United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
C. Coggins, Jr. United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants Bradling Financial
Group, Mark Corbett, and Veterans Benefit Leverage's
(“the Moving Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss for
Lack of Jurisdiction. ECF No. 59. Plaintiffs filed a Response
in Opposition, and the Moving Defendants filed a Reply. ECF
Nos. 63, 64. Accordingly, the Motion is ripe for review.
bring this action seeking a declaration that Defendants
violated 38 U.S.C. § 5301(a) and 37 U.S.C. § 701
and seeking damages for Defendants' alleged violations of
the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
(“RICO”) and civil conspiracy. In their Motion,
the Moving Defendants argue this Court cannot exercise
personal jurisdiction over Mark Corbettbecause he lacks
minimum contacts with the State of South Carolina. ECF No.
59-1. Specifically, Corbett asserts that this Court lacks
specific and general jurisdiction over him and claims that
the exercise of personal jurisdiction over him would be
improper under the Due Process Clause. Id.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the
plaintiff has the burden of showing that jurisdiction exists
based on specific facts in the record. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(2); see also Tetrev v. Pride Int'l,
Inc., 465 F.Supp.2d 555, 558 (D.S.C. 2006); Magic
Toyota, Inc. v. Se. Toyota Distribs., Inc., 784 F.Supp.
306, 310 (D.S.C. 1992). A lawful assertion of personal
jurisdiction over a defendant requires satisfying the
standards of the forum state's long-arm statute and
respecting the federal Constitution's Due Process
safeguards. CFA Inst. v. Inst. of Chartered Fin. Analysts
of India, 551 F.3d 285, 292 (4th Cir. 2009). Because
South Carolina's long-arm statute extends personal
jurisdiction to the outer bounds of due process, the
two-prong test collapses into a single inquiry here: whether
the exercise of jurisdiction over this defendant in this
matter comports with due process, based on the
defendant's contacts with the forum state. See
S.C. Code § 36-2-803.
authorizes nationwide service of process. See ESAB
Group v. Centricut, Inc., 126 F.3d 617 (4th Cir. 1997);
Resolutions Med. Corp., v. Strategic Prod. Dev.,
Inc., C/A No. 2:12-cv-02793-RMG, 2013 WL 12156812
(D.S.C. Jan. 4, 2013); Weese v. Savicorp, Inc., C/A
No. 2:13-cv-41, 2013 WL 6007499 (N.D. W.Va. Nov. 13, 2013).
Therefore, “service of process [in RICO cases] is
sufficient to establish the jurisdiction of the federal court
over the person of the defendant” as long as such
jurisdiction comports with due process. ESAB, 126
F.3d at 626 (quoting Hogue v. Milodon Eng'g,
Inc., 736 F.2d 989, 991 (4th Cir. 1984)). “Where
Fifth Amendment due process principles govern the
jurisdictional inquiry and a federal statute authorizes
nationwide service of process, courts in this Circuit apply a
less restrictive ‘national contacts' test rather
than conducting a traditional ‘minimum contacts'
analysis.” Weese, 2013 WL 6007499, at *3
(citing Hogue, 736 F.2d at 991). Under a
“national contacts” analysis, “the relevant
inquiry is . . . whether the defendant has sufficient
contacts with the United States as a whole.”
Abercrombie v. Continental Cas. Co., 295 F.Supp.2d
604, 607 (D.S.C. Dec. 16, 2003). “It is only in highly
unusual cases that inconvenience will rise to a level of
constitutional concern, ” and “the burden is on
the defendant to show that the burden of distant litigation
is so great as to put him at a severe disadvantage.”
ESAB, 126 F.3d at 627 (internal quotations omitted)
(quoting Republic of Panama v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg)
S.A., 119 F.3d 935, 947 (11th Cir. 1997)).
Moving Defendants contend that this Court cannot exercise
personal jurisdiction over them because they lack minimum
contacts with the State of South Carlina. However this
minimum contacts argument is misplaced. Under RICO, a
national contacts test is used, which analyzes whether a
defendant has sufficient contacts with the United States as a
whole. Clearly, the Moving Defendants have such contacts.
Moreover, the burden is on the defendant to show that the
exercise of personal jurisdiction over him would put him at a
severe disadvantage and that the disadvantage would rise to
the level of a constitutional concern. The Moving Defendants
have failed to demonstrate such a severe disadvantage.
See Weese, 2013 WL 6007499, at *4 (“While
litigating in West Virginia will undoubtedly pose some
inconvenience to defendants, given their location in
California, the burdens defendants identify-in the main,
distance and cost-are not so unusual or extreme as to
implicate constitutional concerns.”).
based upon the foregoing, Defendants Bradling Financial
Group, Mark Corbett, and Veterans Benefit Leverage's
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction is
IS SO ORDERED.
The Moving Defendants also assert that
Bradling Financial Group and Veterans Benefit Leverage are
trade names through which Corbett conducted business and are
not legal entities that are capable of being sued;
accordingly, the Moving Defendants contend all jurisdictional
arguments applicable to Corbett also apply to Bradling
Financial Group and Veterans Benefit Leverage. ECF No. 59-1
The statute governing venue and process
in RICO cases states that “[a]ll other process in any
action or proceeding under this chapter may be served on any
person in any judicial district in which such person resides,
is found, has an agent, or ...