Twombly and permits to sell snow cones

The plaintiff in Bowlby v. City of Aberdeen alleged a denial of procedural due process and equal protection rights as to the handling of her license to run a snow cone stand in a particular location.  No. 11-60279 (May 14, 2012).   The Court applied Twombly and Iqbal to find that she had not stated an equal protection claim, reminding that a pleading should have “facial plausibility” from its “pleaded factual content” and not offer only “labels and conclusions or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”  Op. at 17 (noting “no allegations regarding the types of businesses . . . the size . . . where they are located, or what laws and regulations they have violated”).   The Court found an actionable due process issue and rejected a challenge to its ripeness, both under a specialized test for constitutional claims and under “general ripeness principles.”  Id. at 14-15 (requiring a claim “fit for judicial decision” as to which delay “would cause . . . further hardship”).

“Unilateral transport” of product defeats specific jurisdiction

Plaintiff purchased a shaved-ice machine in Louisiana, made by Southern Snow, a Louisiana-based business.  She moved the machine to Mississippi, injured her hand while cleaning it, and sued for damages in Mississippi.  Irvin v. Southern Snow Manufacturing, No. 11-60767 (March 13, 2013, unpublished).  The Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court that she did not establish specific jurisdiction under a stream-of-commerce theory.  Even assuming that Southern Snow had minimum contacts by making a substantial percentage of its sales into neighboring Mississippi, her claim did not arise out of those contacts because “Southern Snow sold the machine to a Louisiana customer and had no knowledge that, years later, Irvin unilaterally transported it into Mississippi.”  General personal jurisdiction was not at issue.  The Court’s emphasis on the “arising out of” factor echoes its recent opinion in ITL International v. Constenla, S.A., 669 F.3d 493 (5th Cir. 2012).  The vagaries of snow cone sales produced another published Fifth Circuit opinion, on procedural due process and pleading issues, in Bowlby v. City of Aberdeen, 681 F.3d 215 (5th Cir. 2012).