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Kenny v. Prisoner Transport Services, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 16, 2019

SEAN PAUL KENNY, Plaintiff,
v.
PRISONER TRANSPORT SERVICES, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

         Presently before me is a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11) filed by Defendants Prisoner Transport Services, LLC (“PTS”); PTS of America, LLC (“PTS America”); and Extradition Agent Button (collectively, “Defendants”). Defendants seek dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. (See Doc. 12 at 6). Plaintiff Sean Kenny argues this Court has specific personal jurisdiction over Defendants and thus their Motion should be denied. (See Doc. 15 at 6). Kenny alternatively argues that if personal jurisdiction is lacking, the case should be transferred to the Middle District of Tennessee, where PTS and PTS America are headquartered. (Id. at 13). Because this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be granted; however, the case will instead be transferred to the District of Arizona.

         I. Background

         The facts from Kenny's Complaint (Doc. 1), taken as true and viewed in light most favorable to him, are as follows:

         Kenny resides in Ambler, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 1). PTS is a Tennessee limited liability corporation (LLC) with a principal place of business in Whites Creek, Tennessee. (Id. ¶ 2). PTS America is also a Tennessee LLC with a principal place of business in Whites Creek, Tennessee. (Id. ¶ 3). Finally, Button, an employee of PTS and PTS America, is domiciled in Tennessee. (Id. ¶ 4).

         On March 26, 2017 Kenny was housed at the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, awaiting his extradition to Monroe County, Florida. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 10). Button escorted Kenny into a transport van and instructed him to, among other things, not ask to use the bathroom or for food. (Id. ¶ 11). The van was “dirty, covered in trash and smelled of body odor.” (Id. ¶ 14). While en route, the van stopped at a different jail in Arizona to pick up another prisoner. (Id. ¶ 16). While there, Kenny spoke to a corrections officer at the jail about the conditions on the van. (Id. ¶ 17). Upon hearing the conversation, Button pulled Kenny aside, placed Kenny's hands behind his back, and “cuffed both wrists very tightly and in an awkward fashion.” (Id. ¶ 18). Button also moved Kenny into a “segregation cage” in the van, where he was held for six hours until he apologized. (Id.).

         The van then stopped in New Mexico to pick up another prisoner. (Id. ¶ 19). Kenny asked Button about the “cramped conditions” on the van, as it was now carrying ten passengers. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 20). In response, Button removed Kenny from the van, “slammed him shoulder first into a brick wall, ” and uncomfortably handcuffed him. (Id. ¶ 20). During the ride, Kenny was “threatened, verbally abused, harassed, denied food, denied restroom breaks, and denied medical attention.” (Id. ¶ 23). Other passengers on the van similarly suffered. (Id. ¶ 24). Kenny's “transport on the van eventually ended at Shawnee County Department of Corrections in Topeka, Kansas, on March 29, 2017.” (Id. ¶ 22).

         Kenny filed his Complaint on March 7, 2019, alleging federal and state law causes of action for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Button, acting in his capacity as an employee of PTS and PTS America. Defendants subsequently filed this Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11), arguing that if what Kenny alleges is true, this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants for all claims alleged in the Complaint (see Doc. 12). The Motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for review.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides for dismissal of an action where the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendants. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). In deciding whether personal jurisdiction is lacking, accept Kenny's jurisdictional allegations as true, because Defendants are mounting a facial rather than factual attack. See MobileMedia Ideas, LLC v. Apple Inc., 885 F.Supp.2d 700, 705-06 (D. Del. 2012).

         Federal district courts are permitted to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident to the extent allowed under the laws of the state where the district court sits. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e); Pennzoil Prods. Co. v. Colelli & Assocs., Inc., 149 F.3d 197, 200 (3d Cir. 1998). Pennsylvania's long-arm statute permits personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants “to the constitutional limits of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5322; see Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, Nat'l Ass'n v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1221 (3d Cir. 1992).

         Personal jurisdiction comes in two forms: general and specific. See Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011). General jurisdiction allows a court to “hear any and all claims against [parties] when their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.” Id. (citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 317 (1945)). On the other hand, specific jurisdiction depends on a defendant's “minimum contacts” with a forum state which led to the plaintiff's causes of action-not the defendant's overall vulnerability to suit in a forum. See id.; Int'l Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 316. A plaintiff's causes of action must “arise out of or relate to” the defendants' minimum contacts for specific jurisdiction to exist. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472-73 (1985) (quotation omitted).

         III. Discussion

         Kenny acknowledges that the Court lacks general jurisdiction over Defendants. (See Doc. 15 at 6). I will therefore only address whether the ...


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