There Is Almost Never Pendent Appellate (Inextricably-Intertwined) Jurisdiction over Denial of Personal-Jurisdiction or Venue Motions on Appeal from Denial of Motion to Compel Arbitration

From Turi v. Main Street Adoption Servs., LLP, 633 F.3d 496 (6th Cir. 2011):

Main Street Adoption Services, LLP and two of its officers (collectively, Main Street), none of whom are residents of Michigan, have filed this interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's conclusions that (1) it has personal jurisdiction over Main Street regarding the various claims of the Michigan plaintiffs, (2) venue is proper in the Eastern District of Michigan, and (3) the parties' arbitration clause in their adoption agreements does not foreclose litigating the present case in federal court. ***

"Although the parties did not raise the issue of appellate jurisdiction in their briefs, we are under an independent obligation to police our own jurisdiction, and thus we can raise the issue of jurisdiction sua sponte." ***"Ordinarily, appellate jurisdiction is lacking to hear an appeal from an order denying a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss since such an order is interlocutory in nature." ***

A. Appellate jurisdiction over the denial of Main Street's arbitration claim

The district court's denial of Main Street's motion to dismiss, which was based on the parties' arbitration clause, is independently reviewable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. § 16, and Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. ***

B. Appellate jurisdiction over Main Street's personal-jurisdiction and venue defenses

Whether we have interlocutory jurisdiction over the district court's denial of Main Street's personal-jurisdiction and venue defenses is another matter. Interlocutory appeals may be heard where the issue being raised falls under the collateral-order doctrine or if the issue is "inextricably intertwined" with another issue that the appellate court has the independent jurisdiction to consider. Lowe v. Hamilton Cnty. Dep't of Job & Family Servs., 610 F.3d 321, 323 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the court lacked jurisdiction over the defendant's appeal from the district court's denial of various defenses raised in the defendant's motion for summary judgment because the issues on appeal "do not fall under the collateral order doctrine nor are they inextricably intertwined with the [immediately appealable] issue of sovereign immunity"). As discussed below, neither of these principles is applicable to the facts in the present case. ***

1. The collateral-order doctrine

***Under this doctrine, appeals are permitted "not only from a final decision by which a district court disassociates itself from a case, but also from a small category of decisions that ***includes only decisions that are conclusive, that resolve important questions separate from the merits, and that are effectively unreviewable on appeal from the final judgment in the underlying action." ***

A claim that the trial court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant can be vindicated on appeal after trial, and thus does not satisfy the third prong of the collateral-order doctrine. Lauro Lines s.r.l. v. Chasser, 490 U.S. 495, 501, 109 S. Ct. 1976, 104 L. Ed. 2d 548 (1989) (holding that a claimed right to be sued in a particular forum based on a forum-selection clause is "surely as effectively vindicable as a claim that the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant--and hence does not fall within the third prong of the collateral order doctrine"). Unlike a claim of sovereign immunity, which is immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine because it is a claimed immunity from the obligation to stand trial, ** a claim that the district court lacks personal jurisdiction is simply a claimed right to not be sued in a particular forum, and is therefore not immediately appealable. Lauro Lines s.r.l., 490 U.S. at 501; see also City of Monroe Emps. Ret. Sys. v. Bridgestone Corp., 399 F.3d 651, 667 (6th Cir. 2005) (holding that the issue of personal jurisdiction deals with "amenability to suit in a particular forum").

Interlocutory challenges to a district court's denial of a motion to dismiss for improper venue are also not immediately appealable. Henry v. City of Detroit Manpower Dep't, 763 F.2d 757, 764 (6th Cir. 1985) (en banc) (holding that appeals regarding denials of appointment-of-counsel motions in a class action were not immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine because, similar to "interlocutory orders in ordinary litigation--[including] rulings on . . . venue," such orders are nonfinal). Our sister circuits have similarly held that orders determining that venue, or a particular forum, is proper are not immediately appealable because they are "effectively reviewable after entry of judgment." See United States v. Snipes, 512 F.3d 1301, 1301-02 (11th Cir. 2008) (holding that "an order pertaining to venue in a criminal case" is not immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine); U.S. Tour Operators Ass'n v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 556 F.2d 126, 129 (2d Cir. 1977) (holding that "preliminary rulings establishing the forum are not appealable, even though postponing review forces the would-be appellant to litigate in the forum he seeks to avoid, and creates the risk that an entire proceeding will be rendered nugatory"). The district court's denial of Main Street's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue thus does not fall under the collateral-order doctrine.

2. The inextricably-intertwined exception

Even if claims are not reviewable under the collateral-order doctrine, they may still be reached on interlocutory appeal if they are inextricably intertwined with an independently appealable issue. Lowe, 610 F.3d at 323. Whereas the collateral-order doctrine establishes a category of claims that are considered final, the inextricably-intertwined rule — typically referred to as "pendent appellate jurisdiction" — provides an exception to the general rule that only final orders are immediately appealable. *** Pendent appellate jurisdiction thus "allows an appellate court, in its discretion, to exercise jurisdiction over issues that are not independently appealable." ***

But "the 'inextricably intertwined' requirement is not meant to be loosely applied as a matter of discretion. Rather, the 'inextricably intertwined' requirement is satisfied only if the resolution of the properly appealable issue 'necessarily and unavoidably' decides the non-appealable issue." Id. at 287. A challenge to a nonfinal order, in other words, will be considered inextricably intertwined with a claim that is independently reviewable if the pendent claim is "coterminous with, or subsumed in, the claim before the court on interlocutory appeal." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

This court has not specifically dealt with whether personal-jurisdiction and venue determinations are inextricably intertwined with decisions concerning arbitrability. But our well-developed general standard for when pendent appellate jurisdiction applies readily resolves the present inquiry. Although resolution of the arbitration issue in the present case entails analyzing some of the same alleged interactions between Main Street and the plaintiffs that are relevant to the personal-jurisdiction and venue issues, the geographic location of these interactions — which is essential to the personal-jurisdiction and venue determinations — is simply not relevant to the scope of the parties' arbitration clause. The resolution of whether the plaintiffs' claims must be arbitrated therefore does not "necessarily and unavoidably" resolve whether personal jurisdiction and venue are proper. ***

"Pendent appellate jurisdiction may also be appropriate if review of the issue of which the court does not properly have jurisdiction is 'necessary to ensure meaningful review' of the issue of which the Court does." Id. at 890. ***[H]ere, resolution of the personal-jurisdiction and venue issues is not critical to the arbitration issue because even if the district court is required to abstain from considering the plaintiffs' claims based on the fact that it lacks personal jurisdiction or because venue is improper, such a result has no effect on the merits of the separate determination of whether these claims are covered by the parties' arbitration clause.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has persuasively explained that whether a personal-jurisdiction defense will be considered inextricably intertwined with an arbitration claim depends on whether the personal jurisdiction issue is "interrelated or intertwined with the merits of the immediately appealable" arbitration order. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. Rhone Poulenc Fiber and Resin Intermediates, S.A.S., 269 F.3d 187, 204 (3d Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Where personal jurisdiction is inextricably intertwined with the immediately appealable decision on a motion to compel arbitration . . ., Courts of Appeals have exercised pendent jurisdiction over a personal jurisdiction issue, but those Courts have been careful to explain that the basis of the personal jurisdiction decision was identical to the basis of the immediately appealable order." Id. at 203-04.

These two issues have been considered inextricably intertwined, for example, where the parties' consent to arbitrate their claims itself forms the basis for exercising personal jurisdiction. Id. at 204 (citing PaineWebber Inc. v. Chase Manhattan Private Bank, 260 F.3d 453, 461-62 (5th Cir. 2001), and Dominium Austin Partners, L.L.C. v. Emerson, 248 F.3d 720, 726-27 (8th Cir. 2001)). On the other hand, where "[t]he issue of personal jurisdiction does not have to be reviewed to exercise meaningful review of the immediately appealable arbitration issue, . . . we will not exercise pendent appellate jurisdiction" over the personal-jurisdiction issue. E.I. DuPont, 269 F.3d at 205.

As in E.I. Dupont, the personal-jurisdiction and venue determinations, as well as the geographic location of various conduct at issue in the present case, have nothing to do with whether the district court was foreclosed by the parties' arbitration clause from considering the plaintiffs' claims. See also Simon v. Pfizer Inc., 398 F.3d 765, 772 n.9 (6th Cir. 2005) (holding that pendent appellate jurisdiction did not exist over the appellant's administrative-exhaustion claim because that claim was "not coterminous with, or subsumed in the arbitration issue" (internal quotation marks omitted)). The issues of whether personal jurisdiction exists regarding the Michigan plaintiffs' claims and whether venue is proper in the Eastern District of Michigan are therefore not inextricably intertwined with the arbitrability of the plaintiffs' claims.

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