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Pelvic Floor Centers of America, LLC v. Magic Race, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

February 7, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 13) filed by Defendants The Balanced Body Center, P.A. (henceforth, “Balanced Body”) and Philip A. Arnone (“Arnone”) (collectively, the “Movants”) and the response in opposition (Doc. 19) filed by the Plaintiff, Pelvic Floor Centers of America, LLC (“PFCA”). On September 26, 2017, the Court granted PFCA's request for jurisdictional discovery. (Doc. 25). The Movants (Doc. 26) and PFCA (Doc. 27) have filed supplements to their motion and response, respectively, which the Court has also considered in resolving the instant motion.

         I. Background

         The Plaintiff is a Florida limited liability company with its primary place of business in Winter Park. (Doc. 1 at 1). Defendant Arnone is a resident of North Carolina. (Doc. 1 at 2). He is the sole shareholder and officer of Defendant Balanced Body, a North Carolina entity with its principal place of business in that state. (Doc. 1 at 2). Arnone is a chiropractor, operating a medical facility through Balanced Body. (Doc. 12 at 3).

         Defendant Michael Jordan (“Jordan”) holds the patent for a medical device known as the “ExMi Pelvic Floor Therapy Chair” (henceforth, the “Therapy Chair”). (Doc. 1 at 3). He also owns and manages Defendants ExMi Fit, LLC (“ExMi Fit”) and Magic Race, LLC (“Magic Race”). (Doc. 1 at 3). Jordan, through Magic, granted an exclusive licensing agreement for the Therapy Chair to PFCA. (Doc. 1 t 3). On January 10, 2017, Jordan notified PFCA that the exclusive licensing agreement was being terminated. (Doc. 1 at 5). PFCA contends that Jordan did so to allow Arnone and Balanced Body to market and sell the Therapy Chair. (Doc. 1 at 5).

         PFCA filed the instant suit on May 19, 2017. (Doc. 1). In Counts IV and V, it asserts a claim against Arnone and Balanced Body, respectively for tortious interference with a business relationship. (Doc. 1 at 9, 11). In Count VI, it asserts a claim for conspiracy to commit tortious interference against Arnone, Balanced Body, Jordan and ExMi Fit. (Doc. 1 at 12). PFCA also asserts claims for an accounting and injunctive relief against Arnone and Balanced Body. (Doc. 1 at

         By way of the instant motion, Defendants Arnone and Balanced Body seek dismissal of these claims on the grounds that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them.

         II. Legal Standards

         To determine whether it possesses personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, a district court must undertake a two-part analysis. First, the court must determine whether the forum state's long-arm statute provides a basis for personal jurisdiction. If so, the court must then determine whether sufficient minimum contacts exist between the defendants and the forum state so as to satisfy “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice” under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Robinson v. Giarmarco & Bill, P.C., 74 F.3d 253, 256 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting International Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945) (quotation omitted)).

         When a defendant challenges personal jurisdiction by submitting affidavit evidence in support of its position, the burden traditionally shifts back to the plaintiff to produce evidence supporting jurisdiction. Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Mosseri, 736 F.3d 1339, 1350 (11th Cir. 2013). The burden does not return to the plaintiff when the defendant's affidavits contain only conclusory assertions that the defendant is not subject to jurisdiction. Id. If the burden does shift back to the plaintiff, then the plaintiff must provide enough information concerning the nonresident defendant's contacts with the forum to withstand a motion for a directed verdict. Meier ex rel. Meier v. Sun Int'l Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d 1264, 1268-69 (11th Cir. 2002). A district court must view the jurisdictional evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Meier, 288 F.3d at 1269.

         III. Analysis

         PFCA alleges that Arnone and Balanced Body, acting outside of Florida, tortiously interfered with its licensing agreement, thereby causing PFCA to suffer an injury in Florida. In pertinent part, Florida's long-arm statute provides that

(1) Any 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 … to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state for any cause ...

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