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Strickland v. Bae Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems, Lp

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 10, 2013

ROBERT STRICKLAND, an individual, and MARVELOUS STRICKLAND, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
BAE SYSTEMS TACTICAL VEHICLE SYSTEMS, LP, a Delaware Limited Partnership authorized to do business in the State of Texas; ALAN STALLINGS, an individual; GUS SALDIVAR, an individual; and DOES 1 through 20, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 5). Plaintiffs Robert and Marvelous Strickland brought this suit against BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems, LP ("BAE-TVS"), a Delaware limited partnership doing business in Texas; Alan Stallings, a resident of Texas; and Gus Saldivar, also a resident of Texas, to redress torts the defendants allegedly committed in Kuwait. The defendants argue that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them, and move to dismiss this case. Because the Stricklands have not shown that any of the defendants have sufficient minimum contacts with Idaho, the Court agrees that it does not have personal jurisdiction over the defendants. However, rather than dismiss this case, the Court grants the Stricklands' request to transfer this case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, where jurisdiction is proper.

BACKGROUND

BAE-TVS is a Delaware limited partnership licensed to do business in Texas. BAE-TVS produces and services armored combat and tactical vehicles for the U.S. military. Although the record is not entirely clear, it appears that BAE-TVS is part of BAE Systems, Inc.'s ("BAE Systems") family of military support businesses. See Lacy-Crow Aff. I, dkt. 6-4, ¶2. Also within BAE Systems' family are BAE Systems Technology & Services Inc. ("BAE-TSS") and BAE Systems Information Solutions Inc. ("BAE-IS"). See Lacy-Crow Aff. II, dkt. 15-1, ¶¶ 2-3.

BAE-TSS is a Delaware corporation which "provides a range of technical and engineering services" to meet the Defense Department's and federal agencies' "needs in readiness and sustainment and operational support across the land, aviation, maritime and C4ISR domains." Id. ¶5. BAE-IS is a Virginia corporation which manages network and IT operations for its government customers. Both BAE-TSS and BAE-IS are registered to do business in Idaho. However, neither BAE-TSS nor BAE-IS produces or services armored vehicles, and they do not share management or employees with BAE-TVS.

Currently, Robert Strickland and his wife Marvelous reside in Blackfoot, Idaho. Strickland[1] is a certified welding inspector, and beginning in March, 2012, BAE-TVS contracted[2] with Robert to inspect the welds on the armored vehicles that BAE-TVS was servicing for the military in Kuwait.[3] This position required Strickland to be stationed in Kuwait throughout his employment with BAE-TVS.

While in Kuwait, Strickland lived with Allan Stallings, his immediate supervisor, in an apartment arranged for by BAE-TVS. Stallings is openly gay. According to the first amended complaint, upon Strickland's arrival in Kuwait, Stallings "immediately" began making sexual advances toward Strickland and engaged in other harassing behavior. When Marvelous, who was Strickland's fiancee at the time, visited Strickland, Stallings directed his allegedly inappropriate behavior toward her as well.

Despite Strickland's requests for Stallings to stop the alleged harassment, Stallings persisted in his course of behavior. As a result, Strickland took his case to BAE-TVS's Kuwait site lead, Gus Saldivar. Saldivar told Strickland that Stallings' conduct would not be tolerated and that he would arrange for an alternative residence for Strickland during the remainder of his stay in Kuwait. Shortly after the meeting with Saldivar, Strickland left Kuwait for the Philippines on an approved vacation, so that he and Marvelous could wed. During his trip, Strickland received an email from BAE-TVS terminating his employment.

After exhausting his case with the EEOC and receiving his right-to-sue letter on November 21, 2012, the Stricklands filed suit against BAE-TVS, Stallings, and Saldivar in Idaho state court. Robert Strickland alleges four claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, one claim of assault and battery, and one claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Marvelous Strickland alleges one claim of assault, one claim of sexual harassment, and one claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. All of the Stricklands' claims stem from the events in Kuwait.

The defendants removed the case to this Court. They now move to dismiss the case for (1) lack of personal jurisdiction and (2), in the event the Court determines that the defendants are subject to its jurisdiction, for failure to state a claim. The Stricklands argue that BAE-TVS is subject to this Court's jurisdiction but do not argue that Stallings and Saldivar may be sued in Idaho. The Stricklands request that, in the event the Court concludes that it does not have personal jurisdiction over BAE-TVS, the Court transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. It is uncontested that the Southern District of Texas has jurisdiction over all of the defendants.

Although the defendants request a hearing, the Court concludes that the parties' motions are suitable for resolution without a hearing. As explained below, the Court agrees that it lacks personal jurisdiction over all of the defendants. However, because Strickland would likely be time barred from refiling his Title VII claims if the Court were to dismiss this case, the Court will transfer this case to the Southern District of Texas.

ANALYSIS

1. Personal ...


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