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Bell v. Arruda

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 7, 2014

RICHARD N. BELL, Plaintiff,
MARK ARRUDA, Defendant.



This matter is before the Court on Defendant Mark Arruda's ("Mr. Arruda") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Richard N. Bell's ("Mr. Bell") complaint on the basis of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim (Dkt. 6). Finding the Court lacks personal jurisdiction, and alternatively, that Mr. Bell has failed to state a claim for relief, Mr. Arruda's Motion is GRANTED.


Mr. Bell owns the copyright to a photograph of the Indianapolis skyline ("Indianapolis Photo") that he took in March 2000. It was first published on the website "Webshots" on August 29, 2000, and has been recently published on Mr. Bell's personal website. It was registered on August 4, 2011, with the United States Copyright Office. Mr. Bell alleges that each Defendant downloaded or took the Indianapolis Photo without his permission for use on Defendants' websites for commercial use. Mr. Bell notified Defendants of the alleged infringing use and demanded payment.

Mr. Arruda is a citizen of the State of Massachusetts. He is the operator of "", out of his home in Massachusetts. The website is an image-sharing website whereby users upload photographs to share. Users must declare that they own the images they upload. On June 22, 2011, Mr. Bell informed Mr. Arruda that he owned the copyright to the Indianapolis Photo that was uploaded to Mr. Arruda immediately removed the photograph from the website and told Mr. Bell such. Mr. Arruda does not know who uploaded the photograph.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) requires dismissal of a claim where personal jurisdiction is lacking. After the defendant moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2), "the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the existence of jurisdiction." Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). The extent of plaintiff's burden is dependent upon the method in which the court determines the issue of personal jurisdiction. Id. Where, as here, the court determines personal jurisdiction based only on reference to submissions of written materials, the plaintiff simply needs to make a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. GCIU-Employer Ret. Fund v. Goldfarb Corp., 565 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 2009). In determining whether the plaintiff has met the prima facie standard, the plaintiff is entitled to a favorable resolution of all disputed relevant facts. uBID, Inc. v. GoDaddy Grp., Inc., 623 F.3d 421, 423-24 (7th Cir. 2010). If the defendant has submitted evidence in opposition to the implementation of jurisdiction, however, "the plaintiff must go beyond the pleadings and submit affirmative evidence supporting the exercise of jurisdiction." Purdue, 338 F.3d at 782-83.

When reviewing a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court takes all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draws all inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Bielanski v. Cnty. of Kane, 550 F.3d 632, 633 (7th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). However, the allegations must "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests" and the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Stated differently, the complaint must include "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must allow "the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).


A. Review of Magistrate Judge's Decision

As an initial matter, Mr. Bell's request to review the Magistrate Judge's decision that is contained within his Response in Opposition (Dkt. 9) will not be considered by the Court. Local Rule 7-1 states, "A motion must not be contained within a brief, response, or reply to a previously filed motion, unless ordered by the Court." Although pro se filings are to be construed liberally, Mr. Bell is a licensed attorney in the State of Indiana, and signs his pleadings with his attorney number and law firm name. Mr. Bell's request is related to his Response, but seeks additional and independent measures, which is governed by a separate procedure. Given the errors in form, the Court will not decide Mr. Bell's collateral request. See Local Rule 1-3.

B. Personal Jurisdiction

A district court must undertake and satisfy a two-step analysis in order to properly exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. First, the exercise of personal jurisdiction must comport with the state's long-arm statute; second, the exercise must comport with the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. Purdue, 338 F.3d at 779. Because Indiana's long-arm statute, Indiana Rule of Trial Procedure 4.4(a), "reduce[s] analysis of personal jurisdiction to the issue of whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction is consistent with the [f]ederal Due Process Clause, " the Court only needs to consider the second step of the analysis. LinkAmerica Corp. v. Albert, 857 N.E.2d 961, 967 (Ind. 2006).

Due process requires that the defendant have "certain minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Id. (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). These minimum contacts "must have a basis in some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum [s]tate, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.'" Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Super. Ct. of Cal., Solano Cnty., 480 U.S. 102, 109 (1987) (quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985)). Such purposeful ...

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