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Hunter v. Serv-Tech

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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ first complaint for insufficiency of service of process. Defendants included language in the motion that objected to the court’s jurisdiction and also reserved future rights to challenge personal and subject matter jurisdiction and raise other defenses. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Defendant answered the amended complaint. Defendants’ first motion to dismiss was denied. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that they lacked minimum contacts with the forum. Plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that Defendants waived personal jurisdiction defenses.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The defense of lack of personal jurisdiction must be raised by a motion that requests the court to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, along with any other 12(b)(2) – (5) defenses; it cannot be “reserved” for later argument.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

A defendant wishing to raise an improper venue defense must do so in their first defensive move, be it a Rule 12 motion or a responsive pleading.

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Facts.

Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendants in November 2007.  Defendants moved to dismiss the first complaint for insufficiency of service of process in June 2008. In their motion, Defendants included  language that objected to the court’s jurisdiction and purported to reserve future rights to challenge personal and subject matter jurisdiction and raise other defenses. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in July 2008. Defendant answered the amended complaint in September 2008. Defendants’ first motion to dismiss was denied. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that it lacked minimum contacts with the forum. Plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that Defendants waived their objections to personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(g)(2) and 12(h)(1).

Issue.

Is including language in a motion that informs the court that a party reserves a personal jurisdiction defense for argument on a later motion sufficient to prevent waiver of the defense?

Held.

No. The defense of lack of personal jurisdiction must be raised by a motion that requests the court to dismiss for lack ofpersonal jurisdiction, along with any other 12(b)(2) – (5) defenses.

Discussion.

The plain language of Rules 12(h)(1) and 12(g)(2) , along with Advisory Committee notes to Rule 12(g)(2) support the ruling against allowing a litigant to “reserve” a right to raise a Rule 12(b)(2) – (5) defense for later argument in a motion to dismiss.


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