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Oceanside Auto Center, Inc. v. Pearl Associates Auto Sales LLC

United States District Court, E.D. New York

May 7, 2014

OCEANSIDE AUTO CENTER, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PEARL ASSOCIATES AUTO SALES LLC and ALAN LEVENTHAL, Defendants.

Kenneth Adam Novikoff, Esq., Scott Green, Esq., Tamika N. Hardy, Esq., Rivkin Radler LLP, Uniondale, NY, for Plaintiff.

Joseph Tripodi, Esq., Kranjac Tripodi & Partners LLP, New York, NY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Oceanside Auto Center, Inc. ("Plaintiff") originally commenced this breach of contract action against defendants Pearl Associates Auto Sales LLC ("Pearl Associates") and Alan Leventhal ("Leventhal, " and together with Pearl Associates, "Defendants") on September 6, 2013. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on November 4, 2013. Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction (Docket Entry 18). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff is a New York corporation with offices in Deer Park, New York. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) Pearl Associates is a New Jersey corporation with its corporate offices in Teterboro, New Jersey. (Am. Compl. ¶ 5.) Leventhal is an individual residing in New Jersey and the sole owner and proprietor of Pearl Associates. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6-7.) Plaintiff and Pearl Associates are wholesale and retail sellers of automobiles, with a long history of business together. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9.) Generally, Plaintiff would purchase used automobiles from Pearl Associates for resale. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.)

In February 2013, though, Leventhal contacted Plaintiff's owner, Michael Heller ("Heller"), about a new business arrangement. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) Pearl Associates would purchase automobiles from another dealer-Towne Auto Center ("Towne")-in New Jersey, Plaintiff would pay Towne, and then Pearl Associates would sell the purchased automobiles. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) After Pearl Associates completed the sale, it would use the proceeds to pay Plaintiff back the amount Plaintiff paid to Towne and the parties would share in the profits or losses on a 50/50 basis. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.)

Under the First Cause of Action, Plaintiff alleges that Pearl Associates purchased thirty-eight vehicles between April 1, 2013 and July 22, 2013 on behalf of Plaintiff pursuant to the agreement. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff paid Towne for those vehicles and Pearl Associates has sold them. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-13.) "However, Pearl Associates has breached their agreement by failing to pay Plaintiff the purchase price of the automobiles and has also failed to pay any profits earned in connection with the sales." (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff has made a demand for $863, 200.00, but to no avail. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) Moreover, Leventhal has personally guaranteed and acknowledged that he is liable for the requested sum, with interest from August 6, 2013. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.)

Under the Second Cause of Action, Plaintiff alleges "[t]hat an account was taken and stated between the Plaintiff and Pearl Associates which showed a balance of eight hundred sixty three thousand two hundred dollars ($863, 200.00) due and owing by Pearl Associates to the Plaintiff." (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) No part of that sum has been paid. (Am. Compl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff again reiterates that Leventhal has personally guaranteed the amount. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.)

As to personal jurisdiction over Defendants, the Amended Complaint alleges: "This Court maintains jurisdiction over the nondomicilliary Defendants pursuant to New York's longarm statute N.Y. CPLR 302(a)(1). Defendants engaged in a series of business transactions within the State of New York and there is a substantial and direct relationship between the transactions and the claims asserted." (Am. Compl. ¶ 3.)

DISCUSSION

Defendants now move to dismiss the Amended Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Court will first address the applicable legal standard before turning to the merits of Defendants' motion.

I. Legal Standard

"A plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating personal jurisdiction over a person or entity against whom it seeks to bring suit." Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, 609 F.3d 30, 34 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). The Court has "considerable procedural leeway" in resolving a pretrial motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction: it may decide the motion on the basis of the parties' affidavits by themselves, "permit discovery in aid of the motion[, ] or... conduct an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the motion." Marine Midland Bank, N.A. v. Miller, 664 F.2d 899, 904 (2d Cir. 1981) (citations omitted). A plaintiff's precise burden depends on how the Court elects to address the jurisdictional issue. Id . Short of a "full-blown evidentiary hearing on the motion, the plaintiff need make only a prima facie showing of jurisdiction through its own affidavits and supporting materials." Id . While a plaintiff will still have to establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence at trial or a pretrial evidentiary hearing, "until such a hearing is held, a prima facie showing suffices, notwithstanding any controverting presentation by the ...


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