United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
JERRY R. STUART PLAINTIFF
LOWE'S HOME CENTERS, LLC, and LOWE'S HOME IMPROVEMENT, LLC DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCKLNLEY, JR., CHIEF JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss [DN 8]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for
decision. For the following reasons, the Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
Jerry Stuart brings this action against Defendants,
Lowe's Home Centers, LLC and Lowe's Home
Improvements, LLC. (Compl. [DN 1-2].) While the Court is to
only consider the pleadings at this stage of the litigation,
some additional documents the parties have filed will be
referenced so as to accurately describe the sequence of
December 9, 2016, Madisonville Police Officer Ethan Horne
responded to a call at a Lowe's store on Island Ford
Road. (KYIBRS Report [DN 8-2] at 3.) When he arrived,
Lowe's manager William Oldham told him that a small
plastic bag containing a crystal substance was discovered in
an aisle inside the store. (Id.) Officer Horne field
tested the substance and confirmed that it was
methamphetamine. (Id.) The next day, Officer Horne
returned to speak with Lowe's asset protection employee,
William Cooper. (Id.) Cooper shared the he was able
to locate the suspect who dropped the bag of drugs on video.
(Id.) Through footage from the surveillance camera,
Officer Horne observed a male in the aisle where the
methamphetamine was located. (Id.) The video showed
the subject in the aisle with no one else around him and the
bag of methamphetamine fall from his coat pocket onto the
ground. (Id.) Officer Horne asked Cooper to follow
the subject in order to determine whether he made a purchase.
(Id.) Surveillance video showed the subject
purchasing a screwdriver and some ballast. (Id.)
Cooper was able to obtain the information from the card used
to purchase said screwdriver and ballast and advised Officer
Horne that the card belonged to Philip Renfro. (Id.)
Horne went to Renfro's home that night to ask whether he
had been at Lowe's. (Id.) Renfro shared that he
had not been at Lowe's but rather, he had given his
credit card to a co-worker named Jerry Stuart in order to
purchase a screwdriver and a couple ballast. (Id.)
December 11, Officer Horne called Jerry Stuart at his home to
inquire about whether he had visited the Lowe's. (Compl.
[DN 1-2] ¶ 9.) Stuart admitted that he did go to
Lowe's in Madisonville, Kentucky, on December 9 to
purchase a ballast for his employer with a company credit
card. (Id. ¶ 6-7.) However, when Officer Horne
then proceeded to question him about the methamphetamine that
was discovered, Stuart denied the allegations and told
Officer Horne that he did not do drugs and the
methamphetamine was not his. (Id. ¶¶
Horne obtained a warrant for Stuart's arrest for
Possession of a Controlled Substance 1st Degree 1st Offense
(Methamphetamine) from the Hopkins County District Court.
(Warrant of Arrest [DN 8-5] at 1). On December 19, Stuart was
arrested at his place of business. (Compl. ¶ 12). He was
then taken into custody and later released on a personal
recognizance bond. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14). The
charge was later dismissed with prejudice on December 28.
(Id. ¶ 17).
12, 2017, Stuart filed this claim in Hopkins County Circuit
Court, alleging negligence, gross negligence, malicious
prosecution, slander, slander per se, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress by Defendants. (Id.
¶¶19-45.) Defendants removed the lawsuit to this
Court based on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C §
1332. (Notice of Removal [DN 1] at 3). Then, on July 7,
Defendants filed this Motion to Dismiss [DN 8]. Defendants
contend that the claims against Defendant Lowe's Home
Improvement, LLC must be dismiss based on Rule 12(b)(2) as
the court lacks personal jurisdiction. (Mot. to Dismiss [DN
8-1] at 7). Further, Defendants ask that all claims be
dismissed, alleging that the Stuart has failed to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted in accordance with
Rule 12(b)(6). (Id. at 9-19.)
first contend that this Court does not have proper personal
jurisdiction over one of the Defendants, Lowe's Home
Improvement, LLC. In a diversity case, a federal court
determines whether personal jurisdiction exists over a
non-resident defendant by applying the law of the state in
which it sits. Third Nat'l Bank v. WEDGE Group
Inc., 882 F.2d 1087, 1089 (6th Cir. 1989). The Court
applies a two-step inquiry to determine whether it may
exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant:
“(1) whether the law of the state in which the district
court sits authorizes jurisdiction, and (2) whether the
exercise of jurisdiction comports with the Due Process
Clause.” Brunner v. Hampson, 441 F.3d 457, 463
(6th Cir. 2006).
district court “rules on a jurisdictional motion to
dismiss made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2) without conducting an evidentiary hearing, the court
must consider the pleadings and affidavits in a light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” CompuServe, Inc. v.
Patterson, 89 F.3d 1257, 1262 (6th Cir. 1996). To defeat
this motion to dismiss, the plaintiff needs only to make a
prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Id.
Furthermore, the court must “not consider facts
proffered by the defendant that conflict with those offered
by the plaintiff.” Neogen Corp. v. Neo Gen
Screening, Inc., 282 F.3d 883, 887 (6th Cir. 2002).
first to Kentucky's long-arm statute, the Kentucky
Supreme Court has found that the statute requires a two-prong
showing before a court can exercise personal jurisdiction
over a non-resident. Caesars Riverboat Casino, LLC v.
Beach, 336 S.W.3d 51, 57 (Ky. 2011). First, the Court
must find that a non-resident's conduct or activities
fall within one of nine enumerated provisions in KRS 454.210.
If this first prong is satisfied, then the second prong
requires the Court to determine if the plaintiff's claim
arises from the Defendants' actions. See K.R.S. §
454.210(2)(b) (“When jurisdiction over a person is
based solely upon this section, only a claim arising from
acts enumerated in this section may be asserted against
him.”). This requires a showing of “a reasonable
and direct nexus between the wrongful acts alleged in the
complaint and the statutory predicate for long-arm
jurisdiction[.]” Caesars, 336 S.W.3d at 59.
This analysis should be undertaken on a case by case basis,
“giving the benefit of the doubt in favor of
Complaint, Stuart asserts the following as proof that
Defendant Lowe's Home Improvement is subject to personal
jurisdiction in Kentucky: “Defendant, Lowe's Home
Improvements, LLC . . . . is registered to do business in the
Commonwealth of Kentucky, with its registered agent being
Corporation Service Company, 421 West Main Street, Frankfort,
Kentucky.” (Compl. ¶ 4). The Court finds that this
does not make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction as it
neither invokes any of the ...