United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
William J. Thomas, Plaintiff,
Christine M. Dykstra, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ZOUHARY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
action was removed from state court (Doc.1). Pending before
this Court are Defendants Christine and Steven Dykstra's
Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction under
Federal Civil Rule 12 (b)(2) (Docs. 3, 4). Plaintiff William
Thomas filed a Combined Opposition (Doc. 7). The Dykstras
filed separate Replies (Docs. 8, 9), and a joint Surreply
(Doc. 11). After an evidentiary hearing, this matter is now
facts of this case are somewhat unique: Thomas is the father
of Christine Dykstra, and the father-in-law of Steven
Dykstra. Although there are disputed facts, they primarily
relate to liability rather than this Court's personal
jurisdiction. Here are the undisputed facts, drawn from the
Complaint (Doc. 1-2), the Dykstras' affidavits (Docs.
3-1, 4-1), and the evidentiary hearing (Docs. 10, 13; Hearing
Dykstras reside in Florida, after moving there in 2015-16
from Texas (Doc. 3-1 at 1; Doc. 4-1 at 1). Neither Defendant
has resided or worked in Ohio for over twenty-five years, and
their only contact with Ohio during that time was the
occasional phone call, e-mail, and visit to Christine's
family members (Doc. 3-1 at 1; Doc. 4-1 at 1). The only
alleged contacts relevant to this dispute are a few phone
calls between Christine and her father, and a few e-mails
between Christine and her sisters (Doc.1-2 at ¶¶
2-5; Doc. 3-1 at 1-2).
2015, Christine reached out to her father about relocating to
Florida due to concerns about her mother's health and his
ability to care for her without assistance (Doc.1-2 at
¶¶ 2-3; Doc. 3-1 at 1). Christine made the call
after she and her sisters discussed their concerns about
their parents and possible care arrangements, ultimately
agreeing that the best option was to propose they join
Christine and her family in Florida (Doc. 3-1 at 1). During
the call with her father, Christine allegedly promised to
help care for her parents and build her father a woodworking
shop once he arrived in Florida (Doc.1-2 at ¶¶
4-5). In exchange, her parents would contribute to the
purchase of the Florida home from the sale proceeds of their
Ohio home (id. at ¶ 5; Doc. 3-1 at 1). There is
no allegation that Steven participated in these discussions,
other than generally agreeing that his wife's parents
could move in with his family.
weeks later, Thomas called Christine to inform her he had
decided to make the move (Doc. 3-1 at 1). In early 2016, he
sold his Ohio home and most of his personal belongings
without any input from his children and, in fact, contrary to
Christine's suggestion that he wait until her family
completed their move to Florida to avoid having to relocate
twice (Doc.1-2 at ¶ 6; Doc. 3-1 at 1-2). Thomas and his
wife then joined Christine in Texas before all parties moved
to Florida (Doc.1-2 at ¶ 7; Doc. 3-1 at 2).
the exact details are unclear, at some point Christine and
her father opened a joint bank account. Steven was not named
on the account (Doc.1-2 at ¶ 5; Doc. 13-1 at 1). The
Complaint alleges Christine requested an account be opened
“to help with the expense of housing her parents”
(Doc.1-2 at ¶ 5), while Christine says the account was
created because her father did not want to continue writing
checks or tracking his bills (Doc. 3-1 at 2). Regardless of
its exact intended purpose, the account was clearly opened in
Texas (id. at 2; Doc. 13-1 at 1), and money was not
withdrawn from it until after Thomas resided in Texas
(see Doc. 13-1; Tr. at 5-7). Eventually, $109,
674.05 from this account was transferred to the Sun Trust
Bank to help purchase the Florida home (Doc 1-2 at ¶ 8;
Tr. at 3).
parties agree their relationship declined after the
parties resided together in Florida (Doc 1-2 at ¶ 9;
Doc. 3-1 at 2). As promised, Thomas was provided a residence
with his woodworking shop (Doc. 3-1 at 2). The parties
dispute why, and upon whose insistence, Thomas left Florida.
Unbeknownst to his daughter or son-in-law, Thomas returned to
Ohio and then filed this lawsuit (id. at 2-3).
Thomas claims unjust enrichment and promissory estoppel. He
does not allege fraud or misrepresentation.
carries the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is
proper “over each defendant independently.”
Days Inns Worldwide, Inc. v. Patel, 445 F.3d 899,
904 (6th Cir. 2006). Thomas has not submitted his own
affidavit, but relies on the allegations in the Complaint,
the Dykstras' affidavits, and bank records provided at
this Court's request.
exact burden placed on Thomas depends on whether an
evidentiary hearing was held. When no evidentiary hearing is
held, only a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction is
required, and the pleadings and affidavits are viewed in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. Neogen Corp. v.
Neo Gen Screening, Inc., 282 F.3d 883, 887 (6th Cir.
2002). But when an evidentiary hearing is held, the plaintiff
must establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence. Youn v. Track, Inc., 324 F.3d 409, 417
(6th Cir. 2003). This Court heard arguments and ...