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Hastings v. Inmate Services Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

November 6, 2017

DAVID HASTINGS, Plaintiff,
v.
INMATE SERVICES CORPORATION, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHH E. STEELE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on defendant's Motion to Dismiss or Transfer Due to Improper Venue and/or Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. #12). Defendant submitted an Affidavit attached to the motion (Doc. #12-1). Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. #13) and a Request For Judicial Notice (Doc. #14)[1] of certain screenshots of defendant's company website. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss or transfer is denied and the motion for judicial notice is granted.

         I.

         The Complaint alleges that defendant Inmate Services Corporation (ISC), a citizen of Arkansas, contracts with governmental entities to transport inmates throughout the United States for extradition proceedings. (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 3, 5.) On or about April 5, 2014, ISC picked up plaintiff David Hastings (plaintiff or Hastings) in Orange County, California for extradition to Florida on an outstanding warrant which had been filed in Lee County, Florida, for violation of a No Contact Order. (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 16-18.) Plaintiff infers ISC was to transport plaintiff pursuant to an agreement between ISC and the State of Florida and/or local Florida law enforcement officials in Lee County.[2] (Id. at ¶¶ 7-9.) Plaintiff's trip ultimately took 15 days, covered 15, 000 miles, and traversed 31 states before arriving in Florida. (Id. at ¶ 25.)

         Two ISC employees were in charge of plaintiff's care, custody, and control while he was being transported. (Doc. #1, ¶ 24.) Prior to beginning the transport, ISC refused to allow plaintiff to acquire his clothing and medications for the cross-country trip, despite the fact that plaintiff had suffered a heart attack on or about March 23, 3014, and had spent five days in the hospital. (Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.) Plaintiff was handcuffed, shackled, and placed in ISC's van for extradition across the country clothed in a paper jumpsuit only. (Id. at ¶¶ 23-24.) Plaintiff remained handcuffed and shackled for the duration of the trip. (Id. at ¶ 26.)

         The van had a maximum capacity of 13 inmates, but ISC provided two egg crates within the van for two additional inmates, filling the van to maximum capacity. (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 27-29.) Plaintiff was provided minimal food, and was denied medical care and bathroom breaks, losing 35 pounds during the 15-day trip. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-34.)

         Approximately 50 hours after the ride began, somewhere near Denver, Colorado, plaintiff started bleeding from his rectum, and informed the van's driver. (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 35-36.) Plaintiff requested to be taken to a hospital, but ISC employees denied the request and the group continued on their trip. (Id. at ¶ 37.)

         The van dropped off and picked up inmates throughout the trip, traveling through the midwest to Chicago, and then to Minnesota and Wisconsin. (Doc. #1, ¶ 39.) During a blizzard in Minnesota, the van slid off the road into a frozen pond due to careless driving. (Id. at ¶ 40.) Highway patrol officers pulled over the van for speeding in three different states. (Id. at ¶ 41.)

         On or about April 18, 2014, in New York, plaintiff experienced rapid heartbeat syncope and passed out. (Doc. #1, ¶ 42.) ISC's employees called their dispatch and were told not to take plaintiff to the emergency room. (Id. at ¶ 43.) Plaintiff was eventually taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in York, New York, dehydrated and suffering from bed sores and an abnormal EKG. (Id. at ¶ 45.) After he was stabilized, plaintiff was placed back in the ISC van, headed for Florida. (Id.)

         Plaintiff arrived in Lee County, Florida on April 20, 2014, and was placed on the medical floor of the Lee County Jail. Plaintiff was given medical treatment due his debilitated condition and serious medical problems, including malnutrition, dehydration, mental anguish, and weight loss. (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 47-49.)

         The three-count Complaint (Doc. #1) alleges state law claims of negligence (Count I) and negligent hiring and retention (Count II), although it is unclear which state or states' law plaintiff asserts apply to these claims. Plaintiff also states a federal claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count III) for the lack of constitutionally adequate medical care. The Complaint premises subject-matter jurisdiction on both diversity of citizenship and federal question jurisdiction. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-13.)

         II.

         ISC moves to dismiss the Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue.[3] Plaintiff opposes both aspects of the motion.

         A. Personal Jurisdiction

         "A federal district court in Florida may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to the same extent that a Florida court may, so long as the exercise is consistent with federal due process requirements. If both Florida law and the United States Constitution permit, the federal district may exercise jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant." Licciardello v. Lovelady, 544 F.3d 1280, 1283 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal citation omitted) . Defendant asserts that neither component of this standard is satisfied in this case.

         (1) Florida Long Arm Statute

         Plaintiff has not been very clear as to which portions of the Florida "long arm" statute he relies upon for the assertion of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff's Response contains verbiage which is only contained in the general jurisdiction provision of the statute (Fla. Stat. § 48.193(2)), but also states "[i]n the instant case, the concern is the exercise of specific jurisdiction over the Defendant." (Doc. #13, pp. 5, 8.) If plaintiff really intends to assert general jurisdiction, the argument is rejected. Plaintiff has clearly not satisfied the standard for such all-purpose jurisdiction over a non-Florida corporation. Wolf v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., 683 Fed.Appx. 786, 791-92 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing cases) .

         The only seemingly relevant portions of the Florida Long Arm Statute relate to specific jurisdiction and provide:

(1) (a) A person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this state, who personally or through an agent does any of the acts enumerated in this subsection thereby submits himself or herself and, if he or she is a natural person, his or her personal representative to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state for any cause of action arising from the doing of any of the following acts:
1. Operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business or business venture in this state or having an ...

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