EDDIE M. DeLEON, JASON KINGERY and STEVE PAUL BECK, Plaintiff and Appellant,
BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY, a Delaware corporation, Defendant and Appellee.
Submitted on Briefs: July 11, 2018
FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause Nos. DV 13-0729, DV
14-0167, DV 11-1799, Honorable Russell C. Fagg and Michael G.
Moses, Presiding Judges
Appellant: Jon M. Moyers, Moyers Law P.C., Billings, Montana
Kathryn Kohn Troldahl, Kohn Law, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota
Appellee: Randy J. Cox, Scott M. Stearns, Christopher L.
Decker, Boone Karlberg P.C., Missoula, Montana
Eddie M. DeLeon, Jason Kingery, and Steve Paul Beck
(collectively, Plaintiffs) each filed suit against BNSF
Railway Company (BNSF) in Montana's Thirteenth Judicial
District Court, Yellowstone County, for injuries allegedly
sustained while working for BNSF in states other than
Montana. BNSF moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for
lack of personal jurisdiction. The District Court granted
BNSF's motions to dismiss and each Plaintiff appealed. We
address the following issue in Plaintiffs' consolidated
a company consent to general personal jurisdiction in Montana
when it registers to do business and voluntarily conducts
business activities in Montana?
We conclude a company does not consent to general personal
jurisdiction by registering to do business in Montana and
voluntarily conducting in-state business activities. We
therefore affirm the District Court's orders granting
BNSF's motions to dismiss for lack of personal
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiffs each filed Federal Employers' Liability Act
(FELA) negligence claims against BNSF in Montana's
Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County. BNSF
is a rail carrier incorporated in Delaware with its principal
place of business in Texas. BNSF does business in Montana: it
has 2, 061 miles of railroad track in Montana; employs
approximately 2, 100 workers in Montana; maintains an
automotive facility in Montana; and generates less than 10%
of its total revenue in Montana. BNSF Ry. Co. v.
Tyrrell, 581 U.S.__, __, 137 S.Ct. 1549, 1554 (2017). In
order to lawfully conduct its business activities in Montana,
BNSF registered to do business and designated an in-state
agent for service of process.
In December 2011, plaintiff Kingery, a Missouri resident,
filed to recover for injuries he allegedly sustained while
working for BNSF outside of Montana. In June 2013, plaintiff
DeLeon, a Texas resident, filed to recover for injuries he
allegedly sustained while working for BNSF in Texas. In
January 2014, plaintiff Beck, a Texas resident, filed to
recover for injuries he allegedly sustained while working for
BNSF in Texas. Thereafter, Plaintiffs' cases followed
substantially similar procedural paths.
BNSF moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to M.
R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs responded to BNSF's motions to dismiss,
maintaining Montana had personal jurisdiction over BNSF
because the rail carrier consented to general personal
jurisdiction in Montana when it registered to do business and
subsequently conducted in-state business activities. The
District Court determined BNSF did not consent to personal
jurisdiction in Montana and accordingly dismissed
Plaintiffs' claims for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The determination of personal jurisdiction is a question of
law that we review de novo. Tackett v. Duncan, 2014
MT 253, ¶ 16, 376 Mont. 348, 334 P.3d 920. A motion to
dismiss is construed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and a court will not grant one unless, taking
all well-pleaded allegations of fact as true, it appears
beyond doubt that no set of facts supports ...