United States District Court, D. Vermont
OPINION AND ORDER: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
William K. Sessions, III District Court Judge.
Janet Jenkins, for herself and as next friend of her daughter
Isabella Miller-Jenkins, has brought suit against several
individuals and organizations, alleging that they kidnapped
and conspired to kidnap Isabella. Plaintiffs assert claims of
commission of, and conspiracy to, commit an intentional tort
of kidnapping and conspiracy to violate civil rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1985(3).
Timothy Miller (“Defendant”) moves to dismiss the
Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient
services of process, under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2) and 12(b)(5).
reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is
Timothy Miller currently resides in Denver, Pennsylvania. In
September 2009, he resided in Managua, Nicaragua.
Miller-Jenkins is the daughter of Defendant Lisa Miller and
Plaintiff Janet Jenkins. She is the biological daughter of
Lisa Miller, born in April 2002 while the two women were
joined in a civil union, which they obtained in Vermont in
2000. At first the family lived in Virginia, but moved to
Vermont in August 2002. When Isabella was seventeen months
old, Miller and Jenkins separated and Miller moved with
Isabella back to Virginia.
Miller petitioned the Vermont Family Court to dissolve the
union and to determine parental rights and responsibilities
with respect to Isabella. The family court issued a temporary
order on June 17, 2004, granting temporary legal and physical
responsibility to Lisa Miller and setting a visitation
schedule for parent-child contact between Jenkins and
Isabella, including monthly visits and daily telephone
than a visit on the first weekend of the visitation schedule,
Lisa Miller did not allow Jenkins to have parent-child
contact either in person or by telephone. Instead, she filed
a new petition in the Circuit Court of Frederick County,
Virginia, asking that court to declare her the sole parent of
Isabella and to rule that Jenkins had no parental or
visitation rights. On appeal from an order granting Lisa
Miller's requested relief, the Virginia Court of Appeals
held that by filing her petition in Vermont Lisa Miller had
invoked the jurisdiction of the courts of Vermont, that
Virginia courts lacked jurisdiction over her subsequent
petition and were required to extend full faith and credit to
the custody and visitation orders of the Vermont court.
Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins, 637 S.E.2d 330,
338 (Va.App. 2006).
2007 the Vermont family court ordered sole physical and legal
custody of Isabella to Lisa Miller, and awarded Jenkins
visitation rights. The Court warned Lisa Miller, however,
that continued interference with the relationship between
Isabella and Jenkins could warrant a modification of the
custody order. See Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins,
2010 VT 98, ¶ 5, 12 A.3d 768, 772 (entry order).
Although Lisa Miller did comply with the visitation schedule
on several occasions in the last half of 2007, by the spring
of 2008 Lisa Miller renewed her defiance of the visitation
orders, and was found in contempt of court multiple times. In
August 2009 Jenkins moved to modify the family court order
concerning parental rights and responsibilities. Lisa Miller
did not attend the hearing on the motion, but filed an
objection to any transfer of custody.
the Vermont family court ruled on Jenkins' motion, Lisa
Miller left the country with Isabella on September 22, 2009.
On November 20, 2009, the Vermont family court concluded that
Lisa Miller had willfully interfered with Jenkins'
visitation rights, and it transferred legal and physical
rights and responsibilities for Isabella to Jenkins as of
January 1, 2010. As far as is known however neither Isabella
nor Lisa Miller have returned to this country.
criminal investigation and prosecution followed, which
involved Defendant. In April 2011, Defendant was arrested for
aiding and abetting the kidnapping of Isabella. He appeared
twice in Vermont in response to those charges, which were
dismissed in exchange for Defendant's agreement to
testify against Kenneth Miller. Defendant did not testify and
was later charged in the Western District of New York with
conspiracy to commit international parent kidnapping in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. He pleaded guilty in
filed this action 2012, alleging, inter alia, that
Defendant purchased plane tickets for Lisa Miller and
Isabella from Canada to Nicaragua, met Lisa Miller and
Isabella when they arrived in Nicaragua, helped them rent an
apartment, allowed them to visit his home and teach his
children, and arranged for their belongings to be brought
from Virginia to Nicaragua. Plaintiffs allege he did this
while advising his family not to discuss Lisa Miller by email
(to avoid her being traced to Nicaragua), and continued to
help her after learning that a Vermont court had transferred
custody of Isabella from Lisa Miller to Jenkins on November
Plaintiffs filed their initial Complaint in 2012, Defendant
was still in Nicaragua and Plaintiffs were not successful in
personally serving him there. Plaintiffs moved under Rule
4(f)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for
permission to serve process on Defendant through Jeffrey A.
Conrad, an attorney who had appeared on Defendant's
behalf in both criminal ...