylvania were not related to the Maryland Plaintiffs'
wage and hour claims.
resolving a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing personal jurisdiction. Metcalfe v.
Renaissance Marine, Inc., 566 F.3d 324, 330 (3d Cir.
2009). Because I have not held an evidentiary hearing,
Plaintiffs need only establish a prima facie case for
personal jurisdiction. Id. (citing O'Connor
v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir.
2007)); Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d
93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004). To meet this burden, Plaintiffs must
demonstrate “with reasonable particularity sufficient
contacts between the defendant and the forum state.”
See Mellon Bank (E.) PSFS, Nat'l Ass'n v.
Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting
Provident Nat'l Bank v. California Fed. Sav. &
Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 437 (3d Cir. 1987)).
Plaintiffs are entitled to have their allegations presumed
true, with all factual disputes construed in their favor.
See Miller Yacht, 384 F.3d at 97.
Federal Rule 4(e), a federal court may “assert personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident of the state in which the
court sits to the extent authorized by the law of that
state.” Provident Nat'l Bank, 819 F.2d at
436. Pennsylvania's long-arm statute provides that the
jurisdiction of state tribunals reaches “to the full
extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States
and may be based on the most minimum contact with
[Pennsylvania] allowed under the Constitution of the United
States.” 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5322(b). Thus, the
question here is whether personal jurisdiction may be
asserted without violation of the Defendants' due process
rights, which protect “an individual's liberty
interest in not being subject to the binding judgments of a
forum with which he has established no meaningful
‘contacts, ties, or relations.'” Burger
King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985)
(quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of
Unemp't Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 319
Third Circuit has summarized the inquiry, specific personal
jurisdiction exists if a court finds that (1) the defendants
purposefully directed their activities at the forum; (2) the
litigation arose out of or is related to one or more of these
activities; and (3) jurisdiction comports with fair play and
substantial justice. O'Connor, 496 F.3d at 317
(citing Burger King Corp., 471 U.S. at 472;
Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall,
466 U.S. 408, 414 (1984)). While a court must separately
analyze personal jurisdiction for each claim, Remick v.
Manfredy, 238 F.3d 248, 255 (3d Cir. 2001), in this case
Plaintiffs' state and federal wage and hour claims, as
well as claims for unjust enrichment, are similar in
structure and arise from the same factual contentions, and
are therefore subject to the same personal jurisdiction
analysis. The claims of the Pennsylvania and Maryland
Plaintiffs must be analyzed separately, however, because each
involves distinct facts.
Personal Jurisdiction over Pennsylvania Plaintiffs'
Foreman and Lowe assert that jurisdiction is not proper
because Plaintiffs' claims do not arise from or relate to
either individual's contacts with Pennsylvania, largely
relying on the theory that Plaintiffs' FLSA and
Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA) claims concern
managerial decisions that Foreman and Lowe made in Maryland.
Defs.' Br. 10- 11, ECF No. 35-1. I find this argument
without merit. Both Foreman and Lowe's contacts with
Pennsylvania involved their employees' working