United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division
JENNIFER CHAMBERLIN, RYAN CHAMBERLIN, OLIVIA WOOTEN, STEVEN CRAIG, ANGELIQUE CRAIG and SPENCER CRAIG, Plaintiffs,
VENTURE RESORTS, INC., Defendant.
S. MOODY. JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
rented a cabin at Defendant's resort in Gatlinburg,
Tennessee. Plaintiffs allege Defendant was negligent for
failing to evacuate Plaintiffs from a wildfire that burned
the cabin shortly after Plaintiffs fled for their lives.
Defendant argues this Court lacks personal jurisdiction and
subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court agrees the Complaint
must be dismissed because Plaintiffs failed to plead a basis
for personal jurisdiction.
November 27, 2016, Plaintiffs checked into a cabin at
Defendant's resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The
following day, Plaintiffs say the air was smoky due to a
nearby wildfire. Plaintiffs called Defendant's office to
ask about the fire and see if Plaintiffs needed to evacuate.
Defendant assured Plaintiffs that the wildfire was contained
and that there was no need to evacuate. Plaintiffs contacted
Defendant's office another four times over the course of
the day and night and were assured that there was no need to
9:30 p.m. on November 28, 2016, Plaintiffs noticed there were
flames near the cabin, grabbed what belongings they could,
and fled. When Plaintiffs drove by Defendant's office
shortly after 10 p.m., Plaintiffs say Defendant's
employees had evacuated the office without notifying the
guests. During the drive to safety, Plaintiffs say flames
blazed on both sides of the road.
November 29, 2016, Plaintiffs learned the cabin in which they
had stayed burned, destroying the nearly $20, 000 in personal
property Plaintiffs left behind. Plaintiffs claim to have
suffered severe emotional distress.
March 15, 2017, Plaintiffs sued Defendant in this Court based
on diversity jurisdiction. The Complaint has two counts:
innkeeper liability (Count I), and gross negligence (Count
II). The only allegation regarding this Court's personal
jurisdiction over Defendant is as follows:
28. Defendant, VENTURE RESORTS, INC., is a Tennessee for
profit business, doing business as Gatlinburg Falls Resort,
located with its principle [sic] place of business in Sevier
(Doc. 1, ¶28).
TO DISMISS STANDARD
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a complaint to be
dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be
granted. When reviewing a motion to dismiss, courts must
limit their consideration to the well-pleaded allegations,
documents central to or referred to in the complaint, and
matters judicially noticed. See La Grasta v. First Union
Securities, Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004)
(internal citations omitted); Day v. Taylor, 400
F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2005). Courts must accept all
factual allegations contained in the complaint as true, and
view the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff.
See Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93-94.
conclusions, however, “are not entitled to the
assumption of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 664 (2009). In fact, “conclusory allegations,
unwarranted factual deductions or legal conclusions
masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.”
Davila v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 326 F.3d 1183, 1185
(11th Cir. 2003). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must instead contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). This plausibility
standard is met when the plaintiff pleads enough factual
content to allow the court “to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. (internal citations omitted).
argues the Complaint should be dismissed based on lack of
personal jurisdiction and lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. The Court will address the personal
jurisdiction argument, which is dispositive, since it is
straightforward and was raised by Defendant before the
subject-matter jurisdiction argument. Ruhrgas AG v.
Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 587-88, 119 S.Ct. 1563,
157-722, 143 L.Ed.2d 760 (1999) (“Where, as here,
however, a district court has before it a straightforward
personal jurisdiction issue presenting no complex question of
state law, and the alleged defect in subject-matter
jurisdiction raises a difficult and novel question, the ...