Tricia Novak-Canzeri, d/b/a, The Canzeri Company, filed a Complaint, and later an Amended Complaint, seeking judgment against Defendants, HRH Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and HRH Princess Hend, citizens of Saudi Arabia who also have a residence in Miami, Florida. Plaintiff contends that she provided visa processing services for domestic servants employed by Defendants and that Defendants have not paid her for the services she delivered, all pursuant to an oral contract. Plaintiff pleads personal jurisdiction over Defendants in this diversity action under the District of Columbia long-arm statute, D.C.Code § 13-423.
Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., for failure to allege facts sufficient to satisfy the long-arm statute or the minimum contacts test under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff opposes the motion. A hearing on Defendants' Motion to dismiss was held on September 20, 1994. Neither Plaintiff nor Defendants filed an affidavit in connection with this motion. Upon a plain reading of the Amended Complaint, however, and a careful consideration of the papers filed by the parties, the arguments of counsel and the applicable law, the Court is persuaded that it does not have personal jurisdiction over Defendants. It also concludes, however, that the case should be transferred, rather than dismissed, in the interest of justice.
A federal court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant only when service of process is authorized by statute and only when consistent with due process of law. International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 90 L. Ed. 95, 66 S. Ct. 154 (1945). In a diversity action brought in this jurisdiction, the Court may look to the District of Columbia long-arm statute to determine whether it has personal jurisdiction, Crane v. Carr, 259 U.S. App. D.C. 229, 814 F.2d 758, 762 (D.C. Cir. 1987), and it is established that the long-arm statute permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. First Chicago Int'l v. United Exchange Co. Ltd., 267 U.S. App. D.C. 27, 836 F.2d 1375, 1377 (D.C. Cir. 1988); Environmental Research Int'l, Inc. v. Lockwood Greene Eng'rs, Inc., 355 A.2d 808, 810-811 (D.C. App. 1976) (en banc).
Under the District of Columbia long-arm statute, a plaintiff has the burden of establishing that personal jurisdiction exists by demonstrating a factual basis for the exercise of such jurisdiction over the defendant. First Chicago Int'l v. United Exchange Co., 836 F.2d at 1378; Crane v. New York Zoological Soc., 282 U.S. App. D.C. 295, 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1990); Dooley v. United Technologies Corp., 786 F. Supp. 65, 70 (D.D.C. 1992); Mitchell Energy Corp. v. Mary Helen Coal Co. Inc., 524 F. Supp. 558, 561 (D.D.C. 1981). In attempting to satisfy this burden, a plaintiff may not rest on bare allegations or conclusory statements alone and must make at least a prima facie showing if it is to avoid dismissal for want of jurisdiction. First Chicago Int'l v. United Exchange Co., 836 F.2d at 1378; Sunlite, Inc. v. BFG Bank AG, 849 F. Supp. 74, 75 (D.D.C. 1994); Dooley v. United Technologies Corp., 786 F. Supp. at 70. While the long-arm statute is interpreted broadly, Plaintiff must allege some specific facts evidencing purposeful activity by Defendants in the District of Columbia by which they invoked the benefits and protections of its laws. First Chicago Int'l v. United Exchange Co. Ltd., 836 F.2d at 1378-79; Meyers v. Smith, 460 F. Supp. 621, 622 (D.D.C. 1978); Mitchell Energy Corp. v. Mary Helen Coal Co. Inc., 524 F. Supp. at 563.
In this case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants "acted in such manner as provided in Section 13-423" by (1) entering into an agreement in the District [of Columbia] whereby services were supplied in the District, (2) engaging in discussions, conferences and meetings in the District, (3) availing themselves of the benefit of services available in the District, and (4) otherwise transacting business in the District. Amended Complaint P 3. Defendants state unequivocally that "they have not nor do they conduct business in the District of Columbia. Neither Prince nor Princess traveled to Washington, D.C., nor had any other contact with the District of Columbia." Def. Mem. at 1.
Plaintiff also alleges in her Amended Complaint:
During the month of March, 1991, Plaintiff and Defendants entered into an oral contract, the terms of which provided that Plaintiff would provide visa processing services and assistance with certain U.S. embassies, including but not limited to Singapore and Jakarta, for the retention of domestic servants for Defendants. In exchange, Defendants agreed to compensate Plaintiff at her reasonable hourly rate, and to reimburse Plaintiff for all out of pocket expenses incurred in performing said services, or otherwise advanced on behalf of Defendants.