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SHO Services, LLC v. China Film Group Corp.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

May 11, 2018

SHO SERVICES, LLC, a Colorado limited liability company, Plaintiff,
v.
CHINA FILM GROUP CORPORATION, a China corporation, Defendant. Date 15-Apr-17 Invoice No. 04152017001 Memorandum Reference No. SS519D Total due $29, 400.00

          ORDER ENTERING DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANT CHINA FILM GROUP CORPORATION

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Sho Services, LLC's Motion for Default Judgment against Defendant China Film Group Corporation. (Doc. # 16.) For the reasons discussed below, the motion is granted and a default judgment is entered.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a Colorado-based security, crowd safety, and management company that provides safety consulting and management designed for live entertainment environments, including evacuation plans, emergency procedure plans, public safety coordination, and budgeting compliance. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Defendant is a film enterprise in the People's Republic of China. (Id. at ¶ 2.)

         In early 2017, Defendant was seeking security, security coordination, and executive protection in several locations in Asia for the production of a new, feature-length theatrical motion picture, known as Edge of the World. (Id. at ¶ 8.) In connection with this search, Defendant sent emails to Plaintiff regarding the services it needed, and in response, Plaintiff provided security personnel profiles to Defendant. (Id.)

         Defendant eventually asked Plaintiff to book airfare for several of Plaintiff's security personnel to fly to Asia. (Id.) As a result, the Parties entered into a payment contract, referred to as a Reimbursement Memorandum. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Over the next two months, Defendant made numerous additional requests to Plaintiff for security personnel to assist in the filming and production of Edge of the World in Asia. Each time Plaintiff provided such personnel, the Parties entered into another Reimbursement Memorandum. (Id. at ¶¶ 10-11.) Via email, Defendant also agreed to pay for additional expenses connected to Plaintiff's services, travels, and appearances at various meetings in China. (Doc. # 25.)

         Consistent with its services, the executed Memoranda, and various other email exchanges, Plaintiff issued a series of invoices from its location in Colorado via email to Defendant. For example, Plaintiff issued invoices to Defendant on February 25, 2017 (two), February 26, 2017 (four), March 5, 2017 (two), March 11, 2017, March 19, 2017 (three), March 27, 2017, March 31, 2017, April 5, 2017, and April 15, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 12; Doc. # 21-2.) Despite repeated requests for payment, Defendant has not paid any of these invoices and, according to Plaintiff, Defendant now owes Plaintiff the principal amount of $241, 923.91 for services provided and costs incurred. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-13.)

         To recover this outstanding debt, Plaintiff commenced this action, asserting two claims for relief: Breach of Contract and Unjust Enrichment. (Doc. # 1.) Plaintiff effectuated service on November 13, 2017. (Doc. # 14.) When Defendant did not respond to the Complaint or otherwise enter an appearance, Plaintiff moved for an Entry of Default, which the Clerk granted on February 13, 2018 (Doc. # 18), and a Default Judgment, which is the subject of the instant order.

         II. PERSONAL JURISDICTION

         A. LAW

         Before entering default judgment against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise defend, the district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction over the parties. Williams v. Life Sav. & Loan, 802 F.2d 1200, 1202-03 (10th Cir. 1986); see also Hukill v. Okla. Native Am. Domestic Violence Coalition, 542 F.3d 794, 797 (10th Cir. 2008) (“[A] default judgment in a civil case is void if there is no personal jurisdiction over the defendant.”). Defects in personal jurisdiction are not waived by default when a party fails to appear or to respond, and the plaintiff bears the burden of proving personal jurisdiction before a default judgment may be entered. Williams, 802 F.2d at 1202-03. “Where, as here, the issue is determined on the basis of the pleadings and affidavits, that burden may be met by a prima facie showing.” Sharpshooter Spectrum Venture, LLC v. Consentino, No. 09-cv-0150-WDM-KLM, 2011 WL 3159094, at *2 (D. Colo. July 26, 2011) (citing Shrader v. Biddinger, 633 F.3d 1235, 1239 (10th Cir. 2011)).

         To establish personal jurisdiction in a diversity case, a plaintiff must show both that jurisdiction is proper under the forum state's long-arm statute and that exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant comports with the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Equifax Services, Inc. v. Hitz, 905 F.2d 1355, 1357 (10th Cir. 1990). Colorado's long-arm statute permits the Court to exercise personal jurisdiction to the full extent of the Due Process Clause so the analysis collapses into a single due process inquiry. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-1-124(1)(a)-(b); Dart Int'l, Inc. v. Interactive Target Sys., Inc., 877 F.Supp. 541, 543 (D. Colo. 1995) (citing Safari Outfitters, Inc. v. Superior Court, 167 Colo. 456 (1968)); SGI Air Holdings II LLC. v. Novartis Int'l, AG, 192 F.Supp.2d 1195, 1197-98 (D. Colo. 2002).

         “The Due Process Clause protects a [defendant's] liberty interest in not being subject to the binding judgments of a forum with which [it] has established no meaningful ‘contacts, ties, or relations.'” Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 471-72 (1985) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319 (1945)). To comport with due process limitations, a court may exercise personal jurisdiction only over defendants that have “certain minimum contacts [with the jurisdiction] . . . .” Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316 (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)).

         This minimum contacts standard may be satisfied in either of two ways-general or specific jurisdiction. See Kuenzle v. HTM Sport-Und Freizeitgerate AG, 102 F.3d 453, 455 (10th Cir. 1996). The court's duty is the same in either case: guarantee that the exercise of jurisdiction “does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 292 (1980) (quoting Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316) (internal quotation omitted).

         As pertinent there, specific jurisdiction exists if a three part inquiry is satisfied: “(1) the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of acting in Colorado or of causing important consequences in the state; (2) the cause of action arises from the consequences of the defendant's in-state activity; and (3) defendant's activities, or the consequences thereof, have a substantial enough connection with the forum state to make the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant reasonable.” Van Schaack & Co. v. Dist. ...


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