The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH
This matter is before the Court on the motions of both defendants to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for forum non conveniens. Defendant Zapol asks, in the alternative, that service be quashed as to him.
Plaintiff Mary L. Aiken is a resident of the District of Columbia. She alleges that defendant Lawrence Zapol, a salesman for defendant Lustine Chevrolet, Inc., falsely and fraudulently represented to her that she could purchase a new car from Lustine Chevrolet with the right to return the car within 10 days of the purchase date if she were not fully satisfied therewith. She alleges that this misrepresentation was made with the full knowledge of defendant Lustine. In reliance on the false statement, she traded in her 1970 auto and purchased a 1973 auto. She was not, however, satisfied with the new car and attempted to return it within 10 days of the date of purchase. Lustine refused to permit the return of the 1973 car. Her claim here is based on the actions of Zapol, acting as Lustine's agent, or (alternatively) on Lustine's negligent training and supervision of Zapol. The action thus sounds in tort.
Lustine Chevrolet is a Maryland corporation located in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Zapol is a Maryland resident. The subject matter jurisdiction of this Court is based on 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (1970) (diversity of citizenship).
Plaintiff asserts personal jurisdiction over both defendants on the basis of D.C. Code Ann. § 13-423 (1973). This is the "long-arm" statute of the District of Columbia.
II. Personal Jurisdiction.
An analysis of the "long-arm's" reach usually has two levels. The first of these concerns whether the terms of the statute are met. The second explores whether, assuming the conditions of the statute itself are fulfilled, the would-be defendant has sufficient contacts with the jurisdiction of the plaintiff's forum as to make the assertion of jurisdiction over him constitutionally permissible. Here, however, defendant Lustine has conceded that -- if the terms of the statute are met -- it has such contact with the District of Columbia as to permit an assertion of personal jurisdiction over it.
Resolution of the question before the Court, therefore, turns solely on an interpretation of the local long-arm statute.
Plaintiff urges that two sections of the statute support the assertion of jurisdiction over Lustine.
The first of these two subsections
provides that jurisdiction may be asserted over one who has contracted to supply goods and services in the District of Columbia.
The second subsection
provides for jurisdiction over one who causes tortious injury in the District of Columbia by acts or omissions outside the District. The Court has jurisdiction if the putative tortfeasor "regularly does or solicits business, engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed, or services rendered, in the District of Columbia."
Lustine is a local car dealership. As such, it advertises heavily in the District of Columbia and makes sales to persons who are residents of that jurisdiction. There can be but little doubt that Lustine solicits business in the District of Columbia and derives substantial revenues from goods used or consumed there. Two questions, however, remain.
The first of these is the impact of D.C. Code Ann. § 13-423(b) (1973), which reads as follows:
When jurisdiction over a person is based solely upon this section, only a claim for relief arising from acts enumerated in this section may be asserted against him.
The quoted language, when read in conjunction with D.C. Code Ann. § 13-423(a)(4) (1973), would at first glance seem to indicate that jurisdiction is appropriate only if the tortious injury alleged resulted from the doing or soliciting of business in the District, the use or consumption of goods in the District or some other persistent course of conduct in ...