NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana has dismissed a Louisiana man’s marine personal injury lawsuit against three defendants, citing a lack of personal jurisdiction.
In the March 21 ruling, the court said plaintiff Clint Pineda fails to prove that the defendants have sufficient ties to the United States and that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case. According to the opinion, Pineda brought the lawsuit against Allseas Group SA (AGSA), Solitaire Transport Chartering (STC), and Poseidon Personnel Services (PPS).
The district court said AGSA is a holding company with its principal place of business in Switzerland; STC is a Belgian company and owns the vessel that Pineda worked aboard; while PPS is a Swiss marine crew supply corporation.
Pineda was hired by PPS in 2001, then promoted to welder foreman and signed an updated contract for employment with PPS in 2013, according to the opinion.
The United States District Eastern District of Louisiana has dismissed a Louisiana man’s marine personal injury lawsuit against three defendants, citing lack of personal jurisdiction. pexels.com
“Throughout his 17 years of employment with PPS, plaintiff spent almost all of his time working on the P/L Solitaire,” the opinion stated. “STC purchased the Solitaire on Nov. 9, 2015.”
The district court said Pineda suffered an injury when he hit his head on a piece of angle iron on the Solitaire in 2016, which was in The Netherlands at the time. He then filed a suit, alleging unseaworthiness and negligence.
In reviewing the case, the district court analyzed specific jurisdiction, which focuses on the relationship between the defendant, the forum and the lawsuit.
“Specific jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation is appropriate when the corporation has purposefully directed its activities at the forum state and the litigation results from alleged injuries that arise out of or relate to those activities,” the opinion stated.
In this case, the district court said Pineda fails to prove that his claims arise out of or are related to the defendants’ contact with Louisiana. According to the opinion, Pineda didn’t have any claims to prove that the companies have purposely directed their activities toward Louisiana or purposely availed themselves of the privileges of conducting business in Louisiana.
The district court also took into account general jurisdiction, which focuses on whether a foreign defendant maintains continuous and systematic contacts with the forum state.
“If a plaintiff can prove that a foreign defendant’s contacts with forum state are so extensive to render it ‘at home’ in the forum state, general jurisdiction is appropriate, even if plaintiff’s claims are unrelated to the contacts,” the court ruled.
The district court said AGSA is not “at home” in Louisiana.
“The plaintiff’s attempt to prove otherwise by pointing the court to projects listed on AGSA’s website, one approximately 80 miles off the Louisiana coast, is insufficient to establish general jurisdiction,” the opinion stated. The court added that Pineda also failed to prove general jurisdiction in his claims against STC.
The district court ruled that Pineda alleged that STC had continuous and systematic contacts with the forum state, but the arguments fail because the contacts are sporadic rather than continuous and systematic.
PPS is also not at home and doesn’t have a business presence in Louisiana, according to the opinion.
The district court said Pineda argued that PPS has developed extensive contacts with the forum state because it regularly employs both U.S. citizens and Louisiana residents.
This is not persuasive because where employees choose to live does nothing to show that the PPS purposefully availed itself of the benefits of Louisiana such that it could reasonably anticipate being hauled into court here,” the opinion said.