United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
GREGORY GREENE, JOSEPH LACK, ANTHONY MOTTO, and GREGORY PEARCE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
MIZUHO BANK, LTD. and MARK KARPELES, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
putative class action, Gregory Greene, Joseph Lack, Anthony
Motto, and Gregory Pearce allege that Mizuho Bank, Ltd. and
Mark Karpeles are liable for financial losses arising from
the demise of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange. Doc. 245.
Plaintiffs bring only state law claims, and subject matter
jurisdiction lies under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28
U.S.C. § 1332(d). Earlier in the litigation-when Greene,
an Illinois citizen, and Lack, a California citizen, were the
only named plaintiffs-the court issued an opinion,
familiarity with which is assumed, denying Mizuho Bank's
motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) to
dismiss the claims against it for lack of personal
jurisdiction. Docs. 199-200 (reported at 169 F.Supp.3d 855
(N.D. Ill. 2016)). For complicated reasons explained in the
opinion, the denial was conditioned on putative class
counsel's adding as a named plaintiff an Illinois
resident alleged to be a member of the Deposit Subclass. The
third amended complaint met that condition by adding Anthony
Motto, an Illinois citizen, as a named plaintiff and class
representative of the putative Deposit Subclass. Docs.
205-206. In February 2017, putative class counsel moved for
leave to file a fourth amended complaint adding Gregory
Pearce, a Pennsylvania citizen, as a named plaintiff. Doc.
242. After Mizuho informed the court that it did not oppose
the amendment, the motion was granted, Doc. 244, and the
fourth amended complaint, now the operative complaint, was
filed, Doc. 245.
complaint names Motto, Greene, Lack, and Pearce as
representatives of the putative Mt. Gox Class, defined as
“[a]ll persons in the United States who had bitcoins or
money stored with Mt. Gox on February 24, 2014.”
Id. at ¶ 89. The complaint names Motto and Lack
as representatives of the putative Deposit Subclass, defined
as those members of the putative Mt. Gox Class “who
deposited money into their Mt. Gox account through Mizuho
Bank after the date [when] Mizuho Bank stopped processing
withdrawals.” Ibid. The complaint names Pearce
as the sole representative of the putative Withdrawal
Subclass, defined as those members of the putative Mt. Gox
Class “who initiated a request to withdraw Fiat
Currency from their Mt. Gox account after the date [when]
Mizuho Bank stopped processing withdrawals, and whose
withdrawal request was not fulfilled.” Ibid.
months after the operative complaint's filing, the
Supreme Court issued Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior
Court of California, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017).
Bristol-Myers holds that specific personal
jurisdiction does not lie over a nonresident plaintiff's
claim against a defendant not subject to general personal
jurisdiction solely because the nonresident plaintiff's
claim is similar, or even identical, to a resident
plaintiff's claim in the same suit. Id. at
1780-82. Citing Bristol-Myers, Mizuho moves under
Rule 54(b) for partial reconsideration, as to Lack and
Pearce, of the court's denial of its Rule 12(b)(2)
motion. Doc. 282. At argument on the motion, Doc. 304,
Plaintiffs agreed to the dismissal of Lack's claims as a
named plaintiff against Mizuho; they did so because putative
Deposit Subclass, of which Lack can be an absent member, may
proceed with Motto as its representative. Plaintiffs oppose
the dismissal of Pearce's claims as a named plaintiff
against Mizuho; they do so because Pearce is the only
representative of the putative Withdrawal Subclass. The
motion is granted as to Pearce's claims against Mizuho.
the relevant background is set forth in the court's
opinion denying Mizuho's Rule 12(b)(2) motion and also
the court's opinion resolving Mizuho's Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. Docs. 229-230 (reported at 206 F.Supp.3d 1362 (N.D.
Ill. 2016)). As noted in the personal jurisdiction opinion,
the relevant background on a Rule 12(b)(2) motion includes
the complaint's well-pleaded allegations and the
evidentiary materials submitted by both sides. No party has
requested an evidentiary hearing, so the court must accept
Plaintiffs' factual averments and resolve all genuine
factual disputes in their favor. See Felland v.
Clifton, 682 F.3d 665, 672 (7th Cir. 2012)
(“[W]here, as here, the issue [of personal
jurisdiction] is raised on a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff
need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts.
We therefore accept as true all well-pleaded facts alleged in
the complaint and resolve any factual disputes … in
favor of the plaintiff.”) (citation omitted);
Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A.,
338 F.3d 773, 782-83 (7th Cir. 2003). The court must also
consider “documents attached to the complaint,
documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to
in it, and information that is subject to proper judicial
notice, ” along with additional facts set forth in
Plaintiffs' brief, so long as those facts “are
consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v.
Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th
Cir. 2013) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted);
see also Defender Sec. Co. v. First Mercury Ins.
Co., 803 F.3d 327, 335 (7th Cir. 2015). The facts are
set forth as favorably to Plaintiffs as those materials
allow. See Meade v. Moraine Valley Cmty. Coll., 770
F.3d 680, 682 (7th Cir. 2014). In so doing, the court does
not vouch for their accuracy. See Jay E. Hayden Found. v.
First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir.
is a Japanese financial institution headquartered in Tokyo,
Japan. Doc. 245 at ¶ 9. Mizuho received and processed
deposits and withdrawals of fiat currency for customers of
the now-defunct Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange. Ibid.
lives in Illinois. Id. at ¶ 4. Beginning in
2012, Greene sold and traded bitcoins on the Mt. Gox
exchange. Id. at ¶ 50. In November 2013, Greene
began experiencing delays with his bitcoin transactions.
Id. at ¶ 52. On February 5, 2014, Greene
discovered that he was unable to execute withdrawal and other
previously available functions on the exchange, and on
February 24, 2014, he lost all access to his Mt. Gox account.
Id. at ¶¶ 53-56. At that point, his
account contained approximately $25, 000 in bitcoins.
Id. at ¶ 57. Greene's claims are against
Karpeles only; he has no claims against Mizuho. Id.
at ¶¶ 95-150.
lives in Illinois. Id. at ¶ 6. Motto joined Mt.
Gox in early 2014, wiring $1, 000 in fiat currency from his
Illinois-registered JPMorgan Chase Bank account to Mt.
Gox's account at Mizuho. Id. at ¶¶
71-72. Motto listed his individual Mt. Gox account number on
the wire transfer instructions. Ibid. On February
18, 2014, Chase confirmed that Mizuho had accepted and
received Motto's deposit, but the $1, 000 did not appear
in his Mt. Gox account. Id. at ¶ 73. On
February 24, 2014, Motto lost access to his Mt. Gox account.
Id. at ¶ 75.
lives in Pennsylvania. Id. at ¶ 7. Pearce
opened his Mt. Gox account in November 2013, and began
selling and trading bitcoins. Id. at ¶¶
79-80. In January 2014, he converted some of his bitcoins to
fiat currency, intending to withdraw $5, 900 in fiat currency
from his Mt. Gox account. Id. at ¶ 82. On
January 29, 2014, Pearce submitted a withdrawal request in
the amount of $5, 900 to Mt. Gox, with instructions to
deposit those funds in his personal bank account.
Id. at ¶ 83. Although Pearce received an email
from Mt. Gox confirming the withdrawal, he never received the
withdrawn funds. Id. at ¶¶ 83, 85-86.
complaint states a tortious interference claim against Mizuho
on behalf of Motto, Pearce, the Deposit Subclass, and the
Withdrawal Subclass, id. at ¶¶ 122-130,
and unjust enrichment and fraudulent concealment claims
against Mizuho on behalf of Motto and the Deposit Subclass,
id. at ¶¶ 131-150. The complaint's
other claims, brought by Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves
and the Mt. Gox Class, are against Karpeles only.
Id. at ¶¶ 95-121.
54(b) provides that “non-final orders ‘may be
revised at any time before the entry of a judgment
adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights
and liabilities.'” Galvan v. Norberg, 678
F.3d 581, 587 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b));
see also id. at 587 n.3 (“Rule 54(b) governs
non-final orders and permits revision at any time prior to
the entry of judgment.”). “Unlike the case in
which a judgment is sought to be vacated … a motion to
reconsider a ruling is constrained only by the doctrine of
the law of the case. And that doctrine is highly flexible,
especially when a judge is being asked to reconsider his own
ruling.” Pickett v. Prince, 207 F.3d 402, 407
(7th Cir. 2000) (emphases omitted). Specifically, “the
law of the case doctrine permits ‘a court to revisit an
issue if an intervening change in the law, or some other
special circumstance, warrants reexamining the
claim.'” EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.,
417 F.3d 789, 796 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting United States
v. Thomas, 11 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 1993)); see
also Santamarina v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 466 F.3d
570, 571-72 (7th Cir. 2006) (“The authority of a
district judge to reconsider a previous ruling in the same
litigation … is governed by the doctrine of the law of
the case, which authorizes such reconsideration if there is a
compelling reason, such as a change in, or clarification of,
law that makes clear that the earlier ruling was
erroneous.”); Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese
Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (noting
that a “basis for a motion to reconsider [is] a
controlling or significant change in the law or facts since
the submission of the issue to the [c]ourt”) (citation
represents just such a circumstance. Although styled as a
“straightforward application … of settled
principles of personal jurisdiction, ” 137 S.Ct. at
1783, Bristol-Myers resolved an open question on
which lower courts had split: whether, absent a
“connection between [a state] and the specific
claims” brought by a nonresident plaintiff against a
defendant not subject to general jurisdiction in that state,
a court may nevertheless exercise specific personal
jurisdiction over those claims because they are similar or
identical to claims brought in the same case by a resident
plaintiff against the same defendant. Compare,
e.g., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. ...