United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court for consideration of
Plaintiff's objections to the Report and Recommendation
(“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge
Kaymani D. West, who recommends granting a motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by one of the two
defendants in this case.
Review of the R & R
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
Personal Jurisdiction; Rule 12(b)(2)
jurisdiction involves [a] court's authority over a
particular defendant.” Sky Cable, LLC v. DIRECTV,
Inc., 886 F.3d 375, 392 (4th Cir. 2018) (citing
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 126 (2014)).
“In general, the federal district courts exercise
personal jurisdiction in the manner and to the extent
provided by state law. In other words, a district court has
personal jurisdiction over a defendant if the state courts
where the federal court is located would possess such
jurisdiction.” ePlus Tech., Inc. v. Aboud, 313
F.3d 166, 176 (4th Cir. 2002) (internal citation omitted).
may assert the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction by
motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). “Under Rule 12(b)(2), a
defendant must affirmatively raise a personal jurisdiction
challenge, but the plaintiff bears the burden of
demonstrating personal jurisdiction at every stage following
such a challenge.” Grayson v. Anderson, 816
F.3d 262, 267 (4th Cir. 2016).
Randy Williams, proceeding pro se, filed this diversity
action in this Court and sues two defendants: American
International Group, Inc. (“AIG”) and American
Home Assurance Company (“American Home”).
Defendant AIG has filed a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2),
see ECF No. 71, and the Magistrate Judge recommends
granting the motion. See R & R [ECF No. 108].
Plaintiff has filed objections to the R & R asserting,
among other things, that the Court should not decide the
motion without permitting him “a reasonable opportunity
to conduct discovery on the issue of personal
jurisdiction.” ECF No. 111 at pp. 7-8.
with many pretrial motions, a court has broad discretion to
determine the procedure that it will follow in resolving a
Rule 12(b)(2) motion.” Grayson, 816 F.3d at
268. “The plaintiff's burden in establishing
jurisdiction varies according to the posture of a case and
the evidence that has been presented to the court.”
Id. The Fourth Circuit has explained:
If a district court looks only at the initial court filings,
“a plaintiff need only make a prima facie
showing” that personal jurisdiction exists.Id. at 268. That approach is disfavored,
and the “better course is for the district court to
follow a procedure that allows it to dispose of the motion as
a preliminary matter” applying a preponderance of the
evidence standard.Id. An evidentiary
hearing is not required before the preponderance standard
attaches, but we do require district courts to “afford
the parties a fair opportunity to present both the relevant
jurisdictional evidence and their legal arguments, ...