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ROUNDBALL ENTERPRISES v. RICHARDSON

September 12, 1985

ROUNDBALL ENTERPRISES, INC. Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL RAY RICHARDSON and PROFESSIONAL SPORTS MANAGEMENT, INC. Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KRAM

SHIRLEY WOHL KRAM, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 The above-captioned action is before this Court upon the motion of defendant Professional Sports Management, Inc. ("PSM") to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion is denied.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Roundball Enterprises, Inc. ("Roundball") commenced this action against Richardson and G. Patrick Healy by filing the complaint herein on October 21, 1982. Richardson is a well-known professional basketball player. Roundball alleges that it was Richardson's exclusive agent, and asserted claims against Richardson for fees allegedly owing, and against Healy, the president of PSM, Richardson's current agent, for tortious interference with its contractual relationship with Richardson.

 Healy moved for dismissal of the complaint as against him for want of in personam jurisdiction. That motion was granted in an opinion dated March 31, 1983, on the grounds that any contact Healy had with New York was in a representative capacity for PSM, not in his individual capacity.

 Roundball moved for leave to file an amended complaint naming PSM as a defendant in the action on April 13, 1983. On May 20, 1983, Roundball's motion for leave to file an amended complaint was granted. Roundball served and filed an amended complaint asserting a cause of action against PSM for tortious interference with its contractual relationship with Richardson. Thereafter, PSM filed this motion to dismiss the complaint on a variety of grounds, the primary one seeming to claim lack of personal jurisdiction.

 This action arises out of an alleged contract between Roundball and Richardson entered into on May 5, 1980, whereby Roundball was to serve as Richardson's exclusive representative for a period of four years. By the terms of this agreement, Roundball was to represent Richardson in employment contract negotiations and was to provide overall financial and business management services. Pursuant to that agreement, Don Cronson, the president of Roundball, acquired a power-of-attorney with respect to a cash management account maintained in Richardson's name by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith ("Merrill Lynch") at its office at 165 Broadway in Manhattan.

 PSM, through Healy, alleges that on February 8, 1982, Richardson signed an agreement in Seattle, Washington to retain PSM as his exclusive business representative and manager. It is alleged that, in order to cajole Richardson into entering this contract, Healy called and wrote to Richardson in New York often. On February 9, 1982, a letter allegedly signed by Richardson was sent to Cronson purportedly terminating Richardson's contract with Roundball. Cronson alleges that thereafter he had several conversations with Richardson during which Richardson refused to confirm that he sent the letter or to insist upon compliance therewith. Cronson alleges that one month later, Healy was in New York to meet with Richardson to continue his efforts to persuade him to leave Roundball for PSM. Healy allegedly spoke with Richardson at length in New York during this visit. Healy also allegedly attended a Knick game at Madison Square Garden with one of Richardson's friends to enlist his assistance in persuading Richardson to disavow Roundball. Healy also persisted to writing and calling both Cronson and Richardson in New York.

 Plaintiff alleges that despite Healy's efforts another contract was executed between Roundball and Richardson on May 27, 1982, and that on August 20, 1982 Richardson wrote a letter to Healy reaffirming his relationship with Roundball and stating that Roundball would continue to act as his exclusive agent.

 One month later, Healy apparently again came to New York. This time, Healy and Richardson met with Kevin Ward, an account executive for Merrill Lynch at its New York office. Ward indicated that "Richardson, at Healy's urging" instructed Ward that the power-of-attorney in favor of Roundball and/or Cronson had been revoke and that all future instructions would come from Healy. During this period, Healy was also apparently communicating with Richardson's New York employer, purporting to be Richardson's exclusive agent and attempting to renegotiate his employment contract.

 DISCUSSION

 PSM moves to dismiss this claim on a variety of grounds, only one of which merits discussion.* PSM argues that it is not subject to suit in this Court, apparently because this Court purportedly lacks personal jurisdiction over it. At the outset, the Court should set out some basic parameters that apply to questions of in personam jurisdiction.

 State law dictates whether this Court has personal jurisdiction over a party in a diversity action. Arrowsmith v. United Press International, 320 F.2d 219 (2d Cir. 1963)(en banc). The burden is on the plaintiff to establish that the Court has jurisdiction over the defendant. Marine Midland Bank, N.A. v. Miller, 664 F.2d 899 (2d Cir. 1981). At this state of the proceedings, plaintiff can carry that burden simply by making a prima facie showing that jurisdiction exists. Hoffritz for Cutlery, Inc. v. Amajac, Ltd., 763 F.2d 55, 57 (2d Cir. 1985); Beacon Enters., Inc. v. Menzies, 715 F.2d 757, 768 (2d Cir. 1983). Moreover, the Court construes the ...


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