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Sallie v. Spanish Basketball Federation

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 25, 2014

ROBURT SALLIE, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
SPANISH BASKETBALL FEDERATION, a business entity, and CLUB BASQUET TARRAGONA, a business entity, Defendants.

RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

KATHLEEN M. TAFOYA, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the court on "Defendant Spanish Basketball Federation's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" (Doc. No. 29 [Mot.], filed June 7, 2013). Plaintiff filed his response on July 1, 2013 (Doc. No. 31 [Resp.]), and Defendant filed its reply on July 12, 2013 (Doc. No. 32 [Reply]). The motion is ripe for recommendation and ruling.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following allegations are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. No. 1 [Compl.]). Plaintiff states he is a professional basketball player and has sought employment with a professional basketball team. In about September 2011, a sports agent contacted Plaintiff with an offer to play professional basketball in Spain. Plaintiff alleges the contract was with Defendant Club Basquet Tarragona ("Tarragona"), which is a part of the Spanish Basketball Federation ("FEB").

Plaintiff began playing professional basketball for Tarragona in September 2011. On about November 8, 2011, Tarragona conducted a random drug test of Plaintiff. The test was administered under FEB's anti-doping policy. Prior to taking the test, Plaintiff completed a form that required him to list any substances or medications that he was taking that were unknown to the team physician. Plaintiff completed the form and listed DayQuil and an "unknown pill, " which Plaintiff states was an "all-natural male enhancement pill that Plaintiff had been offered the previous day by a teammate."

In about December 2011, Plaintiff was asked by Tarragona if he had consumed ExtenZe, a male enhancement pill that contains dehydroepiandrosterone ("DHEA"), a substance banned by the FEB. Plaintiff denied taking ExtenZe and shortly thereafter confirmed that the "unknown pill" he had taken was Black Ant, an all-natural male enhancement pill that does not contain DHEA.

In mid- to late-December 2011, Plaintiff's employment with Tarragona ended, and Plaintiff returned to Sacramento, California. Plaintiff alleges that, in or about February 2012, Defendants informed the media that Plaintiff's contract with Tarragona was terminated because Plaintiff had consumed ExtenZe. The allegedly false story appeared on multiple websites. Plaintiff alleges the dissemination of the allegation concerning Plaintiff's use of ExtenZe has damaged his professional reputation and employment opportunities as a professional athlete.

Plaintiff asserts claims for False Light, Slander, Libel, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Negligence.

LEGAL STANDARDS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides that a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for "lack of jurisdiction over the person." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over Defendants. OMI Holdings, Inc. v. Royal Ins. Co., 149 F.3d 1086, 1091 (10th Cir. 1998). In the preliminary stages of litigation, Plaintiff's burden is light. Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir. 1995). Where, as here, there has been no evidentiary hearing, and the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is decided on the basis of affidavits and other materials, Plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing that jurisdiction exists. Id.

Plaintiff "has the duty to support jurisdictional allegations in a complaint by competent proof of the supporting facts if the jurisdictional allegations are challenged by an appropriate pleading." Pytlik v. Prof'l Res., Ltd., 887 F.2d 1371, 1376 (10th Cir. 1989). The allegations in Plaintiff's complaint "must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by [Defendants'] affidavits.'" Wenz, 55 F.3d at 1505 (quoting Doe v. Nat'l Med. Servs., 974 F.2d 143, 145 (10th Cir. 1992)). If the parties present conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes must be resolved in Plaintiff's favor, and "plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving party." Id. (citation omitted). Only well-pleaded facts, as opposed to mere conclusory allegations, must be accepted as true. Id.

To determine whether a federal court has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant in a diversity action, the court looks to the law of the forum state. Taylor v. Phelan, 912 F.2d 429, 431 (10th Cir. 1990). In Colorado, the assertion of personal jurisdiction must both: (1) satisfy the requirements of the long-arm statute; and (2) comport with due process. Id.; Doering v. Copper Mountain, Inc., 259 F.3d 1202, 1209 (10th Cir. 2001); Classic Auto Sales, Inc. v. Schocket, 832 P.2d 233, 235 (Colo. 1992). Colorado's long-arm statute subjects a defendant to personal jurisdiction for engaging in - either in person or by an agent - the "commission of a tortious act within this state, " or the "transaction of any business within this state." Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-1-124(1)(a)-(b) (2007). To comport with due process, a defendant must have minimum contacts with the forum state such that maintenance of the lawsuit would not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). Colorado's long-arm statute is a codification of the "minimum contacts" principle required by due process. See Lichina v. Futura, Inc., 260 F.Supp. 252, 255 (D. Colo. 1966). Accordingly, under Colorado law, a court may assert jurisdiction to the fullest extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See OMI Holdings, Inc., 149 F.3d at 1090; Scheur v. Dist. Ct., 684 P.2d 249 (Colo. 1984).

ANALYSIS

Defendant FEB argues that Plaintiff's claims against it must be dismissed because this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. In a diversity action, a federal court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant if jurisdiction is consistent with the state's long-arm statute and if jurisdiction does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Benton v. Cameco Corp., 375 F.3d 1070, 1074-75 (10th Cir. 2004). The Colorado long-arm statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-1-124, has been construed to extend jurisdiction to the full extent of the Constitution, so the jurisdictional analysis here reduces to a single inquiry of whether jurisdiction ...


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