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3D Systems Corp. v. Miller

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

June 29, 2018

3D SYSTEMS CORP., Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff, 3D Systems Corp., brought this suit against its former employee, Paul Miller, and Miller's then-current employer, Union Tech, Inc. Four months later, 3D Systems amended its complaint to join RP Sales America, Inc. as a defendant. RP Sales now moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction is DENIED.

         I. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         An action may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) due to lack of personal jurisdiction. A plaintiff's complaint need not contain facts alleging personal jurisdiction. Steel Warehouse of Wisconsin, Inc. v. Leach, 154 F.3d 712, 715 (7th. Cir. 1998). However, if a defendant moves to dismiss the complaint due to lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is proper. Id. The precise nature of this burden will vary depending upon whether the court relies on an evidentiary hearing or the submission of written materials. Purdue Research Foundation v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003).

         In the instant case, the court relies entirely on the submission of written materials. Accordingly, Plaintiff “need[s] to only make out a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction.” Hyatt Int'l. Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002). In evaluating whether the prima facie standard has been satisfied, “all disputes concerning relevant facts presented in the record” are resolved in favor of Plaintiff. Nelson by Carson v. Park Industries, Inc., 717 F.2d 1120, 1123 (7th Cir. 1983).

         II. Facts

         The court accepts the following facts as true for purposes of the present motion.

         RP Sales is an Iowa corporation that was formed in July 2016 for the express purpose of serving as a distributor for Union Tech, a 3D printing company that competes with 3D Systems. (Filing No. 87, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4, 14, 15). Paul Miller is a former employee of 3D Systems who was hired by Union Tech as the Director of Sales for North America. (Id. ¶ 71).

         During his employment with 3D Systems, Miller had access to a variety of confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information, including the identities of actual and potential customers. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24). Miller executed an Employment Confidentiality and Non-Solitication and Arbitration Agreement in which he agreed not to disclose this confidential information to third parties. (Id. ¶¶ 29-30). Plaintiff alleges Miller violated this agreement by sharing important confidential information with RP Sales and Union Tech. (Id. ¶¶ 83-84).

         RP Sales sells its products in states across the country, including Indiana. (Filing No. 113-1, Declaration of Daniel Terpstra (“Terpstra Decl.”) ¶ 6). Although RP Sales has never sold a Union Tech product in Indiana, the company has attempted to do so. (Filing No. 120-1, Declaration of Paul Miller (“Miller Decl.”) ¶¶ 4-6). For example, an RP Sales representative sent Miller a “pipeline” of the company's sales efforts with a variety of prospective Union Tech customers. (Id. ¶ 5). This pipeline indicated the desire of RP Sales to work with one of Miller's former Indiana-based contacts for Valeo-Group (“Valeo”) regarding the potential purchase of Union Tech printers. (Id.). In addition, RP Sales hired Aaron Pullen, who had previously worked for Miller and listed Miller as a reference on his resume, as an independent contractor to promote the sales of its products in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. (Filing No. 121-5, Independent Contractor Agreement; Filing No. 121-3 Email re: Summary 8/25/17). Pullen then requested Miller's assistance regarding a sales opportunity with Delta Faucet Company, an Indiana-based company with which Miller had previously worked. (Miller Decl. ¶ 6).

         III. Discussion

         This court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant when two criteria are met. Purdue, 338 F.3d at 779. First, personal jurisdiction over the defendant must be authorized under the law of Indiana. Id. Second, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant must be consistent with the requirements of federal due process. Id. Because Indiana Rule of Trial Procedure 4.4(a) extends personal jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by federal due process, this court need only address whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Defendant would be inconsistent with federal due process.

         The Due Process Clause of the Federal Constitution limits when a court may exercise personal jurisdiction based upon a defendant's connections to the forum state. For example, a defendant must “have certain minimum contacts” with the state “such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)).

         The “minimum contacts” analysis differs based upon whether a court is exercising general or specific personal jurisdiction. General jurisdiction requires a defendant to have continuous and systematic contacts with the forum state. Purdue, 338 F.3d at 787. This more stringent test “allows a defendant to be sued in the forum regardless of the subject matter of the litigation.” Id. In contrast, specific jurisdiction only “exists for controversies that arise out of or are related to the ...

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