Maria Frank v. P N K (Lake Charles) L.L.C.

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    Case: 18-31060 Document: 00515278726 Page: 1 Date Filed: 01/21/2020 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED January 21, 2020 No. 18-31060 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk MARIA STEFFAN FRANK, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Betty Steffan; DAVID BRUCE STEFFAN; THOMAS J. STEFFAN; CYNTHIA D. GUM; ROBERT M. STEFFAN; DAVID B. STEFFAN, JR.; RICHARD L. STEFFAN; SUZANNE L. KELLEY, Plaintiffs – Appellants v. P N K (LAKE CHARLES) L.L.C., erroneously named as Pinnacle Entertainment Incorporated, doing business as L’Auberge du Lac Hotel; Casino, Defendant – Appellee Appeal from the United States District Court Western District of Louisiana Before BARKSDALE, STEWART, and COSTA, Circuit Judges. CARL E. STEWART, Circuit Judge: Plaintiffs-Appellants, Maria Steffan Frank, individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Betty Steffan, David Bruce Steffan, Thomas J. Steffan, Cynthia D. Gum, Robert M. Steffan, David B. Steffan, Jr., Richard L. Steffan, and Suzanne L. Kelley (collectively referred to as “Appellants”) initiated this wrongful death action against Defendant-Appellee PNK (Lake Charles) LLC (“PNK”) alleging, inter alia, claims for negligence, premises liability, and breach of warranty. Appellants originally filed a state action in Case: 18-31060 Document: 00515278726 Page: 2 Date Filed: 01/21/2020 No. 18-31060 Harris County, Texas. The case was subsequently removed and transferred to the presiding court for lack of personal jurisdiction. Shortly after the case’s transfer, the district court dismissed Appellants’ claims for being time-barred. Appellants appeal the judgment and the related order transferring this action to the Western District of Louisiana. In view of Supreme Court precedent illuminating the personal jurisdiction standard, we AFFIRM. I. In 2015, Betty Steffan fell off a swivel chair in the L’Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana (“L’Auberge”). When the 86-year- old Texas native fell from the stool, her head struck the casino’s floor causing a subdural hematoma which led to her death the following day. The PNK’s Texas contacts below are outlined in Appellants’ complaint and exhibits attached to Appellants’ response to PNK’s motion to dismiss or transfer. 1 1 According to the complaint, Appellants allege that personal jurisdiction exists because PNK “employed Texas residents, solicited business within the State of Texas, and has otherwise availed itself of the benefits and protections offered by the laws of” Texas. For jurisdictional support in response to PNK’s motion to dismiss or transfer, the record reflects that Appellants relied on the following: (1) an affidavit from Maria Steffan Frank; (2) a 2005 Houston Chronicle Article discussing the marketing strategies in opening L’Auberge; (3) an affidavit from Appellants’ counsel; (4) economic data related to Louisiana’s gaming board and the economic impact of riverboat casinos; (5) a bus schedule published by Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. (“Pinnacle”), PNK’s sole owner; (6) a Pinnacle organizational chart; and (7) a Pinnacle press release. Outside of the fact that the majority of this evidence provides little to no jurisdictional support, we still consider “the contents of the record at the time of the motion.” Paz …Original document

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