A primary purpose of the New York tort law regime is to deter wrongful conduct while concurrently ensuring that New York residents who are the victims of such conduct are made whole. New York has an extremely strong interest in assuring that victims of fraud are afforded adequate redress. The Swiss interest in this litigation is attenuated at best. While a Swiss citizen and partnership are defendants in this action, the Swiss interest lies only in seeing that its nationals are not deprived of a fair hearing on the merits. Clearly, a hearing in a United States federal district court adequately addresses this interest. As such, under New York conflicts principles this Court must employ New York law in deciding this case.
II. Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment or Judgment on the Pleadings With Respect to Plaintiff's Fifth Claim For Relief -- The Joint Venture Claim
A party seeking summary judgment must demonstrate "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact" such that it "is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 932, 94 L. Ed. 2d 762, 107 S. Ct. 1570 (1987). "It is well settled that a court should grant a motion for summary judgment only if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, presents no genuine issue of material fact." Cable Science Corp. v. Rochdale Village Inc., 920 F.2d 147, 151 (2d Cir. 1990); see United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176, 82 S. Ct. 993 (1962); Owens v. New York City Hous. Auth., 934 F.2d 405, 408 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 116 L. Ed. 2d 451, 112 S. Ct. 431 (1991); see also Lendino v. Trans Union Credit Info. Co., 970 F.2d 1110, 1112 (2d Cir. 1992) (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142, 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1970)) ("It has long been the rule that 'on summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in [the moving party's] materials must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.'"). The Supreme Court has noted that whether an issue is genuine and material for purposes of summary judgment depends on "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Adickes, 398 U.S. at 157.
"In considering [a] motion [for summary judgment], the court's responsibility is not to resolve disputed issues of fact but to assess whether there are any factual issues to be tried, while resolving ambiguities and drawing reasonable inferences against the moving party." Knight, 804 F.2d at 11 (citations omitted). Moreover, the Second Circuit has indicated that where, as here, the parties have not had the benefit of extensive discovery at the time a motion for summary judgment is made, such a motion should seldom be granted. See, e.g., Schlesinger Inv. Partnership v. Fluor Corp., 671 F.2d 739, 743 (2d Cir. 1982)
("Summary judgment should rarely be granted . . . when the plaintiff has not had an opportunity to resort to discovery procedures."); see also Grant Thornton v. Syracuse Sav. Bank, 961 F.2d 1042, 1046 (2d Cir. 1992); Quinn v. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp., 613 F.2d 438, 445 (2d Cir. 1980).
Summary judgment on plaintiff's fifth claim for relief is inappropriate. Because discovery has not yet occurred, plaintiff has not had the opportunity to explore the factual underpinnings of this claim. Moreover, material issues of fact abound. What, if any, joint venture agreement was entered into by the parties is unclear. This Court cannot, on the basis of the record currently before it, conclude that this claim either has or lacks merit. Summary judgment therefore must be denied.
Moreover, judgment on the pleadings with respect to this claim is similarly inappropriate. Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "after the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). A Rule 12(c) motion "provides a means of disposing of cases when the material facts are not in dispute and a judgment on the merits can be achieved by focusing on the content of the pleadings and any facts of which the court will take judicial notice." 5A Charles A. Wright and Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1367, at 509-10 (1990) (hereinafter "Wright & Miller"). In order for the Court to grant a Rule 12(c) motion, the movant must demonstrate that no issue of material fact exists requiring submission to a jury. See United States v. New Silver Palace Restaurant, Inc., 810 F. Supp. 440, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18716, *3 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 25, 1992); see also Wright & Miller § 1367, at 517-18 (Federal judges are hesitant "to grant a motion under Rule 12(c) unless the movant clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."). In evaluating a motion for judgment on the pleadings, "a court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts alleged in the complaint and refrain from dismissing the action unless the non-movant can prove no set of facts that would entitle it to relief." See McNeill v. New York City Hous. Auth., 719 F. Supp. 233, 256 (S.D.N.Y. 1989).
Under this test it is clear that the amended complaint is sufficient to withstand defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff has delineated a claim and alleged sufficient facts to state a claim on which relief could be granted. As such, judgment on the pleadings is inappropriate.
Defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint is DENIED. Defendants' motion for summary judgment and/or for judgment on the pleadings is DENIED.
Dated: February 2, 1993
New York, New York
David N. Edelstein