United States District Court, D. Colorado
MICHAEL GREEN, on behalf of himself and all similarly situated persons, Plaintiff,
FISHBONE SAFETY SOLUTIONS, LTD., a Texas limited partnership, WILLIAM S. CAIN, BSC INTEREST, LLC, a Texas limited liability company, and NOBLE ENERGY, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendants.
A. BRIMMER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants William S.
Cain's and BSC Interest, LLC's Motion to Dismiss
[Docket No. 26], which is brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2). The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this
case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
case arises out of an employment dispute. Docket No. 6 at
1-2, ¶ 1. According to the amended complaint, defendants
Fishbone Safety Solutions, Ltd. (“Fishbone”),
William S. Cain (“Cain”), BSC Interest, LLC
(“BSC”), and Noble Energy, Inc.
(“Noble”) violated the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) by failing to pay their employees
statutorily mandated overtime. Id. Defendant Cain is
the managing partner of BSC and the president of Fishbone.
Docket No. 26-1 at 2-3, ¶¶ 3-4. BSC, in turn, is
the general partner of Fishbone. Id. at 3, ¶ 4.
alleges that he worked for defendants as a “Safety
Advisor, inspecting and monitoring oil well sites for safety
issues.” Docket No. 6 at 3, ¶ 10. Plaintiff states
that he was regularly required to work over forty hours per
week, but defendants refused to pay him overtime because he
was classified as an independent contractor, rather than as
an employee. Id. at 3-4, ¶¶ 11-12.
Plaintiff argues that defendants misclassified him in order
to avoid paying overtime premiums and to reduce other
employment expenses. Id. at 4, ¶ 13.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) is to
determine whether the Court has personal jurisdiction. The
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal
jurisdiction over defendants. Rambo v. Am. S. Ins.
Co., 839 F.2d 1415, 1417 (10th Cir. 1988). Where a
district court considers a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction and there has been no evidentiary
hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing
of personal jurisdiction to defeat the motion. AST Sports
Sci., Inc. v. CLF Distribution Ltd., 514 F.3d 1054,
1056-57 (10th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). The Court will
accept the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true
to the extent they are uncontroverted by affidavits submitted
by defendants. Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503,
1505 (10th Cir. 1995) (citations omitted). “If the
parties present conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes
must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor, and the
plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient
notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving
party.” Id. (quotation omitted).
assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a federal
question case, the Court must determine: “(1) whether
the applicable statute potentially confers jurisdiction by
authorizing service of process on the defendant and (2)
whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due
process.” Peay v. BellSouth Med. Assistance
Plan, 205 F.3d 1206, 1209 (10th Cir. 2000) (quotations
omitted). Because the FLSA is silent as to service of
process, the Court looks to the long-arm statute of the forum
state. See Federated Rural Elec. Ins. Corp. v. Kootenai
Elec. Co-op., 17 F.3d 1302, 1304-05 (10th Cir. 1994).
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 offends due process. Pro Axess, Inc. v.
Orlux Distrib., Inc., 428 F.3d 1270, 1276 (10th Cir.
2005); Classic Auto Sales, Inc. v. Schocket, 832
P.2d 233, 235 (Colo. 1992); Archangel Diamond Corp. v.
Lukoil, 123 P.3d 1187, 1193 (Colo. 2005).
jurisdiction comports with due process where a defendant has
minimum contacts with the forum state and where those
contacts are such that jurisdiction does not offend
‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.'” Interstate Restoration, LLC v.
Wilson Assocs., No. 13-cv-03423-REB-MJW, 2014 WL
1395466, at *2 (D. Colo. Apr. 8, 2014) (quoting Int'l
Shoe Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Minimum
contacts may be established under the doctrines of general
jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction. Goodyear Dunlop
Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 918
(2011). Where general jurisdiction is asserted over a
non-resident defendant who has not consented to suit in the
forum, minimum contacts exist if the plaintiff demonstrates
that the defendant's “affiliations with the State
are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render
them essentially at home in the forum State.”
Id. at 919. Specific jurisdiction, in contrast, is
present only if the lawsuit “aris[es] out of or
relat[es] to the defendant's contacts with the
forum.” Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court
of California, San Francisco Cty., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1780
(2017). Plaintiff does not assert general jurisdiction; thus,
the Court will analyze defendants BSC's and Cain's
contacts with Colorado as they relate to specific
specific jurisdiction analysis is two-fold. First, the Court
must determine whether defendant has such minimum contacts
with Colorado that defendant “should reasonably
anticipate being haled into court” here. World-Wide
Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980).
Within this inquiry, the Court must determine whether there
is an “affiliation between the forum and the underlying
controversy, principally, [an] activity or an occurrence that
takes place in the forum State.”
Bristol-Myers, 137 S.Ct. at 1781. Second, if
defendants' actions create sufficient minimum contacts,
the Court must consider whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over defendants offends “traditional
notions of fair play and substantial
justice.” Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior
Court of Cal., 480 U.S. 102, 113 (1987) (internal
quotations omitted). This latter inquiry requires a
determination of whether the Court's exercise of personal
jurisdiction over defendants is “reasonable” in
light of the circumstances of the case. Id.
considering each defendant's contacts with Colorado, the
Court considers plaintiff's argument that the Court has
personal jurisdiction over defendants BSC and Cain because
plaintiff has adequately alleged that each defendant acted as
a joint employer within the meaning of FLSA. Docket No. 41 at
2-4. Plaintiff argues that, because BSC and Cain are joint
employers, they are subject to jurisdiction where the
employee works. Id. In support of his argument,
plaintiff cites Powers v. Emcon Assocs., Inc., No.
14-cv-03006-KMT, 2016 WL 1111708 (D. Colo. Mar. 22, 2016),
where the court found it had personal jurisdiction over
out-of-state defendants because plaintiffs had properly pled
joint employer liability under the FLSA. Id. at *6.
The Powers court, however, did not discuss the
difference between statutory liability and personal
jurisdiction or explain how the definition of
“employer” under the FLSA could expand the scope
of personal jurisdiction. Id.
personal jurisdiction is a constitutional question that does
not turn on the particulars of statutory liability. See
Creech v. P.J. Wichita, L.L.C., 2017 WL 914810, at *3-4
(D. Kan. Mar. 8, 2017) (“[P]ersonal jurisdiction
derives from a constitutional inquiry of due process,
liability theories arise from federal or state
statutes.”). While some courts have relied upon
statutory liability to answer questions concerning personal
jurisdiction, they “have largely done so without
analysis.” Id. at *3 (discussing examples).
Those cases that have squarely considered the question
rejected the notion that statutory liability is relevant to
personal jurisdiction. See, e.g., Cent. States, Se. &
Sw. Areas Pension Fund v. Reimer Express World Corp.,
230 F.3d 934, 944 (7th Cir. 2000) (“[A] state or
federal statute cannot transmogrify insufficient minimum
contacts into a basis for personal jurisdiction by making
these contacts elements of a cause of action, since this
would violate due process.”); In re Enter.
Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Employment Practices Litig.,
735 F.Supp.2d 277, 328 (W.D. Pa. 2010) (collecting cases
divided over whether statutory liability is relevant to
personal jurisdiction and concluding that the two inquiries
are distinct). While the Tenth Circuit has not addressed the
issue, the Court finds that defendants BSC and Cain's
alleged status as joint employers is irrelevant to the