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Stroud v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 10, 2015

JANESIA DANIELLE STROUD, Plaintiff,
v.
TYSON FOODS, INC. and WENDY'S INTERNATIONAL, LLC, Defendants

Page 382

For Janesia Danielle Stroud, Plaintiff: Brian L Ponder, Brian Ponder LLP, New York, NY.

For Tyson Foods, Inc., Wendy's International, LLC, Defendants: Jeffrey A. Segal, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby LLP, New York, NY.

Page 383

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

DORA L. IRIZARRY, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Janesia Danielle Stroud (" Plaintiff" ) filed the instant action against defendants Tyson Foods, Inc. (" Tyson" ) and Wendy's International, LLC (" Wendy's" ) (collectively, " Defendants" ) alleging a variety of state law claims arising out of injuries Plaintiff suffered from consuming a

Page 384

chicken nugget at a Wendy's franchise restaurant located in Valdosta, Georgia. ( See Amended Complaint (" Compl." ), Dkt. Entry No. 2.) Defendants, both foreign corporations, move to dismiss this action for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ( see Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss (" Defs.' Mem." ), Dkt. Entry No. 9-6), which Plaintiff opposes ( see Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition (" Pl.'s Opp'n" ) Dkt. Entry No. 12). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted and this action is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that, on September 5, 2013, while at a Wendy's franchise restaurant located in Georgia, she swallowed " masticated chicken nuggets" and " felt a sharp pain from something sharply pointed and rough in her throat or pharynx." (Compl. ¶ 22.) She " began to gag and choke" and " cough[ed] up hard, sharp objects." ( Id. ¶ 23.) She sought immediate medical treatment for her injuries, but continues to suffer from persistent throat pain. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 30-39, 43-50.) Plaintiff alleges that the restaurant at issue was " controlled, leased, owned, maintained, managed and/or operated by Defendants." ( Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff further alleges that Tyson manufactured the chicken nuggets that caused her injuries. ( Id. ¶ 21.)

Notably, in this diversity action, the complaint is void of any allegations regarding Plaintiff's domicile. According to a medical record that Defendants submitted, Plaintiff is a resident of Georgia. ( See Sept. 18, 2013 South Georgia Medical Center Bill, attached as Exhibit B to the Affidavit of Roberto Uribe (" Uribe Aff." ), Dkt. Entry No. 9-2.) Tyson is incorporated in Delaware and its principal place of business is Arkansas. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 3-6.) Wendy's is incorporated in Ohio and its principal place of business is Ohio. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 9-15.)

There are no allegations regarding potential grounds for exercising personal jurisdiction over Defendants. In response to the instant motion, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants are subject to general jurisdiction as they are " engaged in business" of a " continuous and systematic" nature in New York. (Pl.'s Opp'n at 9.) Plaintiff points to a Tyson manufacturing plant located in Buffalo, New York. ( Id. at 10.) According to Plaintiff, Tyson operates this plant under the name of its alter ego, Zemco Industries, Inc. (" Zemco" ). ( Id. at 10-11.) Zemco is incorporated in Delaware and its principal place of business is Arkansas. ( See N.Y.S. Dep't of State Entity Information for Zemco, attached as Exhibit J to the Declaration of Brian L. Ponder (" Ponder Decl." ), Dkt. Entry No. 11; Ponder Decl. ¶ 34.)

Plaintiff also points to numerous franchised restaurants that Wendy's operates in New York, as well as Wendy's solicitation of applicants for a " Facilities Technician" position in Farmingdale, New York. (Pl.'s Opp'n at 12-13.) Plaintiff notes that Wendy's operates more than 6,500 restaurants globally. ( Id. at 13.) Plaintiff asserts that one of Wendy's subsidiaries, Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers of New York (" Wendy's New York" ), operates facilities in New York. Wendy's New York is incorporated in and has its principal place of business in Ohio. (Ponder Decl. ¶ 53; Pl.'s Opp'n at 13.)

The complaint lacks any allegations regarding Zemco's or Wendy's New York's involvement with or connection to the alleged tainted chicken nuggets. Neither Zemco nor Wendy's New York are named as defendants in this action.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Dismiss Legal Standard

" A plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating personal ...


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