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Shaheen v. Smith

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 13, 2013

DAVID T. SHAHEEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLES J. SMITH, et al., Defendants

Page 78

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 79

Re Document Nos.: 9, 12.

For DAVID T. SHAHEEN, Plaintiff: Stevan H. Lieberman, GREENBERG & LIEBERMAN, Washington, DC.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.

Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction; Denying Plaintiff's Request for Jurisdictional Discovery, and Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Transfer of Venue

I. INTRODUCTION

This action arises out of the plaintiff's allegations against the defendants for copyright infringement. The plaintiff, Mr. David T. Shaheen, owns a copyright for a written article titled Going Public by Direct Filing vs. Reverse Merger . The plaintiff alleges that the defendants, Charles J. Smith and his company, " How2GoPublic.com," altered the article and posted it online without the plaintiff's permission. The plaintiff moved for Default Judgment and this Court entered an Order, instructing the plaintiff to Show Cause why the Court should not dismiss this case for lack of personal jurisdiction.

After examining the plaintiff's allegations regarding the defendants' contacts in the District of Columbia, the Court finds that it does not have personal jurisdiction over the defendants. The Court also finds that jurisdictional discovery is not warranted. However, in the interests of justice, the Court will transfer the case to the District Court for the District of Nevada.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On July 17, 2012, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendants alleging copyright infringement. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1. On September 5, 2012, the defendants were served in Nevada. See Aff. of

Page 81

Mailing, ECF No. 4. The defendants never filed an answer or other responsive pleading, and on February 4, 2013, upon request of the plaintiff, the clerk entered an order of default. See Aff. for Default, ECF No. 7; Clerk's Entry of Default, ECF No. 8. On March 15, 2013, the plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 55, alleging that the defendants had not pled or moved to defend the matter. See Mot. Default J. 2, ECF No. 9. On April 10, 2013, this Court ordered the plaintiff to Show Cause why this case should not be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. See Show Cause Order, ECF No. 10. On May 8, 2013, the plaintiff responded to the Show Cause Order arguing that the defendants, who reside in and whose principal place of business is Nevada, had sufficient and substantial contacts within the District of Columbia to confer personal jurisdiction over them in this matter. See Resp. Show Cause Order 6-9, ECF No. 11 (" Resp." ). In the alternative, the plaintiff requested that if this Court did not find personal jurisdiction, that it grant the plaintiff jurisdictional discovery, or transfer the case to the Ninth Circuit. See Resp. at 8-9.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that this Court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants. See FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Mkts., Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1091, 381 U.S.App. D.C. 383 (D.C. Cir. 2008). Although factual discrepancies in the record must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff, a court need not accept the plaintiff's " conclusory statements" or " bare allegations" regarding the defendant's actions in a selected forum. See GTE New Media Servs. Inc. v. BellSouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343, 1349, 339 U.S.App. D.C. 332 (D.C. Cir. 2000).

" To establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident, a court must engage in a two-part inquiry: A court must first examine whether jurisdiction is applicable under the state's long-arm statute and then determine whether a finding of jurisdiction satisfies the constitutional requirements of due process." GTE New Media Servs. Inc., 199 F.3d at 1347. The District of Columbia long-arm statute provides that a District of Columbia court has personal jurisdiction over any person as to a claim for relief arising from the person's

(1) transacting any business in the District of Columbia; (2) contracting to supply services in the District of Columbia; (3) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission in the District of Columbia; (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 . . . .

D.C. Code § 13-423(a) (2001). Subsection (b) qualifies the reach of the statute by noting that " [w]hen 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." Id. § 13-423(b).

Next, Due Process requires a plaintiff to demonstrate " 'minimum contacts' between the defendant and the forum state such that 'the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" GTE New Media Servs. Inc., 199 F.3d at 1347 (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945)). These minimum ...


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