may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Michael D. Trost,
Aerodyne Research Corporation,
Filed March 30, 1999
Redwood County District Court
File No. C998224
Joel A. Solie, Estebo, Schnobrich, Frank, Solie & Gilk, Ltd., P.O. Box 377, Redwood Falls, MN 56283 (for respondent)
Jeanne H. Unger, Kathy S. Kimmel, Rider, Bennett, Egan & Arundel, L.L.P., 2000 Metropolitan Centre, 333 South Seventh St., Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Davies, Judge.
This is an appeal from an order denying appellant's motion to dismiss either for lack of personal jurisdiction or under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Finding no jurisdiction, we reverse.
During the early 1990s, and somewhere outside Minnesota, respondent Michael D. Trost met William Hazlett, president of appellant Aerodyne Research Corporation. Respondent gave Hazlett a copy of his resume, hoping to obtain a job. Appellant is a Florida corporation that sells skydiving equipment by mail order. Appellant has no office or staff in Minnesota.
In 1996, Hazlett notified respondent that appellant might have a job for him. Respondent visited appellant's Florida plant, with appellant paying half the cost of the visit. During the Florida trip, and later by telephone, the parties negotiated terms of employment. During one telephone call, respondent asked appellant to put its job offer in writing. In September 1996, appellant mailed an offer to respondent in Minnesota. In October, respondent quit his job in Minnesota and moved to Florida to work for appellant. Respondent was discharged on his fifth day of work.
Respondent sued appellant, in Minnesota, alleging that the discharge breached his employment contract. Appellant moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction or under the equitable doctrine of forum non conveniens. The district court denied appellant's motion and this appeal followed.
"An order denying a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is appealable as of right." Stanek v. A.P.I., Inc., 474 N.W.2d 829, 831 (Minn. App. 1991), review denied (Minn. Oct. 31, 1991). In determining personal jurisdiction, the court must assume the facts alleged by respondent. Hunt v. Nevada State Bank, 285 Minn. 77, 82, 172 N.W.2d 292, 296 (1969). This makes the existence of personal jurisdiction a question of law, subject to de novo review. Stanek, 474 N.W.2d at 832.
A Minnesota court may assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation under Minnesota's long-arm statute. Minn. Stat. § 543.19, subd. 1 (1998). "If the personal jurisdiction requirements of the federal constitution are met, the requirements of the long-arm statute will necessarily be met also." Valspar Corp. v. Lukken Color Corp., 495 N.W.2d 408, 411 (Minn. 1992).
To ensure due process, jurisdiction may not be asserted against a nonresident defendant unless the nonresident has minimum contacts with the forum state such that it "purposefully avails itself" of the laws of the state. Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253, 78 S. Ct. 1228, 1240 (1958). In determining the existence of minimum contacts, the court considers: (1) the quantity of contacts; (2) the nature and quality of the contacts; (3) the relationship between the cause of action and the contacts; (4) the state's interest in providing a forum; and (5) the convenience of the parties. Dent-Air, Inc. v. Beech Mountain Air Serv., 332 N.W.2d 904, 907 (Minn. 1983). The analysis primarily focuses on the first three factors. Id.
Personal jurisdiction may be general or specific. General jurisdiction exists when the defendant has "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum state, such that the defendant could reasonably expect to be subject to jurisdiction in the forum for proceedings unrelated to its contacts. Valspar, 495 N.W.2d at 411; Behm v. John Nuveen & Co., 555 N.W.2d 301, 306 (Minn. App. 1996). Specific jurisdiction exists when the plaintiff's claim arises from the defendant's contacts with the forum state. Behm, 555 N.W.2d at 306.
Appellant is not subject to general jurisdiction in Minnesota. Appellant's national magazine advertisements and responses to inquiries are not contacts significant enough to create general jurisdiction. See Jenson v. R.L.K. & Co., 534 N.W.2d 719, 724 (Minn. App. 1995) (general advertisements circulated in forum state and responses to inquiries from forum state are not sufficient contacts), review denied (Minn. Sept. 20, 1995). Nor are appellant's sales to Minnesota residents sufficient for general jurisdiction because appellant did not specifically solicit Minnesota business and has no presence in Minnesota. See id. at 723 (no general jurisdiction over nonresident corporation that did not specifically solicit Minnesota business, did not have office in Minnesota, and did not send representatives to Minnesota to conduct business).
Specific jurisdiction is, however, a closer question. A significant factor in determining whether specific jurisdiction exists is which party initiated Minnesota contacts, thus indicating "purposeful availment." See Dent-Air, Inc., 332 N.W.2d at 907-908 (aggressiveness of nonresident in negotiations is crucial in finding personal jurisdiction when contractual negotiations are alleged to provide minimum contacts).
Appellant argues that respondent initiated contact with it and that appellant's subsequent contacts with Minnesota were minimal. We agree, for it is reasonable to characterize respondent as the initiator of this relationship. Respondent, while outside Minnesota, gave Hazlett a resume and asked him for a job. Appellant merely replied to respondent's requests by calling respondent and sending the letter. No officer or agent of appellant traveled to this state.
Minnesota has no jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant whose contacts with the state are merely accommodations to a Minnesota resident who has taken the initiative and driven negotiations with the nonresident. Fourth N.W. Nat'l Bank v. Hilson Indus. Inc., 264 Minn. 110, 117-18, 117 N.W.2d 732, 736 (1962). Appellant did not purposefully avail itself of Minnesota laws by negotiating with respondent.
Minnesota's interest in providing a forum for the litigation and the convenience of the parties also cannot establish jurisdiction. See Schermerhorn v. Hoiland, 337 N.W.2d 692, 693 (Minn. 1983) (neither Minnesota's interest in providing forum nor trial convenience is a "contact" that can establish jurisdiction). Considering all of the factors, appellant did not have sufficient minimum contacts to fairly be subject to jurisdiction in Minnesota.
There being no jurisdiction, it is unnecessary for us to reach the issue of forum non conveniens.