No Jurisdiction! Florida Company Defeats Massachusetts’ Litigant’s Sprawling TCPA Lawsuit On Personal Jurisdiction Grounds
Patrick Michaud sued a Florida home improvement company and a salesperson in Middlesex Superior Court, Massachusetts. He asserted various TCPA and state-law equivalent claims. The Defendants moved the case to federal court and then moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Court agreed with Defendants and dismissed the case. Michaud v. Solomon, 20-cv-11999-DJC, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102076 (D. Mass. May 29, 2021). The decision is a useful reminder that all TCPA defendants should carefully consider jurisdiction when facing a lawsuit in a locale far removed from their business operations.
Mr. Michaud first argued Defendants were subject to general jurisdiction in Massachusetts, but only in conclusory fashion that “Defendants ‘had continuous business with Massachusetts directly by and through their agents.'” Id. at * 10. The Court rejected this argument because Defendants proffered concrete evidence that they had “no presence” in Massachusetts and thus were not “in any way ‘at home’ in Massachusetts.” Id. at *11.
Likewise, for specific jurisdiction, Mr. Michaud failed to present evidence that any claim arose out of or related to Defendants’ in-state activities; nor did Mr. Michaud present evidence that Defendants had purposefully availed themselves of the laws of the forum state. In particular, the Defendants presented evidence that they did not employ one of the caller’s in question when he allegedly called Mr. Michaud, and the company had network issues that prevented calls when Mr. Michaud alleged he received calls from Defendants. Id. at *12-13. Additionally, the Court concluded that–in light of Defendants’ minimal contacts with Massachusetts–its exercise of personal jurisdiction would not be reasonable.
This case is a good reminder about the need to challenge jurisdiction if there’s an opportunity to do so.