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DERO ENTERPRISES v. GEORGIA GIRL FASHIONS

December 4, 1984

DERO ENTERPRISES, INC., Plaintiff, against GEORGIA GIRL FASHIONS, INC., Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEISURE

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

LEISURE, District Judge:

 This is an action for goods sold and delivered. The defendant, Georgia Girl Fashions, Inc. ("Georgia Girl") has moved for an order pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) F.R.Civ.P. to dismiss this action on the ground this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

 The plaintiff, Dero Enterprises, Inc. ("Dero") alleges jurisdiction on the ground of diversity of citizenship and the requisite amount in controversy. By order dated March 9, 1984, Judge Gerard Goettel denied, with leave to renew at a more appropriate time, the defendant's motion to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. Thereafter, the parties conducted discovery and took the depositions of William Byrd, Georgia Girl's president ("Byrd deposition") and Edward Aguirre, Dero's sales representative and supervisor of inventory control ("Aguirrre deposition"). The parties have submitted affidavits with regard to the motion. Dero has also submitted copies of the two depositions described above.

 In response to Georgia Girl's motion, Dero contends that the Court has jurisdiction according to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules ("CPLR") § 302(a)(1), which gives New York courts jurisdiction over a non-domiciliary "who in person or through an agent . . . transacts any business within the state," as to any cause of action arising from such transaction. Dero argues that Georgia Girl transacted business in New York through its agent O.P.'s Only Fashions, Inc. ("O.P.'s Only"), or that Georgia Girl transacted business "in person" within New York. Dero also argues that Georgia Girl is "doing business" in New York for the purposes of CPLR § 301.

 The following facts are presented by the affidavits and depositions. Dero, a New York corporation whose principal place of business is in New York County, is a wholesaler of women's garments.Georgia Girl, a Georgia corporation whose principal place of business is in Norcross, Georgia, is a retailer of women's apparel. Its business it confined to Georgia and it has no offices, officers, employees or designated agents in New York, and neither advertises nor solicits customers in New York. O.P.'s Only is a New York corporation whose principal place of business is located in New York County. O.P.'s Only is an independent off-price fashion buying service, which means it acts as an intermediary or broker in the women's garment industry, representing many different companies on a commission basis.

 Georgia Girl has engaged the services of O.P.'s Only on several occasions to locate in the New York City market women's garments in which Georgia Girl has expressed an interest in buying. After locating the desired type of goods, O.P.'s Only would notify Georgia Girl and Byrd would visit New York. If the goods were satisfactory, he would make a purchase. O.P.'s Only usually received commissions of 5% as a result of such a transaction. Byrd has been to New York a total of 70-80 times on corporate business.

 In late May or early June, 1983 Dero had on hand in two New York City warehouses approximately 25,000 to 30,000 wool lined skirts manufactured in South America. Dero obtained the names of several off-price buying services from a directory of women's fashion buyers and in that manner contacted O.P.'s Only to tell them Dero had skirts it wanted to sell. Dero customarily contacts such buying services when it has a quantity of goods to sell. This was the first time that Dero did business with O.P.'s Only. O.P.'s Only represented themselves as able to place orders for other companies on goods Dero had in stock. No one told Dero that O.P.'s Only was Georgia Girl's New York buying office, although the listing for O.P.'s Only is the women's fashion buying guide indicated it is a "Paid Resident Buying Office." O.P.'s Only had approximately 30 accounts.

 After representatives of O.P.'s Only viewed the goods, O.P.'s Only called at least 20 retailers to inquire if they were interested in the skirts. On or before June 10, 1983 Byrd received an unsolicited telephone call from Bernard Pachter of O.P.'s Only asking if Georgia Girl would be interested in buying the skirts. Byrd told Pachter that he would come to New York in a few weeks to look at the goods, but Pachter replied that if he did not act quickly the line of skirts would be completely sold.Later that same day Byrd called Pachter and without having seen the goods placed an order. After receiving 18 orders, O.P.'s Only recorded them on its form and delivered the orders to Dero on June 10, 1983 or thereabouts. Two more orders were filled within a few days.

 Dero made two shipments to Georgia Girl, one on June 20, 1983 and the other on June 27, 1983. Within one week of the first shipment Georgia Girl called Dero and reported that some of the skirts were defective. These skirts were returned and Georgia Girl received a credit. Later, Dero contacted Georgia Girl requesting payment, which Dero considered overdue. By letter dated August 25, 1983 Byrd notified Dero that from 25% to 50% of the skirts were defective and requested to return the entire lot. By letter dated September 2, 1983 Byrd notified Dero that the skirts were "not as purchased by our agent, O.P.'s Only."

 DISCUSSION OF LAW

 In an action based on diversity of citizenship, the law of the state in which the action is begun determines whether the federal court has personal jurisdiction. Arrowsmith v. United Press International, 320 F.2d 219 (2d Cir. 1963). In New York CPLR §§ 301 and 302 set forth the bases upon which New York courts may assert personal jurisdiction over a non-domiciliary corporation.

 A. Georgia Girl Is Not "Doing Business" In New York.

 Under CPLR § 301, a New York court may assert personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation which is doing business in New York "not occasionally or casually, but with a fair measure of permanence and continuity." Tauza v. Susquehanna Coal Co., 220 N.Y. 259, 267, 115 N.E. 915, 917 (1917); Liquid Carriers Corp. v. American Marine Corp., 375 F.2d 951, 953 (2d Cir. 1967). This means the foreign corporation is carrying on systematic and regular activities within New York. Id. at 953. The only evidence of Georgia Girl's activities in New York consists of the 70 to 80 buying trips to New York taken by its president. There is no indication of the period of time during which these trips were taken, but in any event such activity does not amount to carrying on systematic and regular activities within the state. Indeed, the Supreme Court recently stated in Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.S. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 104 S. Ct. 1868, 1874, 80 L. Ed. 2d 404, 413 (1984) that "purchases and related trips, standing alone, are not a sufficient basis for a State's assertion of jurisdiction". See Rosenberg Bros. & Co. v. Curtis-Brown Co., 260 U.S. 516, 43 S. Ct. 170, 67 L. Ed. 372 (1923); Greenberg v. Lamson Bros., 273 A.D. 57, 75 ...


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