Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
June 10, 2021, Filed
[*348] DON R. WILLETT, Circuit Judge:
In this case, a Texas company has twice sued a California state agency, arguing that the agency cannot enforce California regulations in Texas. The issue before us is whether the agency's sending a letter to the company in Texas, regarding penalties and inspections related to violations of California law, creates minimum contacts that establish personal jurisdiction in Texas courts. The district court concluded that it does not. We affirm.
Plaintiff Bulkley & Associates, LLC is a Hopkins County, Texas, company that transports refrigerated goods interstate. In 2015, a Bulkley truck driver fell off a truck and was injured while delivering goods to a customer in Salinas, [**2] California. Defendant Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the State of California, cited Bulkley and assessed penalties for three violations of California health and safety law: (1) failing to timely report an injury to California authorities, (2) failing to develop an injury-prevention program compliant with California law, and (3) failing to require foot protection in accordance with California law.1 Bulkley pursued administrative appeals in California, disputing the Department's authority to require Bulkley to comply with California law.2 Bulkley lost [*349] and has since filed two lawsuits challenging the Department's authority, Bulkley I and Bulkley II. Bulkley II is before us today, but the issues in Bulkley II are intertwined with those in Bulkley I, so we start there.
Bulkley I began in 2018, when Bulkley filed a petition for mandamus in Hopkins County court, seeking judicial review of the California administrative appeal that Bulkley lost.3 The Department removed the petition to federal court, and promptly moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.4 Bulkley argued that the Texas court had personal jurisdiction because Bulkley [**3] is a Texas resident and because the California law authorizing judicial review of agency action directs litigants to the county court where they reside: "Any person affected by an order or decision of the appeals board may . . . apply to the superior court of the county in which he resides, for a writ of mandate, for the purpose of inquiring into and determining the lawfulness of the" agency's decision.5 Bulkley also argued that the Department had minimum contacts with Texas because the citations "penalized Bulkley for its work rules and procedures, which were created and implemented in Texas."6 The district court rejected both arguments and dismissed Bulkley's claims. In doing so, the district court relied exclusively on its lack of personal jurisdiction, though it also noted "serious doubts over whether it ha[d] subject matter jurisdiction."7 Bulkley did not appeal.
After Bulkley I and before Bulkley II, in August 2019, the Department sent Bulkley a letter to collect the unpaid penalties of $6,180, informing Bulkley that the Department would pursue a judgment in California court if Bulkley failed to pay. On September 9, 2019, the Department sent Bulkley another letter, referencing violations [**4] of California law "observed during the inspection completed on 09/04/2015 [at] the place of employment" "maintained by" Bulkley and located in Salinas, California. This letter further instructed Bulkley to complete a form confirming that the violations had been remedied, and warned that failure to do so could result in the Department "conduct[ing] a follow-up inspection of [Bulkley's] place of employment" or "issuance of a citation and civil penalty."
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
1 F.4th 346 *; 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 17362 **
BULKLEY & ASSOCIATES, L.L.C., Plaintiff-Appellant, versus DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, DIVISION OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant-Appellee.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas USDC. No. 4:19-CV-735.
Bulkley & Assocs., LLC v. Occupational Safety & Health Appeals Bd. of Cal., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214720, 2019 WL 6828757 (E.D. Tex., Dec. 13, 2019)
inspection, minimum contact, personal jurisdiction, violations, place of employment, out-of-state, residents, lack of personal jurisdiction, contacts, sending, district court, subject-matter, long-arm, courts
Civil Procedure, Preliminary Considerations, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Challenges, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Constitutional Limits, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Long Arm Jurisdiction, Due Process, Doing Business, Minimum Contacts, Purposeful Availment, State Sovereign Immunity, Waiver, Interstate Commerce, State & Territorial Governments, Claims By & Against, Federal & State Interrelationships, State Immunity, Employees & Officials