United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VÁZQUEZ United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction [Doc. 4]. The
Court, having considered the motion and relevant law, finds
that the motion is well-taken and will be granted.
relevant facts, as alleged in the Complaint and demonstrated
by the parties' affidavits, are as follows. On May 6,
2018, Kolby Burton, who lives in Mississippi, was injured in
an automobile accident in Loving, New Mexico. Doc. 4-1, Ex.
A. He was airlifted to University Medical Center in El Paso,
Texas. Id. While he was in El Paso, on May 16, 2018,
Mr. Burton signed a contract retaining B.J. Crow and the Crow
Law Firm to represent him in connection with the accident.
Id. Mr. Burton returned to Mississippi on May 17,
12, 2018, Mr. Burton met with Oby T. Rogers in Mississippi.
Id. During the meeting, Mr. Burton did not mention
Mr. Crow. Id., Ex. A. On June 15, 2018, Mr. Burton
again met with Mr. Rogers, and decided to retain him in
connection with his New Mexico accident. Id. During
that meeting, Mr. Burton asked Mr. Rogers, “What do I
do with the other lawyer?” Id. Mr. Rogers
responded, “What are you talking about?”
Id. Mr. Burton then disclosed that he had previously
retained Mr. Crow to represent him in connection with the
accident, but indicated that he wanted to “fire
Crow.” Id. Mr. Rogers responded that if Mr.
Burton “wanted to fire Crow then he needed to write it
out and sign it and then he could continue talking to [Mr.
Rogers]. Id. At that point, Mr. Burton “wrote
a note out firing Crow, handed [it] to [Mr.] Rogers, and
signed” a contract retaining Mr. Rogers and Oby T.
Rogers, PPLC (the “Rogers Law Firm”).
on June 20, 2018, Mr. Rogers sent Mr. Crow an email message
stating that Mr. Burton had terminated Mr. Crow's
services. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 18. The email message attached a
handwritten note from Mr. Burton stating, “Thanks BJ
for your help but I have decided to use Oby Rogers on my
case.” Id. at ¶ 19. The email message
also indicated that Mr. Burton “would prefer that [Mr.
Crow] not attempt to contact [him] regarding [his] decision
to terminate [Mr. Crow].” Id. at 21.
June 20, 2018, Mr. Rogers sent a letter to Agava
Transportation Services (“Agava”) in Carlsbad,
New Mexico, regarding Mr. Burton's accident, indicating
that the Rogers Law Firm was representing Mr. Burton and
directing that Agava preserve the evidence related to the
accident. Doc. 11-3. The letter also stated: “[I]t is
my understanding that you have previously been contacted by
B.J. Crow, Esq. in regards to this matter. Mr Crow's
representation of Mr. Burton has been terminated as of June
15, 2018.” Id. Ryan Sanders, an attorney at
Butt Thornton & Baehr in Albuquerque, New Mexico,
forwarded the letter to Mr. Crow on June 20, 2018, asking
whether he was still representing Mr. Burton. Doc. 11-2. Mr.
Crow responded, “It doesn't appear so, has Mr. Oby
Rogers been in contact with you?” Id. Mr.
Sanders responded, “He has been in contact with
on these facts, Plaintiff, the Crow Law Firm, commenced the
instant action in New Mexico State Court against Mr. Rogers
and the Rogers Law Firm. Doc. 1-1. The Complaint alleges
claims of tortious interference with contract, negligence,
and prima facie tort. Id. On August 22, 2018,
Defendants removed the action to this Court. Doc. 1.
their instant motion, Defendants seek dismissal of the action
on the basis that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over
them. Doc. 4. Plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing that
Defendants “have purposeful and significant contacts
with the State of New Mexico, warranting the exercise of
personal jurisdiction over them.” Doc. 11.
support of their motion, Defendants submitted the affidavit
of Mr. Rogers. Doc. 4-1, Ex. B. Mr. Rogers' affidavit
states that: he resides in and is licensed to practice law in
Mississippi; he is not licensed to practice law in, has never
been admitted pro hac vice in, and, until his
representation of Mr. Burton, has never participated in any
litigation in New Mexico; neither he nor the Rogers Law Firm
has ever advertised in New Mexico or filed any taxes in New
Mexico; and, prior to being retained by Mr. Burton, had never
been to New Mexico for business, only to ski. Id. In
support of his opposition, Plaintiff submitted a July 27,
2018 Facebook post of Mr. Rogers and the Rogers Law Firm, in
which Mr. Rogers states that he “spent the week in New
Mexico” working on Mr. Burton's case. Doc. 11-4.
the court's jurisdiction is contested, the plaintiff has
the burden of proving jurisdiction exists.” Wenz v.
Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir. 1995).
Where, as here, “there has been no evidentiary hearing,
and the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is decided
on the basis of affidavits and other written material, the
plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing that
jurisdiction exists.” Id. “The
allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the
extent they are uncontroverted by the defendants'
affidavits.” Id. Further, “[i]f the
parties present conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes
must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor, and the
plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient
notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving
party.” Id. Importantly, however, “only
the well pled facts of plaintiff's complaint, as
distinguished form mere conclusory allegations, must be
accepted as true.” Id. The court's
“task is to determine whether the plaintiff's
allegations, as supported by affidavits, make a prima facie
showing of personal jurisdiction.” Id.
courts ordinarily follow state law in determining the bounds
of their jurisdiction over persons.” Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 125 (2014). Here, New Mexico's
long-arm statute “extends the jurisdictional reach of
New Mexico courts as far as constitutionally
permissible.” Tercero v. Roman Catholic
Diocese, 48 P.3d 50, 54 (N.M. 2002). Thus, in order to
determine whether this court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over Defendants, the relevant inquiry is whether
that exercise of jurisdiction “comports with the limits
imposed by federal due process.” Daimler, 571
U.S. at 125.
Due Process Clause protects 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, I471 U.S. 462, 471-72 (1985). In the
“canonical opinion” of International Shoe Co.
v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), the Supreme Court
held that a court may “exercise personal jurisdiction
over an out-of-state defendant if the defendant has certain
minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the
maintenance of the suit ...