United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
OPINION & ORDER
M. Herlong, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on the Defendant's motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule
12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the
alternative, to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. §§
1404(a) or 1406(a). For the reasons stated below, the court
denies Defendant's motion.
Factual and Procedural Background
case arises out of a dispute relating to a service mark and
trademark registered to the Plaintiff, The Tool Shed, Inc.
(“Tool Shed”). (Am. Compl., ECF No. 8.) Tool Shed
is a company that has allegedly provided retail store
services for professional tools under the service mark
“THE TOOL SHED” since 1979 and sold various tools
under the trademark “THE TOOL SHED” since 1998.
(Id. at ¶ 5, 11, ECF No. 8.) In the amended
complaint, Tool Shed asserts that Defendant Mattoon Rural
King Supply, Inc. d/b/a Rural King Supply (“Rural
King”), a company that operates a chain of more than
100 stores in twelve states, markets products for sale that
infringe upon Tool Shed's service mark and trademark on
Rural King's website. (Id. at ¶¶
17-23, ECF No. 8.) Further, Tool Shed alleges that Rural King
has purposefully directed activities to South Carolina.
(Id. at ¶ 4, ECF No. 8.) Specifically, Tool
Shed alleges that these purposefully directed activities
include: marketing, advertising, product sales, tortious acts
of infringement, unfair competition, and the distribution of
goods in South Carolina. (Id., ECF No. 8.) In
connection with these activities, Tool Shed alleges that
Rural King sold approximately $2, 000.00 worth of infringing
products to South Carolina addresses through their website.
(Id. at ¶ 26, ECF No. 8.) In addition, Tool
Shed alleges to have received telephone calls and emails from
Rural King's employees and customers regarding warranties
and replacement parts for infringing products. (Id.
at ¶ 28-61, ECF No. 8.)
August 15, 2017, Tool Shed filed the amended complaint
against Rural King. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 8.) Rural King filed
the instant motion on August 29, 2017. (Mot. Dismiss, ECF.
No. 11.) Tool Shed responded in opposition on September 14,
2017. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 14.) Rural King
filed a reply on September 21, 2017. (Reply Supp. Mot.
Dismiss, ECF No. 15.) This matter is ripe for consideration.
Discussion of the Law
King alleges that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over
it. “When a court's personal jurisdiction over a
defendant is contested, the burden is on the plaintiff to
establish the existence of a ground for exercising such
jurisdiction.” ESAB Group, Inc. v. Centricut,
LLC, 34 F.Supp.2d 323, 328 (D.S.C. 1999). In the absence
of an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff must establish a
prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Mylan Labs., Inc. v.
Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 60 (4th Cir. 1993). The court may
consider evidence outside of the pleadings, such as
affidavits and other evidentiary materials, in ruling on a
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Magic Toyota, Inc. v. Se. Toyota Distribs., Inc.,
784 F.Supp. 306, 310 (D.S.C. 1992). The court, moreover,
“must draw all reasonable inferences arising from the
proof, and resolve all factual disputes, in the
plaintiff's favor.” Mylan Labs, 2 F.3d at
assert personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant,
the exercise of jurisdiction must be authorized by South
Carolina's long-arm statute and must comport with the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Young v.
F.D.I.C., 103 F.3d 1180, 1191 (4th Cir. 1997). The
Supreme Court of South Carolina has interpreted South
Carolina's long-arm statute to extend to the
constitutional limits imposed by federal due process.
Foster v. Arletty 3 Sarl, 278 F.3d 409, 414 (4th
Cir. 2002). “Consequently, the statutory inquiry
necessarily merges with the constitutional inquiry, and the
two inquiries essentially become one.” ESAB Group,
Inc. v. Centricut, Inc., 126 F.3d 617, 623 (4th Cir.
1997) (internal quotation marks omitted).
the constitutional analysis, a court has personal
jurisdiction over those persons with “sufficient
minimum contacts with the forum state such that the
maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions
of fair play and substantial justice.” Consulting
Eng'rs Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 277
(4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Personal
jurisdiction can be either general or specific, depending
upon the degree of defendant's contacts with the forum
state. General personal jurisdiction exists when a
defendant's contacts with the forum state are
“continuous and systematic, ” thereby permitting
the exercise of jurisdiction for actions unrelated to
defendant's contacts with the state. Helicopteros
Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408,
414-15 & n.9 (1984). A defendant is subject to specific
personal jurisdiction when the suit arises out of or is
related to the defendant's contacts with the forum.
Id. at 414 & n.8.
determining whether the due process requirements for specific
personal jurisdiction exist, the court must consider
“(1) the extent to which the defendant 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.” ALS Scan, Inc. v.
Digital Serv. Consultants, Inc., 293 F.3d 707, 712 (4th
Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). An
out-of-state defendant's internet activity may establish
specific jurisdiction when the defendant “(1) directs
electronic activity into the State, (2) with the manifested
intent of engaging in business or other interactions within
the State, and (3) that activity creates, in a person within
the State, a potential cause of action cognizable in the
State's courts.” Id. at 714.
King argues that it is not subject to either general or
specific jurisdiction in South Carolina because it is not a
South Carolina corporation and does not own businesses in
South Carolina. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 2, ECF
No. 11-1.) In addition, according to Rural King, it does not
advertise, expressly solicit sales, engage in marketing, or
have employees or agents in South Carolina. (Id.,
ECF No. 11-1.)
support of its motion, Rural King submits the declaration of
John Leonauskas (“Leonauskas”), Rural King's
Vice President of Marketing. (Id. Ex. B (Leonauskas
Decl. ¶ 1), ECF No. 11-3.) Leonauskas states that Rural
King is an Illinois corporation having its principal place of
business in Illinois. (Id. Ex. B (Leonauskas Decl.
¶¶ 3-4), ECF No. 11-3.) In addition, Leonauskas
states that Rural King maintains approximately one hundred
retail stores throughout the United States. (Id. Ex.
B (Leonauskas Decl. ¶ 3), ECF No. 11-3.) However, there
are no store locations in South Carolina. (Def.'s Mem
Supp. Mot. Dismiss Ex. B (Leonauskas Decl. ¶ 3), ECF No.
response, Tool Shed asserts that Rural King's online
sales of more than $2, 000.00 to South Carolina addresses and
contacts regarding allegedly infringing products are
sufficient to establish specific jurisdiction. (Resp.
Opp'n Mot. Dismiss 1-2, ECF No. 14.) Applying the three
prongs of ALS Scan, the court finds that Rural
King's sale of infringing products to South Carolina
addresses through its website is sufficient to establish
specific jurisdiction. See Emory Group, LLC v. South By
Sea, LLC, CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:15-01856-MGL, 2016 WL
775360, at *3 (D.S.C. Feb. 29, 2016) (unpublished) (finding
specific jurisdiction based upon website displaying
copyrighted designs and sales in South Carolina). Rural King
has directed electronic activity into South Carolina, which
resulted in sales of $2, 000.00 ...