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Lebron v. Encarnacion

United States District Court, E.D. New York

May 31, 2017

ASHLEY LEBRON, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWIN ELPIDIO ENCARNACION, Defendant.

          Robert Hiltzik, Esq. Attorney for the Plaintiff

          Lanza, Reich & Daniel Attorneys for the Defendant By Robert J. Lanza, Esq. Richard C. Ebeling, Esq., Of Counsel

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION & ORDER

          ARTHUR D. SPATT United States District Judge

         On August 22, 2016, the Plaintiff Ashley Lebron, a Nassau County resident, commenced this diversity action against the Defendant Edwin Elpidio Encarnacion, a citizen and permanent resident of the Dominican Republic, alleging various theories of New York tort liability.

         Presently before the Court is a motion by the Defendant, seeking to dismiss the complaint on the following grounds: (1) lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.”) 12(b)(2); (2) forum non conveniens; and (3) failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that personal jurisdiction over the Defendant is lacking, and therefore, the portion of the motion seeking relief under Rule 12(b)(2) is granted.

         I. Background

         The Defendant is a professional baseball player who, during the relevant time period, was employed by the Toronto Blue Jays.

         He met the Plaintiff for the first time on August 20, 2013, following a game between the Blue Jays and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

         The two carried on a non-romantic relationship until mid-February 2016, when, during a weekend visit to the Dominican Republic, the two had sexual relations.

         On or about February 17, 2016, as the Plaintiff was returning home to New York, she began experiencing symptoms of, and was later diagnosed with, genital herpes and chlamydia.

         The gravamen of this action is the Plaintiff's contention that she contracted these sexually-transmitted diseases (“STDs”) from the Defendant; that he knew at the time of their liaison that he was infected with the STDs; and that he tortiously failed to disclose that fact to her.

         II. Discussion

         Relevant to this opinion, the Defendant contends that the complaint must be dismissed because the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over him.

         A. The Standard of Review under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2)

         Rule 12(b)(2) authorizes a party to seek dismissal on the ground that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over him. However, as the party attempting to invoke the Court's jurisdiction, it is the Plaintiff that bears the burden of showing that personal jurisdiction exists over the Defendant. See Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 566 (2d Cir. 1996).

         “Prior to discovery, a plaintiff may defeat a motion to dismiss based on legally sufficient allegations of jurisdiction.” Id. (citing Ball v. Metallurgie Hoboken-Overpelt, S.A., 902 F.2d 194, 197 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 854, 111 S.Ct. 150, 112 L.Ed.2d 116 (1990)). In doing so, “the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing, ” and “[t]he allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits.” MacDermid, Inc. v. Deiter, 702 F.3d 725, 727 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Seetransport Wiking Trader Schiffarhtsgesellschaft MBH & Co., Kommanditgesellschaft v. Navimpex Centrala Navala, 989 F.2d 572, 580 (2d Cir. 1993)).

         B. The Applicable Legal Framework - A Two-Part Test

         In resolving questions of personal jurisdiction in a diversity action, the Court must conduct a two-part inquiry: “First, it must determine whether the plaintiff has shown that the defendant is amenable to service of process under the forum state's laws; and second, it must assess whether the court's assertion of jurisdiction under these laws comports with the requirements of due process.” See Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 84 F.3d at 567.

         1. Part One: The Defendant's Amenability to Suit under New York's Laws

         First, the Court must determine whether, under the facts and circumstances of a given case, New York law supports the exercise of either general jurisdiction (also called “all-purpose jurisdiction”) or specific jurisdiction (also called “case-linked jurisdiction”). See Brown v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 814 F.3d 619, 624 (2d Cir. 2016). General jurisdiction “permits a court to adjudicate any cause of action against the [ ] defendant, wherever arising, and whoever the plaintiff, ” while specific jurisdiction is only “available when the cause of action sued upon arises out of the defendant's activities in [the] state.” Id. (citing Chloé v. Queen Bee of Beverly Hills, LLC, 616 F.3d 158, 164 (2d Cir. 2010)).

         a. General (or “All-Purpose”) Jurisdiction

         The authority for New York courts to exercise general jurisdiction over a non-domiciliary is found in New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) § 301, which provides that “[a] court may exercise such jurisdiction over persons, property, or status as might have been exercised heretofore.” This provision has been interpreted as authorizing jurisdiction over non-domiciliaries “when their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum state.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Organizations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 317, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945)).

         b. Specific (or “Case-Linked”) Jurisdiction

         By contrast, the statutory basis for specific jurisdiction is found in New York's long-arm statute, which, as to causes of action specifically arising from the Defendant's conduct in the state, allows the Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-domiciliary who:

1. transacts any business within the state or contracts anywhere to supply goods or services in the state; or
2. commits a tortious act within the state, except as to a cause of action for defamation of character arising from the act; or
3. commits a tortious act without the state causing injury to a person or property within the state, except as to a cause of action for defamation of character arising from the act, if he
(i) regularly does or solicits business, or engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed or services rendered, in the state, or
(ii) expects or should reasonably expect the act to have consequences in the state and derives substantial revenue from ...

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