United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson Division
In re: E.E., by and through his Next Friend Molly Epsey, Plaintiff,
Eagle's Nest Foundation d/b/a Eagle's Nest Camp and Outdoor Academy, Defendant.
E.E., Plaintiff, represented by Candy Kern-Fuller, Upstate
Eagle's Nest Foundation, Defendant, represented by
Stephen Clay Keim, Ford and Harrison & Kristin Starnes Gray,
Ford and Harrison.
Outdoor Academy, Defendant, represented by Stephen Clay Keim,
Ford and Harrison.
ORDER AND OPINION
HOWE HENDRICKS, District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to
dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer venue. (ECF No.
17.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.
However, rather than dismissing this action, the Court
transfers the case to the Western District of North Carolina,
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
E.E. ("Plaintiff") is a minor child and brings this
action through his mother and next friend, Molly Espey
("Ms. Espey"). Plaintiff is a citizen and resident
of Pickens County, South Carolina. (ECF No. 10 at 1.)
Defendant Eagle's Nest Foundation d/b/a Nest Camp and
Outdoor Academy ("Defendant") is a North Carolina
non-profit educational organization. ( Id. ) Its
experiential educational programs include Eagle's Nest
Camp (a residential co-ed summer camp, "Camp"), The
Outdoor Academy (an academic residential semester school) and
Hante Adventures (educational adventure programs for teens).
( Id.; ECF No. 20 at 2.) The Eagle's Nest Camp
and The Outdoor Academy take place in Pisgah National Forest,
North Carolina. (ECF No. 20 at 2.) The Hante Adventures
program varies in location. ( Id. ) It has taken
place once in South Carolina-a two week excursion in the
summer of 2009. ( Id. )
attended a semester at The Outdoor Academy in Spring 2015.
(ECF No. 10 at 5.) During this time, Defendant extended
Plaintiff an offer to be a Junior Counselor for the 2015
Summer Program at Eagle's Nest Camp. ( Id. at
3-5.) However, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant rescinded the
offer after learning of texts Plaintiff sent concerning his
depressive feelings. ( Id. at 3.) Citing concerns
for Plaintiff's mental health, Defendant prohibited
Plaintiff from attending the Eagle's Nest Camp,
communicating with anyone in the Camp, or stepping foot on
Defendant's property without prior written approval. (
Id. at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that after the texting
incident, Defendant required Plaintiff to sign an invasive
care plan in order to return to the Outdoor Academy. (
Id. at 5.) According to Plaintiff, both his ban from
the Camp and the care plan were discriminatory and caused him
to suffer emotional distress. ( Id. at 5-6.)
Plaintiff seeks remedies under the Americans With
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1201, et. seq. (
Id. at 6.)
September 9, 2015, Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's
Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2) and 12(b)(3). (ECF No. 17.) Specifically, Defendant
asserts that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction in this
case and that the venue is also improper. ( Id. at
1.) In the alternative, Defendant asks that the Court
transfer venue in this case to the Western District of North
Carolina, Asheville Division. ( Id. at 1-2.)
Plaintiff filed a response on September 28, 2015 (ECF No.
19), to which Defendant replied on October 8, 2015 (ECF No.
20). The Court has reviewed the briefing and the applicable
law, and now issues the following ruling.
court's personal jurisdiction is challenged, the burden
is on the plaintiff to establish that a ground for
jurisdiction exists. Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673,
676 (4th Cir. 1989). When the court resolves the motion on
written submissions (as opposed to an evidentiary hearing),
the plaintiff need only make a "prima facie showing of a
sufficient jurisdictional basis." Id. However,
the plaintiff's showing must be based on specific facts
set forth in the record. Magic Toyota, Inc. v. Southeast
Toyota Distributors, Inc., 784 F.Supp. 306, 310 (D.S.C.
1992). The court may consider the parties' pleadings,
affidavits, and other supporting documents but must construe
them "in the light most favorable to plaintiff, drawing
all inferences and resolving all factual disputes in his
favor, and assuming plaintiff's credibility."
Sonoco Prods. Co. v. ACE INA Ins., 877 F.Supp.2d
398, 404-05 (D.S.C. 2012) (internal quotations omitted);
see also Carefirst of Maryland, Inc. v.
Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs., Inc., 334 F.3d 390, 396 (4th
Cir. 2003) ("In deciding whether the plaintiff has made
the requisite showing, the court must take all disputed facts
and reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.").
However, a court "need not credit conclusory allegations
or draw farfetched inferences." Sonoco, 877
F.Supp.2d at 205 (internal quotations omitted).
his burden, Plaintiff must show (1) that the exercise of
jurisdiction is authorized by the long-arm statute of the
state and (2) that the exercise of personal jurisdiction
complies with the constitutional due process requirements.
E.g., Christian Science Bd. Of Directors of
First Church of Christ, Scientist v. Nolan, 259 F.3d 209, 215
(4th Cir. 2001). South Carolina has interpreted its long-arm
statute to extend to the constitutional limits of due
process. See Southern Plastics Co. v. Southern
Commerce Bank, 423 S.E.2d 128, 130-31 (S.C. 1992). Thus,
the first step is collapsed into the second, and the only
inquiry before the Court is whether the due process
requirements are met. ESAB Group, Inc. v. Centricut,
LLC, 34 F.Supp.2d 323, 328 (D.S.C. 1999).
process requires that a defendant have sufficient
"minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the
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
(1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463
(1940)). This standard can be met in two ways: "by
finding specific jurisdiction based on conduct connected to
the suit or by finding general jurisdiction."
E.g., ALS Scan, Inc. v. Digital Serv.
Consultants, Inc., 293 F.3d 707, 711-12 (4th Cir. 2002)
(citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 (1984)).
can assert general jurisdiction over business entities only
when the "continuous corporate operation within a state
is thought so substantial and of such a nature as to justify
suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings
entirely distinct from those activities." Nichols v.
G.D. Searle & Co., 991 F.2d 1195, 1199 (4th Cir. 1993);
see also Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A.
v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2853-54 (2011) (holding that
the "paradigm forum for the exercise of general
jurisdiction" of a corporation is "one in which the
corporation is fairly regarded as at home"). Thus,
general jurisdiction requires a showing that "the
defendant's activities in the state" were
"continuous and systematic." Carefirst,
334 F.3d at 397 (quotation marks and citation omitted).
determine whether specific jurisdiction exists, the Court
considers "(1) the extent to which the defendant has
purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting
activities in the state; (2) whether the plaintiffs'
claims arise out of those activities directed at the state;
and (3) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction would
be constitutionally reasonable.'" Id.
(citing ALS Scan, Inc. v. Digital Serv. Consultants,
Inc.,293 F.3d 707, 711-12 (4th Cir. 2002), cert.
denied,537 U.S. 1105 (2003)). This three-part test is
designed to protect a defendant from having to litigate a