The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, Senior District Judge.
Defendants Indiana Black Expo (the "Expo") and Charles Williams
("Williams") have each moved, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, for summary judgment dismissing the
complaint of plaintiff pro se J. Morris Anderson ("Anderson")
for lack of personal jurisdiction over the named defendants.
Alternatively, Expo has challenged venue in this jurisdiction,
and requests either dismissal or transfer to the Southern
District of Indiana as a result. For the reasons set forth below,
these motions shall be granted to the extent that they request
dismissal due to the absence of in personam jurisdiction over
either Williams or the Expo.
Anderson is a Pennsylvania resident and the owner of the Miss
Black America Beauty Pageant (the "Pageant"), the principal place
of business of which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Expo is an Indiana not-for-profit corporation, with its
principal place of business located in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Williams is an Indiana resident, and at all times relevant to
the instant action was President of the Expo.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
The facts set forth below are taken from the parties' Rule 56.1
statements, affidavits, and exhibits, and are not in dispute
except where otherwise indicated.
Anderson is the founder and Executive Producer of the Pageant,
and has produced the Pageant for a not-insignificant number of
years. In 1991, Anderson filed suit against boxer Mike Tyson
("Tyson"), Williams, and the Expo in the wake of well-publicized
accusations against Tyson for the sexual assault of various
Pageant participants. The Pageant that year had been held in
Indianapolis, Indiana. In that action (the "First Pennsylvania
Action"), which was filed in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania, Anderson alleged various injuries arising out of
the negative publicity associated with Tyson's behavior.
According to Anderson, repeated efforts were made to convince
him to settle the First Pennsylvania Action. Discussions to that
end took place in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and
Washington, D.C., with Don King ("King") taking an especially
active role in pushing settlement. In an October 19, 1991 meeting
in Washington, D.C., the terms of a settlement agreement were
finally agreed upon. Though Williams was not present in
Washington for that initial meeting, during a meeting with
lawyers the following day Williams participated telephonically,
confirming his acceptance of the details of the agreement. In his
papers, Anderson has pressed that both King and Don King
Enterprises ("DKE"), as well as non-party Thadeus E. Watley
("Watley"), functioned as both the Expo's and Williams' agent
throughout settlement negotiations.
However, neither Expo nor Williams signed any formal agreement
in Washington, D.C. Instead, approximately a week thereafter
Anderson traveled with Watley to New York City to meet with
Williams and King at King's residence. There, after some initial
hesitation concerning the wisdom of signing any agreement without
first consulting the Expo's own counsel, Williams committed the
Expo to the agreement to which it had already devoted itself in
The terms of the written agreement (the "agreement") between
Anderson and the Expo, dated October 30, 1991, are as follows:
Indiana Black Expo, Inc. ("IBE"), and J. Morris
Anderson Production Company, the producer of the Miss
Black America ("MBA") pageant, for good and valuable
consideration, the receipt and adequacy of which is
hereby acknowledged, agree:
(1) The MBA pageant shall hereafter be an event of
the IBE; and
(2) IBE shall provide the site, set and lights for
the production of the MBA pageant.
This agreement shall apply for the 1992 IBE and MBA
pageant. If J. Morris Anderson Production Company
delivers a television audience of a minimum of 40%
ADI, then J. Morris Anderson Production Company shall
have an option to extend this agreement for the
following year. Upon the same condition, J. Morris
Anderson Production Company shall have the same
option through the year 1997.
The agreement, which was signed by Anderson and by Williams on
the Expo's behalf, contained an addendum that "[t]he IBE has the
option to sell two (2) commercial spots MBA pageant national TV
special & retain the profit."
While the Expo hosted the Pageant as promised in 1992, in 1993
it refused to host the Pageant, explaining that the Pageant had
failed to comply with the agreement's television market share
provision. The Expo notified Anderson of this refusal in June of
1993, shortly before taping was scheduled to begin in
Indianapolis. As a result of this refusal to host the 1993
Pageant, Anderson was required to radically alter the production
of the Pageant.
In 1994, Anderson filed suit once again in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, this
time seeking recovery from Tyson, King, DKE, and Williams for
breach of contract, misrepresentation, and assault. Discovery
commenced in that action, as did motion practice.
In an opinion issued June 1, 1994, the Honorable Clarence C.
Newcomer found that personal jurisdiction could not be exercised
over either Williams or the Expo, explaining that "plaintiff is
unable to prove that the defendants' ties to the state are
sufficiently direct," and that their "indirect contacts with the
state were not that which would make them anticipate being
subject to a suit in Pennsylvania." Anderson v. Tyson, No. CIV.
A. 94-0528, 1994 WL 237365, at *2 (E.D.Pa. Jun. 1, 1994).
In an another opinion, issued November 4, 1994, Judge Newcomer
dismissed Anderson's claims against King and DKE, ruling in part
that any oral contract between King or DKE and Anderson would be
barred by New York's Statute of Frauds, and that Anderson could
not recover for misrepresentation merely by characterizing an
otherwise infirm breach of contract claim as a claim for fraud.
See Anderson v. Tyson, Civ. A. No. 94-0528, 1994 WL 630207, at
*3 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 4, 1994). Judge Newcomer also held that
Anderson's claim for assault would be dismissed for lack of
standing, and because Anderson had failed to allege either King's
or DKE's participation in the assault. See id. at *4. It was
further observed that Tyson, who had never been served, was not a
proper party to the action. See id. at *1. Judge Newcomer's
rulings were subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit.
Anderson's complaint in this action, which essentially seeks
recovery against the Expo and Williams for the Expo's failure to
satisfy its obligations to the Pageant under the terms of their
1991 agreement, was filed on May 28, 1999. The complaint alleges
fifteen causes of action, the first and fourteenth sounding in
contract and dependant upon the exercise of diversity
jurisdiction, and the remaining causes of action ...