Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

LOTT v. BURNING TREE CLUB

December 22, 1980

James LOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
BURNING TREE CLUB, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PRATT

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on defendant's motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow, we find that defendant's motion must be granted.

 Background

 Plaintiff, a District of Columbia resident, is a former employee of defendant Burning Tree Club, Inc. (the Club), a private country club and Maryland corporation located in Bethesda. On December 17, 1979, the Club's office manager notified the Montgomery County, Maryland police that $ 1,600 had been stolen from the office's cash drawer. The Club's bartender told the police that he had seen plaintiff leaving the office around that time the money was taken. After an investigation, Maryland police obtained a warrant for plaintiff's arrest. The warrant was forwarded to the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department for service. In March, 1980 plaintiff was arrested in the District of Columbia and incarcerated briefly. He refused to waive extradition. Extradition proceedings were commenced and on May 7, 1980, plaintiff appeared at the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. He was incarcerated for ten days and released on bail. The state's attorney subsequently entered a nolle prosequi to the theft charges filed against plaintiff.

 Plaintiff then brought this diversity action for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff asserts that personal jurisdiction over the Club exists pursuant to two provisions of the District of Columbia long-arm statute, District of Columbia Code §§ 13-423(a)(3) and (a)(4). *fn1" The Club now moves to dismiss on the grounds that this court lacks personal jurisdiction over it under either section of the long-arm statute relied on by plaintiff.

 Discussion

 In order for a court properly to assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, service of process on the nonresident must be both authorized by statute and within the limits set by the due process clause of the United States Constitution. Founding Church of Scientology v. Verlag, 175 U.S. App. D.C. 402, 536 F.2d 429, 432 (D.C.Cir.1976), citing International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945). Federal courts are authorized pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4(e) and 4(f) to look to state law to determine in what manner and under what circumstances a nonresident party can be subjected to the jurisdiction of a federal district court. See United States v. First National City Bank, 379 U.S. 378, 381, 85 S. Ct. 528, 530, 13 L. Ed. 2d 365 (1965); Gatewood v. Fiat, S. p. A., 199 U.S. App. D.C. 238, 617 F.2d 820, 822 n.3 (D.C.Cir.1980). We therefore must refer to the District of Columbia long-arm statute, D.C.Code § 13-423 (1973), to determine if plaintiff has met the threshold requirement of a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction over the Club. The District of Columbia courts have interpreted the long-arm statute's scope to be coextensive with the limits of the due process clause. Environmental Research International, Inc. v. Lockwood Greene Engineers, Inc., 355 A.2d 808, 810-811 (D.C.App.1976) (en banc ); Rose v. Silver, 394 A.2d 1368, 1369 (D.C.App.1978). Nevertheless, a two-step analysis is required: we must first determine whether the long-arm statute permits the exercise of jurisdiction over defendant; if so, we then inquire whether the exercise of jurisdiction over defendant comports with constitutional due process requirements. Gatewood v. Fiat, supra, at 823; Aiken v. Lustine Chevrolet, Inc., 392 F. Supp. 883, 884 (D.D.C.1975).

 Plaintiff argues that this court may assert jurisdiction over the Club under either District of Columbia Code § 13-423(a)(3) or § 13-423(a)(4). Those sections provide:

 
(a) A District of Columbia court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, *fn2" who acts directly or by an agent, as to a claim for relief arising from the person's
 
(3) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission in the District of Columbia; (or)
 
(4) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission outside the District of Columbia if he 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.

 These proposed jurisdictional bases will be discussed in turn.

 Section 13-423(a)(3) Tortious Act and Injury in the District

 District of Columbia Code § 13-423(a)(3) authorizes jurisdiction over a person who causes tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission in the District. "The statute clearly separates the act from the tortious injury and affords personal jurisdiction over non-residents only when both act and injury occur in the District." Margoles v. Johns, 333 F. Supp. 942, 944-45 (D.D.C.1971), aff'd, 157 U.S. App. D.C. 209, 483 F.2d 1212 (D.C.Cir.1973). The injury here may be inferred from plaintiff's uncontested allegation that he was arrested and detained by District of Columbia police officers in the District of Columbia. *fn3" The Club's only "acts," however, were reporting the theft to the Maryland police and cooperating in their investigation. Plaintiff alleges nonetheless that the Club acted "directly or through an agent in the District of Columbia." Plaintiff's Memorandum at 2. Specifically plaintiff argues that the Club designated the Montgomery County police as its "agent" and that both the referral of the warrant by Montgomery County police to the District of Columbia police and plaintiff's arrest and detention by the D.C. police therefore may be attributed to the Club. Plaintiff states, "(Defendant) knew that plaintiff was a resident of the District of Columbia and that his arrest would most likely be effected in the District of Columbia." Plaintiff's Memorandum at 3. Plaintiff relies on Mandelkorn v. Patrick, 359 F. Supp. 692 (D.D.C.1973), in which the court asserted jurisdiction over nonresident defendants who allegedly had conspired with District of Columbia police officers and others to deny the plaintiffs' constitutional rights. Since at least one of the overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy had occurred in the District of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.