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FRIEDR. ZOELLNER CORP. v. TEX METALS CO.

November 14, 1967

FRIEDR. ZOELLNER (NEW YORK) CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
TEX METALS COMPANY, Defendant


Croake, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CROAKE

MEMORANDUM

CROAKE, District Judge.

 This is a motion by the defendant, Tex Metals Company (TEX METALS) for an order pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), Fed.R.Civ.P., setting aside service of process and dismissing the complaint on the ground that this court lacks jurisdiction over the person.

 The action, which alleges breach of a joint venture agreement between TEX METALS and Friedr. Zoellner Corporation (ZOELLNER), was first instituted in the Supreme Court of New York County. The summons and complaint were served on TEX METALS in Corpus Christi, Texas, on April 3, 1967. On May 2, 1967 the defendant removed the action to this court on the ground of diversity of citizenship, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (1964).

 TEX METALS, a division of Western Metal Co. and a Texas corporation, is a broker of scrap iron, steel, and other metals. The material purchased by TEX METALS is sold by them to independent distributors, mills and other purchasers. ZOELLNER is a New York corporation engaged in the business of importing and exporting metals and ores through various affiliates throughout the world.

 At a convention of the Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel, Inc., held in Washington, D.C., in January 1966, the president of TEX METALS and the then vicepresident of ZOELLNER discussed the possibility of entering into an agreement concerning the purchase and resale of certain scrap metals. It is clear from the affidavits of the parties that they had done business intermittently before these discussions and were apparently satisfied with these prior dealings.

 In February 1966 an agreement was reached over the phone between the two companies. This apparently occurred after several preparatory calls preceding the call in which agreement was reached. The terms of the agreement were oral and never reduced to writing. The agreement reached was not an exclusive dealing arrangement and the affidavit of the president of TEX METALS states that less than 3 percent of TEX METALS' total tonnage business was done with ZOELLNER. Under the terms of the agreement, TEX METALS was to purchase copper in the United States and ship it in customs bond to the free trade zone in New Orleans. Material not designated for immediate shipment was stored in the zone in facilities rented by TEX METALS. ZOELLNER was to arrange for subsequent shipment of the stored material to its customers throughout the world.

 Profits were to be divided evenly between the two contracting parties. Material purchased by TEX METALS was to be invoiced from Corpus Christi, Texas, to ZOELLNER in New York. As the material was sold and shipped from New Orleans, an invoice from ZOELLNER would be forwarded to TEX METALS with the purchaser's name blacked out showing the total sales price of the goods.

 Periodically, TEX METALS' auditors would make an accounting of the joint venture from its inception. This accounting would include a profit and loss summary with supporting schedules and a closing inventory valuation with calculations such as closing inventory costs, purchasing costs, processing costs, and the like. In the month of July 1966, it became apparent to ZOELLNER that part of the New Orleans inventory was missing so that ZOELLNER had paid for materials which they could not sell for the benefit of the joint venture. In October 1966 ZOELLNER'S records indicated scrap metal having a market value of between $25,000 and $35,000 was missing from the New Orlean warehouse.

 Because of this and other discrepancies between ZOELLNER'S and TEX METALS' accounts, a meeting was held in New York City. This meeting took place in ZOELLNER'S offices in the latter part of November. After this meeting a proposal to end the joint venture was submitted by TEX METALS on December 5, 1966, but it was not approved. Since that time, TEX METALS has refused to honor requests to ship the remaining copper in stock in their warehouse, prompting ZOELLNER to bring this suit.

 The jurisdiction of a federal district court over a removed action under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (1964) depends upon the jurisdiction of the state court before removal. If the state court lacked jurisdiction, the federal court acquires none. Lambert Run Coal Co. v. Baltimore & O. R.R. Co., 258 U.S. 377, 382, 42 S. Ct. 349, 66 L. Ed. 671 (1922); Venner v. Michigan Cent. R.R. Co., 271 U.S. 127, 131, 46 S. Ct. 444, 70 L. Ed. 868 (1926); Liquid Carriers Corp. v. American Marine Corp., 375 F.2d 951 (2d Cir. 1967). Therefore, we turn to state law to see if under New York law jurisdiction may be obtained. See Arrowsmith v. United Press International, 320 F.2d 219, 6 A.L.R.3d 1072 (2d Cir. 1963).

 First, jurisdiction may be had over a foreign corporation if it is doing business in New York. See § 301 N.Y.C.P.L.R; Tauza v. Susquehanna Coal Co., 220 N.Y. 259, 115 N.E. 915 (1917). As the plaintiff seems to agree that the defendant was not doing business within the meaning of the New York law, we turn to consider plaintiff's contention that the defendant is subject to the jurisdiction of the New York courts under § 302 N.Y.C.P.L.R. - the long-arm statute.

 ZOELLNER contends that § 302, N.Y.C.P.L.R. *fn1" gives this court jurisdiction over TEX METALS because it conducted business within this state and the action arose out of this transaction of business. It further contends that TEX METALS has committed a tort without the state expecting its acts to have consequences in New York and derives substantial revenue from interstate or international commerce. This contention seeks to take advantage of the 1966 amendment to the C.P.L.R. extending the jurisdiction of the New York courts to torts committed without the state. See § 302(a)(3)(ii) N.Y.C.P.L.R.

 We deal first with the contention that TEX METALS was transacting business within New York. ZOELLNER states that by commencing the joint venture TEX METALS can be said to have purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within New York and thus has subjected itself to in personam jurisdiction. See Longines-Wittnauer Watch Co. v. Barnes & Reinecke, Inc., 15 N.Y.2d 443, 261 N.Y.S.2d 8, 209 N.E.2d ...


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