The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, District Judge
This Opinion addresses whether there is personal jurisdiction in New York over a Florida hotel that is party to a franchise agreement with a Delaware corporation in a tort action arising out of the near-drowning of a Florida resident in the hotel swimming pool. Defendant Devanjali Inc., doing business as Comfort Inn & Suites Tropicana Field ("Comfort Inn"), has moved to dismiss the claim against it for lack of personal jurisdiction. The plaintiff, Angela Tese-Milner, is the Trustee in Bankruptcy of the Chapter 7 case of Sarah Louie, the accident victim. Plaintiff asserts personal jurisdiction in this diversity action pursuant to New York's long arm statute, N.Y. C.P.L.R. §§ 301, 302(a)(1). For the reasons set forth below, Comfort Inn's motion is granted.
The following facts are taken from the complaint and the parties' submissions on the instant motion. They are undisputed except where otherwise noted.
The lawsuit arises out of an accident (the "Accident") that took place on January 2, 2004, on the premises of defendant Comfort Inn, a hotel located in St. Petersburg, Florida. On that day, Sarah Louie, a Florida resident, conducted door-to-door sales on behalf of her employer Ad EFX Promotions, Inc. ("EFX") with four co-workers. While the group stopped for dinner at a restaurant near the Tropicana Field baseball stadium in St. Petersburg, one member called the defendant Comfort Inn to reserve a room.*fn1 After driving to the hotel, one individual checked into the room at the front desk while the others went directly to the room.
Due to EFX regulations, Ms. Louie could not take a shower in the overcrowded room and went to the Comfort Inn hot tub and pool area with her soap and towel. While the events between Louie's departure for the pool area and her subsequent accident have yet to be explained, Louie nearly drowned in the Comfort Inn swimming pool. When her colleagues pulled her out of the bottom of the pool's deep end, she was unconscious and not breathing. A colleague administered CPR and hotel personnel called for emergency medical assistance. Upon their arrival, emergency medical personnel performed a tracheatomony upon Louie and took her to a local hospital. After seven weeks of treatment in Florida, Louie's family brought her to New York where she currently lives with her parents. As a result of the Accident, Louie alleges that she sustained serious injuries, including brain damage.
B. The Complaint Louie Declared Bankruptcy Due to Unpaid Medical Expenses Exceeding $300,000
On October 13, 2004, Angela Tese-Milner was appointed the Chapter 7 Trustee for Louie's case. Plaintiff filed this action on March 1, 2006 against defendants Comfort Inn; its franchisor Choice Hotels International, Inc. ("Choice"); Charles A. Ledsinger, Jr., the president of Choice;*fn2 EFX; and Dean Chung, an EFX officer. The complaint alleges that the Accident and Louie's resulting injuries were caused by the negligence of Comfort Inn and the other defendants.*fn3
The Comfort Inn is owned and operated by Devanjali, Inc. ("Devanjali"). Devanjali is incorporated in the state of Florida and maintains its principal place of business in that state. Devanjali is not licensed or authorized to do business in the state of New York. It does not maintain any offices or bank accounts in New York, nor does it have any employees or telephone numbers based in New York.
Devanjali entered into a franchise agreement with Choice pursuant to which it was granted a license, as a franchisee, to use, inter alia, the marks and designated logo of Choice in operating the Comfort Inn. According to the terms of this agreement, Devanjali paid Choice a non-refundable affiliation fee. This agreement required Devanjali to pay Choice at least three monthly fees once it had begun to rent rooms at the Comfort Inn: a royalty fee, a marketing fee, and a reservation fee.
No Comfort Inn employees or agents travel outside of the state of Florida for marketing or sales purposes. The only business-related activity for which Comfort Inn's employees or agents travel outside of the state of Florida is the Choice annual meeting, which involves all of the corporation's hotel franchisees in the United States.
Comfort Inn does not create any of its own marketing, promotions, or publicity. It does not specifically allocate any money to advertising any of its facilities. Comfort Inn has not created and does not maintain a website on the internet, nor has it ever requested another individual or entity to do so on its behalf. Any websites ...