Since plaintiff did not move to South Carolina until after his dealings with defendant – a Georgia bank – the bank’s dealings with plaintiff do not give South Carolina’s courts personal jurisdiction over the bank. The bank’s responses to plaintiff’s discovery requests do not change this outcome.
We affirm the circuit court’s grant of the bank’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The bank’s contacts to South Carolina were nonexistent in this matter. The bank’s relationship with plaintiff was limited to Georgia. The transactions he conducted with the bank all occurred in Georgia. The bank did not have any locations in South Carolina. The bank did not directly conduct business with plaintiff after he moved to South Carolina in 2010. At all times during its existence, plaintiff’s business was a Georgia corporation with its physical location in Augusta, Georgia.
Furthermore, plaintiff failed to show the bank directed its activities to or purposefully availed itself of the privileges of conducting business in South Carolina and thus invoked the benefits and protections of South Carolina’s laws such that it could anticipate being haled into court here.
We conclude plaintiff failed to show (1) the bank established sufficient contacts with this forum such that it should have anticipated being sued here and (2) the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the bank under the South Carolina long-arm statute would comport with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
Plaintiff argues the bank waived its defense based on lack of personal jurisdiction because it engaged in discovery and delayed in seeking a dismissal. We disagree.
“[A] delay in challenging personal jurisdiction by motion to dismiss may result in waiver, even where the defense was asserted in a timely answer.” Maybank v. BB&T Corp., 416 S.C. 541, 787 S.E.2d 498 (2016).
The bank stated in its answer the facts and allegations pertinent to its lack of personal jurisdiction defense and timely brought the issue before the circuit court by filing a motion to dismiss after raising the defense. Furthermore, the bank did not waive its defense (1) by answering plaintiff’s interrogatories and requests for production because it responded at plaintiff’s counsel’s behest, who requested the responsive discovery from the bank to “expedite the disposition of the case” or (2) by participating in depositions to determine the issue of personal jurisdiction. Additionally, the parties agreed to a consent motion for entry of a scheduling order, which stated the bank’s motion to dismiss would need to be heard before trial, and agreed the scheduling order was necessary for the parties to proceed with the motion.
Abdulla v. Southern Bank (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-021-23, 10 pp.) (James Lockemy, J.) Appealed from Aiken County Circuit Court (Maite Murphy, J.) Tucker Player for appellant; Mark Louis Wilhelm for respondent. S.C. App.