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HASENFUS v. CORPORATE AIR SERVS.

October 27, 1988

EUGENE HASENFUS and SALLY HASENFUS, Plaintiffs,
v.
CORPORATE AIR SERVICES, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER

 BARRINGTON D. PARKER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 In this diversity proceeding, plaintiffs Eugene and Sally Hasenfus, husband and wife, seek to recover damages from defendants Corporate Air Services ("Corporate Air"), Southern Air Transport ("Southern Air"), Richard Secord ("Secord") and Albert Hakim ("Hakim"). Their claim for damages stems from an alleged breach of a written employment contract between Eugene Hasenfus and Corporate Air. Plaintiffs allege that Corporate Air is a mere facade dominated and controlled by the other defendants to carry out their wrongful and unlawful purposes. *fn1"

 Plaintiffs advance a variety of contract and tort claims including: breach of contract, tortious breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, strict liability in tort, negligence, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and conversion. (Complaint paras. 36-77.) Sally Hasenfus was not a party to the contract. Her claims appear to be based on three broad allegations against all defendants, charging them with negligent misrepresentations and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

 This matter is before the Court on the motions of defendants Southern Air and Secord to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), (3) and (6), and forum non conveniens. Secord also seeks to dismiss plaintiffs' claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, contending that this cause of action is not recognized under District of Columbia law. Defendant Hakim has moved to set aside the July 19, 1988 default entered against him, asserting that the purported service of process was improper and legally insufficient.

 For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds and concludes that a fair and careful reading of plaintiffs' 22-page, 77-paragraph prolix complaint raises serious questions as to any reasonable basis for asserting personal jurisdiction over any defendant. Likewise, a fair and careful reading of the complaint sheds little, if any, reasonable justification for a claim of venue. Defendants are entitled to relief as provided herein.

 BACKGROUND

 A.

 None of the parties to this litigation are District of Columbia residents. Plaintiffs at all times were Wisconsin residents. At no time did they have contacts with any defendant in the District of Columbia. Defendants Southern Air and Corporate Air are foreign corporations incorporated in the states of Florida and Pennsylvania, respectively. Their principal business residences are Florida and Central America. (Complaint, paras. 3 and 4.) There is no allegation that either corporation had at any time established residences or were present in the District. Defendants Secord and Hakim are residents of the states of Virginia and California, respectively. (paras. 5 and 6.)

 Only if one accepts and gives credence to vague, unsupported and conclusory allegations can it be determined that any of the nine claims arise from events that occurred in this jurisdiction. The complaint does not allege that either plaintiff had conversations, contacts or interfaced in any manner with the defendants in the District of Columbia or that any transaction in connection with this litigation occurred in the District. Nor does the complaint allege that plaintiffs sustained injury in the District. All of the events which support the nine causes of action occurred in Florida, several Central American countries, and probably the state of Wisconsin. Moreover, it is surprising that plaintiffs' lengthy complaint fails to mention and places no reliance upon the controlling local long-arm statute. D.C. Code Ann. ยง 13-423(a), (b) (1981).

 B.

 According to the complaint, an alleged written employment contract between Eugene Hasenfus and defendant Corporate Air, was first discussed and presented to Eugene Hasenfus by William J. Cooper ("Cooper"). The contract was later executed sometime in July 1986. (paras. 19 and 20.) Three months later, Cooper died in an airplane crash in Nicaragua. (paras. 29 and 30.) Allegedly, Cooper was acting as an agent and employee of Corporate Air and the defendants when he solicited and fraudulently induced Hasenfus to sign the contract. All conversations and activities between Corporate Air and Hasenfus took place either in Florida, Central America and possibly Wisconsin.

 There is no allegation in the complaint that either plaintiff had ever corresponded, seen, talked or interfaced with Cooper in the District. Plaintiffs fail to allege that the Hasenfus-Corporate Air contract was performed or breached in the District. There is no allegation that any tortious act or any resulting injury to either plaintiff occurred in the District. Rather, it is clear from the complaint that all of Eugene Hasenfus' activities as a Corporate Air employee occurred either in Florida or Central America.

 C.

 In the General Allegations section of the complaint, paras. 13-35, plaintiffs describe an operation and organization referred to as "the Enterprise", a private undertaking directed by Lt. Col. Oliver North ("North") and designed to provide military and other assistance for Contra forces opposing the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. (para. 17.) Plaintiffs believed its "nerve center" was located in the District of Columbia, and that Secord and Hakim were extensively involved with North in its operations. North was not named as a defendant in the complaint.

 D.

 In the opening pages of their complaint (paras. 7, 10 and 11), plaintiffs label Cooper as the defendants' agent. Furthermore, plaintiffs allege that each defendant was the agent of the other, acting within the scope of the agency. They also allege that each defendant was a co-conspirator with the other acting in furtherance of the conspiracy.

 Defendants claim that these allegations are superfluous and without any factual basis. A searching analysis of plaintiffs' complaint and their opposing memoranda to defendants' motions clearly show that their allegations are conclusory and fall short of a prima facie showing.

 ANALYSIS

 A. Personal Jurisdiction

 Whether this Court may properly exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, depends upon an application of both the District of Columbia long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. First Chicago International v. United Exchange Co., Ltd., 655 F. Supp. 787, 790 (D.D.C. 1987), aff'd in part, 267 U.S. App. D.C. 27, 836 F.2d 1375 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over company and its officers where plaintiff failed to make a prima facie showing that company purposefully established minimum contacts or that it participated in a conspiracy); Mizlou Television Network, Inc. v. National Broadcasting ...


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