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GHAZOUL v. INTERNATIONAL MGMT. SERVS.

July 25, 1975

Ramez J. GHAZOUL, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants


Cannella, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CANNELLA

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

CANNELLA, District Judge.

 Spire Capital Services Corp. [Spire], one of the defendants herein, has moved for the entry of an order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2)(3)(4) and (5) dismissing the instant cause as against it on the grounds of "lack of jurisdiction over the person"; "improper venue"; "insufficiency of process"; and "insufficiency of service of process". For the reasons indicated below, the motion is hereby denied.

 Addressing first Spire's challenge to personam jurisdiction, certain well accepted propositions must be noted. The plaintiff has the burden of sustaining an assertion of personal jurisdiction against a challenge. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189, 56 S. Ct. 780, 80 L. Ed. 1135 (1936); O'Hare Int'l Bank v. Hampton, 437 F.2d 1173, 1176 (7 Cir. 1971). However, "In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, it is proper for the Court to rely on affidavits to establish jurisdictional facts," Lynn v. Cohen, 359 F. Supp. 565, 566 (S.D.N.Y.1973), and in so proceeding, "we must consider the pleadings and affidavits in the light most favorable to the [plaintiff], who [is] the non-moving party." Oxford First Corp. v. PNC Liquidating Corp., 372 F. Supp. 191, 192-93 (E.D.Pa.1974).

 Where "determination of factual disputes central to the assertion of jurisdiction may be dispositive of questions of liability as well [as jurisdiction], the plaintiff need only show 'threshold' jurisdiction sufficient to demonstrate the fairness of allowing the suit to continue. The parties are not bound by the court's jurisdictional findings of fact when the case comes to trial on the merits." Holfield v. Power Chemical Co., 382 F. Supp. 388, 390 (D.Md.1974). Such "threshold jurisdiction" is demonstrated and the requisite burden of proof is satisfied when the plaintiff establishes prima facie a transaction or other conduct by a defendant which is within the compass of the applicable long-arm statute. *fn1" United States v. Montreal Trust Co., 358 F.2d 239, 242 (2 Cir.), cert. denied, 384 U.S. 919, 86 S. Ct. 1366, 16 L. Ed. 2d 440 (1966). Of course, "the amenability of a foreign corporation to suit in a federal court in a diversity action is determined in accordance with the law of the state where the court sits, with 'federal law' entering the picture only for the purpose of deciding whether a state's assertion of jurisdiction contravenes a constitutional guarantee." Arrowsmith v. United Press Int'l, 320 F.2d 219, 223 (2 Cir. 1963) (en banc).

 In the present case, plaintiff premises personam jurisdiction over Spire on the first two subdivisions of the New York long-arm statute, CPLR 302(a)(1) and (2).

 
As to a cause of action arising from any of the acts enumerated in this section, a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over any nondomiciliary, or his executor or administrator, who in person or through an agent:
 
1. transacts any business within the state; or
 
2. commits a tortious act within the state, except as to a cause of action for defamation of character arising from the act . . . .

 As we find that Spire is amenable to the jurisdiction of this Court under the "tortious act within the state" provision of the statute, 302(a)(2), we need not consider whether it has also transacted business, 302(a)(1), here. *fn2"

 As we have earlier indicated (See Memorandum and Order of April 4, 1975), this action was originally commenced by plaintiff against defendant International Management Services [IMS] to recover an amount in excess of $200,000 on two "loans". However, plaintiff subsequently discovered the existence of an allegedly fraudulent transaction between IMS and Spire, which is alleged to have been entered into with the intent of defrauding IMS creditors, such as plaintiff. Thus, in his Second Amended Complaint (to which this motion is addressed (see Wohl letter of June 4, 1975)), the plaintiff advances three claims against Spire. These allegations are set out in full text in the margin, *fn3" and, in summary, Spire is charged with having knowingly participated in conduct (the loan agreement and pledge) undertaken "to delay, hinder and defraud Plaintiff and other creditors of Defendant IMS by means of fraudulent conveyances" which, if established at trial, would constitute tortious action against the plaintiff. More importantly, it is claimed that all defendants conspired or acted in concert with each other to "delay, hinder and defraud" creditors of IMS.

 While a civil conspiracy is not of itself actionable under New York law, when alleged conspiratorial conduct rears its head in the context of a personal jurisdiction motion, an interesting animal enters the jurisdictional forest. As the New York Court of Appeals long ago recognized:

 
The allegation that there was a conspiracy to commit the fraud does not effect the substantial ground of action. The gravamen is fraud and damage, and not the conspiracy. The means by which a fraud is accomplished are immaterial except so far as they tend, in connection with the damage suffered, to show an actionable injury. The allegation and proof of a conspiracy in an action of this character is only important to connect a defendant with the transaction and to charge him with the acts and declarations of his co-conspirators, where otherwise he could not have been implicated. But a mere conspiracy to commit a fraud is never of itself a cause of action, and an allegation of conspiracy may be wholly disregarded and a recovery had, irrespective of such allegation, in case the plaintiff is able otherwise, to show the guilty participation of the defendant. In other words, the principles which govern an action for fraud and deceit are the same, whether the fraud is alleged to have originated in a conspiracy, or to have been solely committed by a defendant without aid or co-operation. Whenever it becomes necessary to prove a conspiracy in order to connect the defendant with the fraud, no averment of the conspiracy need be made in the pleadings to entitle it to be proved.

 Brackett v. Griswold, 112 N.Y. 454, 466-67, 20 N.E. 376 (1889) (emphasis in original and supplied). *fn4" Thus, if the conspiracy alleged by plaintiff in the complaint is proved at trial, then, under ...


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