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Topnotch Tennis Tours, LLC v. Global Tennis Connections Limited

United States District Court, E.D. New York

November 14, 2014

TOPNOTCH TENNIS TOURS, LLC, dba GRAND SLAM TENNIS TOURS, Plaintiff,
v.
GLOBAL TENNIS CONNECTIONS LIMITED, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

SANDRA L. TOWNES, District Judge.

Topnotch Tennis Tours, LLC ("Topnotch") filed this diversity action against Global Tennis Connections Limited ("Global Tennis") on August 28, 2013, alleging breach of contract and alternative claims for conversion, unjust enrichment, and promissory estoppel. (ECF No. 1.) Defendant Global Tennis filed its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) on April 26, 2014. (ECF No. 11.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is denied

LEGAL STANDARD

On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the court has jurisdiction over the defendant. In re Magnetic Audiotape Antitrust Litig., 334 F.3d 204, 206 (2d Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). Because Global Tennis brings this motion prior to discovery, Topnotch may defeat this motion "by making a prima facie showing of jurisdiction by way of the complaint's allegations, affidavits, and other supporting evidence." Mortg. Funding Corp. v. Boyer Lake Pointe, LC, 379 F.Supp.2d 282, 285 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) (citations omitted). "Furthermore, in considering a Rule 12(b)(2) motion, the pleadings and affidavits are to be construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-moving party, and all doubts are to be resolved in plaintiffs favor." Allied Dynamics Corp. v. Kennametal, Inc., 965 F.Supp.2d 276, 287 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) (citations omitted). However, conclusory statements, without supporting facts, will not suffice. Mirman v. Feiner, 900 F.Supp.2d 305, 309 (E.D.N.Y. 2012) (citation omitted).

BACKGROUND

The Court recites the following facts from the complaint and affidavits submitted by the parties. The Court assumes these facts to be true only for the purpose of deciding this motion and construes them in the light most favorable to Topnotch, the non-moving party.

This case arises from a contract dispute between Topnotch, a Vermont limited liability company with its principal place of business in Stowe, Vermont, and Global Tennis, a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Great Britain with its principal place of business in London, England. (Compl. ¶¶ 3-4, ECF No. 1.) Topnotch organizes tennis packages that include hotel accommodations, tickets to tennis tournaments, and meet-and-greet sessions with professional tennis players. ( Id. at ¶ 5.) Global Tennis scouts, represents, and promotes professional tennis players. ( Id. at ¶ 7.)

Andrew Chmura, president and owner of Topnotch, met John Morris, a Global Tennis director, at the 2012 U.S. Open in New York after previously discussing the possibility of doing business together. (Chmura Aff. ¶¶ 2, 25, ECF No. 12-1.) During this meeting, which lasted approximately one hour, Morris solicited Topnotch's sponsorship of players represented by Global Tennis. ( Id. at ¶ 27.) Morris and Chmura also discussed the purchase of Wimbledon tickets and the use of Topnotch's Wimbledon hospitality house. ( Id. at ¶ 31.) Morris indicated that he had a good contact for securing Wimbledon Debenture tickets. ( Id. at ¶ 33.) Debenture tickets cover a five-year period and include a badge that provides access to the Debenture Holder's Lounge, which provides "a certain prestige." ( Id. at ¶ 34.)

After this meeting, Chmura and Morris communicated via text message, e-mail, and telephone about Topnotch's purchase of Wimbledon tickets from Global Tennis. ( Id. at ¶ 38.) The parties' submissions do not indicate whether any of these communications were directed at New York, but Global Tennis states all of its communications originated in the UK. (Morris Aff. ¶ 9, ECF No. 11-1.) In January 2013, Cbmura and Morris met at the Australian Open to continue negotiating the purchase of Wimbledon tickets. (Cbmura Aff. ¶ 40.) The parties then signed a contract in Melbourne, Australia. ( Id. at ¶ 40; Morris Aff. ¶ 10.) The contract required Global Tennis to provide Topnotch 78 Wimbledon tickets. (Compl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 1.)

In 2013, Wimbledon was scheduled to begin on June 24. ( Id. ) Topnotch completed timely payment for the tickets by May 20, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 12.) The contract required Global Tennis to send the tickets to Topnotch by June 9, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 13.) After Global Tennis failed to deliver the tickets by June 9, Morris told Chmura that Morris had "picked [the tickets] up and noticed the 4 weren't together, it was an honest mistake and they have our 4 together but I need to collect them again and swap them over." ( Id. at ¶ 14.) But prior to the start of Wimbledon on June 24, Global Tennis provided Topnotch with only 24 of the 78 tickets. ( Id. at ¶ 16.) Topnotch secured replacement tickets at a cost of f-128, 100. ( Id. at ¶¶ 23-24.) However, because some of these tickets did not meet the promised standards, Topnotch refunded $60, 266 to its customers. ( Id. at ¶ 24.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Topnotch filed this diversity action against Global Tennis on August 28, 2013, alleging breach of contract and alternative claims for conversion, unjust enrichment, and promissory estoppel. (ECF No. 1.) Global Tennis filed this motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) on April 26, 2014. (ECF No. 11.) The parties conducted no discovery and the Court has not held an evidentiary hearing on the issue of personal jurisdiction.

DISCUSSION

"As a general rule, the amenability of a foreign corporation to suit in a federal court in a diversity action is determined in accordance with the law of the state where the court sits, with "federal law" entering the picture only for the purpose of deciding whether a states assertion of jurisdiction contravenes a constitutional guarantee." Bank Brussels Lambert v. Fiddler Gonzalez & Rodriguez, 171 F.3d 779, 784 (2d Cir. 1999) (quoting Arrowsmith v. United Press Int'l, 320 F.2d 219, 223 (2d Cir. 1963) (en banc)). This Court must determine: "(1) whether New York law would confer jurisdiction by New York courts over the defendant, and (2) whether the ...

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