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Kustom Cycles, Inc. v. Bowyer

Supreme Court of South Dakota

December 10, 2014

KUSTOM CYCLES, INC., d/b/a KLOCK WERKS, Plaintiff and Appellee,
CLINT BOWYER, Defendant and Appellant

Argued October 7, 2014

Page 402

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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JACK THEELER, DUSTIN J. LUDENS of Morgan Theeler, LLP, Mitchell, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

ALEX M. HAGEN, STEVEN W. SANFORD of Caldwell, Sanford, Deibert & Garry, LLP, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice. KONENKAMP, ZINTER, SEVERSON, and WILBUR, Justices, concur.


Page 404

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice

[¶1] Appellant, Clint Bowyer, appeals the First Judicial Circuit Court's denial of his motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, pursuant to SDCL 15-6-12(b)(2). Bowyer argues that he does not have sufficient minimum contacts with South Dakota such that the circuit court could constitutionally assert personal jurisdiction over him. Bowyer asks this Court to reverse the circuit court's Order Denying Bowyer's Motion to Dismiss and to remand with instructions to dismiss the Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] Clint Bowyer is a professional race car driver who races for Michael Waltrip Racing in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. Bowyer resides in North Carolina and travels to various states to compete in NASCAR events. Bowyer is also a motorcycle enthusiast and has attended the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, on several occasions. Kustom Cycles, Inc., owned by Brian Klock, is a South Dakota corporation operating in Mitchell, South Dakota. Kustom Cycles specializes in designing motorcycle parts and the customization of motorcycles.

[¶3] Klock and Bowyer first encountered each other at a NASCAR race in Daytona, Florida, in 2008. Later that fall, around November 9, the two again encountered one another at a NASCAR track in Phoenix, Arizona. Brook Phillips, the president of Total Performance, Inc., was present at this meeting. Prior to this date, Total Performance customized a 1949 Mercury automobile for Bowyer. Although the parties dispute who originated the idea, the parties agreed that Kustom Cycles would customize a motorcycle for Bowyer to match his 1949 Mercury. Bowyer asserts that Klock proposed trading his customization services for Bowyer's services in " promotional and endorsement pieces" for Klock and his vendors, as well as " special NASCAR access" for them.

[¶4] Several communications relevant to this case occurred after the meeting in Phoenix. On November 11, 2008, and January 5, 2009, Phillips sent pictures of the 1949 Mercury to Kustom Cycles in order to assist Kustom Cycles in rendering concept images for the proposed customization. On January 2, 2009, Bowyer purchased a 2009 Harley Davidson motorcycle from a dealership in Mankato, Minnesota. Bowyer then contacted Kustom Cycles and requested that Kustom Cycles pick up the motorcycle and transport it to Mitchell for customization. Several days later, on January 9, 2009, Casey Bowyer--Clint Bowyer's brother and alleged agent--contacted Kustom Cycles to approve its concept images of the proposed customization. Kustom Cycles first delivered the motorcycle to Bowyer at his home in North Carolina on February 15, 2009. Apparently Bowyer was not satisfied, and Kustom Cycles returned the motorcycle to Mitchell for additional modifications. Over one month later, on March 25, 2009, Casey Bowyer contacted Kustom Cycles and requested pictures of the customized motorcycle. On April 17, 2009, Kustom Cycles delivered

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the motorcycle, for a second time, to Bowyer in North Carolina.

[¶5] Meanwhile, Bowyer provided a number of services to Kustom Cycles. Bowyer arranged special access for Klock and his guests at a NASCAR race in Daytona, where they met and spoke with Bowyer. At that time, Bowyer also gained access to the track for Klock, who recorded himself riding the motorcycle onto the track for use in promotional materials. Bowyer also attended a four-hour photo shoot and granted Kustom Cycles permission to use his name and image for promotional purposes.[1] After Bowyer provided these services, and almost eight months after Kustom Cycles completed delivery of the motorcycle to Bowyer, Kustom Cycles sent Bowyer a bill for the work in the amount of $30,788.45. Bowyer refused to pay the bill, insisting that Klock proposed--and Bowyer performed--compensation in the form of the promotions, endorsements, and special access to NASCAR events that Bowyer previously provided.

[¶6] On November 12, 2010, Casey Bowyer participated in a telephone conference with Kustom Cycles in an effort to resolve the billing dispute. This discussion was unsuccessful, and on November 23, 2011, Kustom Cycles filed a complaint against Bowyer in South Dakota for payment of the bill. Bowyer moved the circuit court to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction on February 26, 2013. The circuit court heard arguments on the motion on November 26, 2013. The circuit judge announced his decision to rule against Bowyer at the hearing and entered the order denying the motion on January 14, 2014. Although neither party presented evidence at the hearing, the circuit judge entered findings of fact and conclusions of law ...

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