United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Informaxion Solutions Inc, Plaintiff: Laura Johnson Evans,
Mary Barnwell Ramsay, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Smith Moore
Leatherwood, Charleston, SC.
Vantus Group, Vantus Technology Corporation, Vantus
Manufacturing Corporation, Defendants: Lana Hancock Sims, IV,
LEAD ATTORNEY, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, Greenville, SC.
MICHAEL DUFFY, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Vantus Group, Vantus
Technology Corporation, and Vantus Manufacturing
Corporation's (collectively " Defendants" )
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint or, in the
Alternative, Transfer Venue (ECF No. 5) (" Motion"
). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies
Defendants' Motion without prejudice and with leave to
December 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed this action in the
Berkeley County Court of Common Pleas against Vantus Group,
Vantus Technology Corporation (" VTC" ), and Vantus
Manufacturing Corporation (" VMCS" ).
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that on or about April 9,
2014, the Parties executed a Professional Services Agreement
(" Agreement" ) regarding the provision of certain
information technology consulting services. The Agreement was
accompanied by a Statement of Work (" SOW" ) to be
performed. The Complaint also alleges that " Plaintiff
provided Defendant with semi-monthly invoices as required by
the Agreement, which included hourly charges for the detailed
work necessary to fulfill the Agreement and SOW, as well as
hard costs incurred (such as travel and meeting-related
expenses)." (Pl.'s Compl. 2, ¶ 8, ECF No. 1-1,
at 4). According to Plaintiff, Defendants have failed to
remit payment for a single invoice, despite Plaintiff's
performance of its obligations under both the Agreement and
the SOW. Plaintiff further contends that it attempted to
discuss the negotiation and payment of the outstanding
invoices but that this effort proved fruitless.
thereafter filed suit in state court, asserting causes of
action for breach of contract, violation of the South
Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, S.C. Code Ann. §
39-5-10-20(a) et seq., and unjust enrichment.
Defendants subsequently removed the present action to this
Court on January 21, 2015, maintaining that jurisdiction was
proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. On January 28, 2015,
Defendants filed the instant Motion seeking to dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to section 15-5-150 of the
South Carolina Code of Laws and Rules 12(b)(2), (5), and (6)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In the alternative,
Defendants move to transfer this action to the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (2006). Plaintiff filed a
Response on February 17, 2015, and Defendants filed a Reply
on February 26, 2015.
court of limited jurisdiction, Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128
L.Ed.2d 391 (1994), this Court must remain mindful of the
fact that " [t]he validity of an order of a federal
court depends upon that court's having jurisdiction over
both the subject matter and the parties," Ins. Corp.
of Ir. v. Compagnie des Bauxites
de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 701, 102 S.Ct. 2099, 72
L.Ed.2d 492 (1982) (citing Stoll v. Gottlieb, 305
U.S. 165, 171-72, 59 S.Ct. 134, 83 L.Ed. 104 (1938);
Thompson v. Whitman, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 457, 465, 21
L.Ed. 897 (1873)). With this guiding principle in mind, the
Court has carefully considered the present Motion and the
arguments of counsel. However, after thoroughly reviewing the
record in this case, the Court concludes that it lacks
sufficient information at this juncture to confirm that
either jurisdictional prerequisite has been satisfied.
See United States v. Poole, 531 F.3d 263,
274 (4th Cir. 2008) (" A court is to presume . . . that
a case lies outside its limited jurisdiction unless
and until jurisdiction has been shown to be proper." ).
Accordingly, for the reasons outlined below, the Court denies
Defendants' Motion without prejudice and with leave to
refile following the completion of limited discovery.
on a review of Defendants' Motion, it appears that a
critical issue before the Court is the propriety of
exercising personal jurisdiction over Defendants. " [T]o
validly assert personal jurisdiction over a non-resident
defendant, two conditions must be satisfied."
Christian Sci. Bd. of Dirs. of the First Church of
Christ, Scientist v. Nolan, 259 F.3d 209, 215 (4th Cir.
2001). First, the exercise of jurisdiction must be authorized
by the long-arm statute of the forum state, and second, the
exercise of personal jurisdiction must not " overstep
the bounds" of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due
Process Clause. Anita's N.M. Style Mexican Food, Inc.
v. Anita's Mexican Foods Corp., 201 F.3d 314, 317
(4th Cir. 2000). South Carolina's long-arm statute has
been construed to be coextensive with, and reach the outer
limits allowed by, the Due Process Clause. E.g.,ESAB Grp., Inc. v. Zurich Ins. PLC, 685 F.3d 376,
391 (4th Cir. 2012). Therefore, the dual jurisdictional
requirements collapse into the due process analysis. See
id. Accordingly, the scope of the inquiry is whether a
defendant has " certain minimum contacts" with the
forum, such that " maintenance of the suit does not
offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.'" Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95
(1945) (citations omitted). The analytical framework for
determining whether minimum contacts exist differs according
to which species of personal jurisdiction--general or
specific--is alleged. See generallyESAB Grp.,
Inc. v. Centricut, Inc., 126 F.3d 617, 623-24 (4th Cir.
1997). Here, Plaintiff concedes that Defendants are not
subject to general jurisdiction. ...