United States District Court, District of Columbia
KAMAL K. PATEL, Plaintiff,
VIJAYKANT PATEL et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER.
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER United States District Judge.
resident Kamal Patel brought this action for fraud, breach of
contract, and theft against his relatives Vijaykant and
Bhartiben Vijaykant Patel, who live in England, alleging that
they participated in a scheme to steal Kamal's money from
a U.K. bank account. Defendants filed a response that they
styled as an answer but that the Court has construed, in
part, as a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction and for improper venue. See Minute
Order of August 4, 2017; see also Answer 2. That
motion is now ripe for adjudication.
plaintiff “bear[s] the burden of establishing personal
jurisdiction over the defendants.” Clay v. Blue
Hackle N. Am., LLC, 907 F.Supp.2d 85, 87 (D.D.C. 2012).
To establish personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff
“‘must allege specific acts connecting [the]
defendant with the forum and cannot rely on conclusory
allegations.” Id. (internal quotation
omitted). Any “factual discrepancies appearing in the
record must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff.”
Crane v. N.Y. Zoological Soc'y, 894 F.2d 454,
456 (D.C. Cir. 1990).
admits that Defendants “are foreign citizens and
residing and domiciled outside the United
States”-namely, in the United Kingdom. Compl.
¶¶ 2, 4-5. The Court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over Defendants only if Plaintiff can show that,
despite their foreign residence and domicile, they have
sufficient contacts with the District of Columbia so as to
satisfy due process and D.C. law. See Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 753 (2014); Fed.R.Civ.P.
4(k)(1)(A). The plaintiff could show this connection under
two theories: general or specific jurisdiction.
may exercise general personal jurisdiction over non-resident
defendants who “maintain sufficiently systematic and
continuous contacts with the forum . . ., regardless of
whether those contacts gave rise to the claim in the
particular suit.” App Dynamic ehf v.
Vignisson, 87 F.Supp.3d 322, 326 (D.D.C. 2015); see
also FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Mkts., Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087,
1091-92 & n.5 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (explaining that D.C. Code
§ 13-334(a) authorizes general jurisdiction over foreign
defendants to the extent that due process allows). Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants “ha[ve] significant ties to the
United States including family, numerous travels for business
and pleasure, operating a mail drop business for U.S.
citizens, as well as engaging in the present scheme and other
similar schemes as alleged in this lawsuit.” Compl.
¶¶ 4-5. Yet, these allegations make no reference to
D.C., as opposed to the United States generally. Even if they
did, a defendant's involvement in a discrete scheme, his
occasional travel to the forum, and his relationship with
forum residents are each paradigmatically
unsystematic. See Helicopteros Nacionales de
Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 416-18 (1984) (no
general jurisdiction in Texas where foreign company sent CEO
to Texas for contract negotiations; accepted checks drawn on
Texas bank; purchased equipment from Texas company; and sent
employees to Texas for training); see also Walden v.
Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1122 (2014) (confining analysis
“to the defendant's contacts with the forum State
itself, not the defendant's contacts with persons who
allegation related to Defendants' “mail drop
business” does not approach the sort of
“continuous and systematic general business
contacts” that could support general jurisdiction over
foreign Defendants. Helicopteros, 466 U.S. at 416.
Where a defendant's business ties are the asserted basis
for jurisdiction, those ties must be so pervasive “as
to render them essentially at home in the
forum.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (emphasis added).
Without more, the allegation that Defendants served some U.S.
clients living in England, see Compl. ¶¶
12-13, cannot satisfy that stringent standard, see,
e.g., id. at 927 (rejecting argument that the
introduction of products into stream of commerce with
expectation that they will be sold in a certain forum confers
general jurisdiction in that forum, even if the products are
ultimately sold there).
Court also lacks specific personal jurisdiction over
Defendants. As relevant here, D.C. law allows for specific
jurisdiction over non-resident defendants “as to a
claim for relief arising from the person's . . .
transacting any business in the District of Columbia, ”
D.C. Code § 13-423, and this standard is
“coextensive with the Constitution's due process
limit, ” First Chi. Int'l v. United Exch.
Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1377 (D.C. Cir. 1988). Thus, the
Court may exercise specific jurisdiction if there is a
sufficient relationship between the gravamen of the
complaint- the alleged theft of funds from Plaintiff's
U.K. bank account-and the District of Columbia, “such
that the maintenance of the suit does not offend
‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting
Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). In
other words, it must be true that Defendants have contacts
with the forum and that Plaintiff's suit “arise[s]
out of or [is] connected with” those particular
contacts. Id. at 319.
Complaint contains no factual allegations suggesting that
Plaintiff s claim has any meaningful relationship with D.C.
The sole allegation tying the case to the United States, let
alone to the forum itself, is that Defendants “have
used the U.S. banks and other international banks to launder
the proceeds of these crimes.” Compl. ¶ 28.
Plaintiff admits, however, that Defendants do not have any
U.S. bank accounts. Pl.'s Mem. in Support of Response 3.
Rather, his accusation is that Defendants pick up cash in the
United States and then move it “to the U.K. to avoid
U.S. scrutiny and reporting requirements.” Id.
But Plaintiffs action is not for money laundering or tax
evasion-the alleged theft and fraud, if perpetrated, were
completed when Plaintiffs funds were taken (1) from a U.K.
bank account (2) by U.K. residents (3) while abroad. Thus,
there is no sign that any “relevant conduct”
occurred in this forum. Walden, 134 S.Ct. at 1126.
Court therefore cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over
Defendants Vijaykant and Bhartiben Vijaykant Patel. Because
the other defendants have been dismissed, the Court will
dismiss the case in its entirety. The Court need not address
Defendants' alternative argument that venue in the
District of Columbia is improper.
that  Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED. It is further
ORDERED that this case be
ORDERED. This is a ...