United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TFMOTHY J. KELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
IMAPizza, LLC ("IMAPizza") operates a chain of
pizza restaurants under the name "&pizza."
Defendants-a company called At Pizza Limited ("At
Pizza") and its alleged owners, Bhasker Dhir and Rupert
Lyle-plan to operate a similar pizza restaurant called
"@pizza." IMAPizza is understandably upset, and
thinks that Defendants have improperly coopted the name and
design of its restaurants.
there's a catch: all of IMAPizza's restaurants are
located in the Eastern United States, while Defendants'
restaurant is located in Scotland. Defendants have filed a
motion to dismiss (ECF No. 18) on a variety of grounds, most
of which reflect the same general argument: IMAPizza has
improperly brought this lawsuit in an American court and
(mostly) under American law, while it should have been
brought in the United Kingdom under that country's laws.
explained below, the Court largely agrees with Defendants. To
the extent that IMAPizza brings claims under federal law, it
improperly seeks to apply our laws to conduct that occurred
overseas. The one claim it brings under District of Columbia
law (alleging that Defendants trespassed by entering
&pizza restaurants) is meritless. Those claims will be
dismissed. The Court will also order the parties to brief
whether the remaining claim (under United Kingdom law) should
be dismissed under the doctrine of forum non
IMAPizza will also be required to submit an affidavit with
sufficient facts to establish its citizenship for diversity
Factual and Procedural Background
from its headquarters in the District of Columbia (the
"District"), operates a restaurant chain called
&pizza in the District and other locations in the Eastern
United States. Compl. ¶¶6, 11. "&pizza
is an anti-establishment establishment" that prides
itself on its "creative pies and craft beverages,
localized shop design, and the strength, unity and vibe of
its living-wage-paid, ampersand-tattooed" employees.
Compl. ¶ 12.
claims that its "trademarked name" is just one
aspect of its "unique commercial impression."
Id. ¶ 13. &pizza has other distinctive
features as well, such as "an elongated oval skinny
pizza design," "elongated rectangular skinny
boxes," "slogans that include
'LOVE&pizza' and 'YOU&pizza, '"
a set of "four core values," and employees that are
referred to as its "Fribe." Id.
¶¶ 15-16. IMAPizza has also submitted copyright
applications for the "architectural and interior design
plans" of its restaurants, "including the layout,
and look and feel of its locations." Id. ¶
and Dhir reside in, and are citizens of, the United Kingdom.
Id. ¶¶ 8-9. According to IMAPizza, they
are "controlling owner[s] and director[s]" of At
Pizza, the corporate entity (organized under the laws of the
United Kingdom) through which they operate the @pizza
business. 7#. ¶¶7-10.
"tour[ing] a number of &pizza locations in
Washington, D.C.," Lyle allegedly "[r]ealiz[ed] the
uniqueness of &pizza's restaurant chain" and
decided to copy it. Id. ¶ 17. In October 2015,
Lyle incorporated a private limited company called
"& Pizza Limited" under the laws of the United
Kingdom. Wagner Decl. Ex. 1, at 3-9. In June 2016, he renamed
the business At Pizza. Id. at 10-12. IMAPizza
alleges that Dhir, at Lyle's direction, also "took
numerous trips to visit the Washington, D.C. locations of
&pizza" to study the restaurants. Compl. ¶ 17.
During their visits, Lyle and Dhir allegedly "entered
into &pizza's Washington, D.C. locations masquerading
as customers, took extensive pictures (not identifying
themselves as the competition), accessed all parts of the
restaurant that they could to observe its design, and
returned to Scotland, U.K. with this copyrighted
information." Id. ¶ 25. They also
downloaded photographs of &pizza restaurants from
websites operating on servers located in the United States,
including "yelp.com" (a restaurant review
website) and "flydulles.com" (the website
for the Dulles International Airport). Id. ¶
39. IMAPizza claims that these downloads included "at
least three pictures for which [IMAPizza] owns the copyrights
in the pictures themselves (in addition to the architectural
and interior designs they depict)." Id. ¶
their part, Lyle and Dhir describe their travel to the United
States somewhat differently in declarations they have
submitted. Lyle admits that he was inspired by American
restaurants like &pizza to start his own pizza business,
but claims that he came across the restaurant by happenstance
during a family vacation in July 2015-which was the only time
he visited an &pizza restaurant. See Lyle Decl.
¶ 5. He denies having instructed Dhir to visit the
United States. Id. ¶ 12. For his part, Dhir
admits to having visited the United States once, in August
2017, as part of his research for the opening of @pizza. Dhir
Decl. ¶¶ 8, 10. He claims, however, that he visited
many different restaurants in two different cities during the
trip, and was not fixated on &pizza. Id.
¶¶ 8-9. He also claims that he took pictures only
for "purely personal" reasons, to "look for
new ideas" for home-cooked meals with his family.
Id. ¶ 9.
claims that Lyle and Dhir used the information they gathered
to create "copycat" restaurants "possessing
the same look and feel" as &pizza. Compl. ¶ 25.
In designing @pizza, they "copied &pizza's
architectural and interior designs." Id. ¶
38. They also copied other distinctive features of
&pizza, such as the oval shape of the pizza,
&pizza's slogans, and "the promotion of its
staff as 'the Squad' or 'the Pack'"
(similar to &pizza's "Tribe"). Id.
¶ 53. And they chose a trademark, @pizza, that was
extremely similar to &pizza. Id. Dhir and Lyle
also allegedly used photographs of &pizza (including the
three photographs for which IMAPizza owns the copyrights) in
a "marketing deck circulated by @pizza to its business
partners," effectively passing off &pizza's
unique designs as their own. Id. ¶¶ 26-29.
(Dhir and Lyle claim that they used this document, which they
describe as a "mood board," only "during the
recruitment of a General Manager" and never for
marketing purposes. Lyle Deck ¶ 11; Dhir Deck
¶¶ 5-7.) When IMAPizza demanded that Defendants
cease and desist from this conduct, they refused. Compl.
¶¶ 30-31. In fact, they responded that Lyle or Dhir
"would be personally escorting their general manager to
Washington, D.C. so he or she could also carefully observe
&pizza's design, operation and marketing."
Id. ¶ 32. As of the filing of the complaint,
Defendants planned to launch the first @pizza location in
November 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Id. ¶33.
alleges that these acts have caused an effect on U.S.
commerce. It claims that a large number of U.S. tourists
visit Edinburgh, Scotland, every year, and that they
"are likely to be confused as to an association or
sponsorship between &pizza and @pizza." Id.
¶ 65(a). In addition, "a substantial number of
university students in Edinburgh come from U.S. states in
which &pizza is located" and will experience similar
confusion. Id. ¶ 65(b). IMAPizza also alleges
that a "potential business partner of @pizza has
contacted &pizza to report the infringing use" of
&pizza's trademark and "frustration experienced
as a result of the potential partner actually being confused
into believing that @pizza was affiliated with the
well-established &pizza." Id. ¶ 22.
filed this case in November 2017. It brings five causes of
action. The first, under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §
101 et seq., alleges that Defendants have infringed
IMAPizza's copyrights in the architectural works and
three photographs mentioned above. Compl. ¶¶ 34-47.
The second cause of action, for "passing off' under
the common law of the United Kingdom, alleges that Defendants
have improperly traded on the goodwill associated with
IMAPizza's distinctive trademark and other features,
thereby harming IMAPizza. Id. ¶¶ 48-61.
The third and fourth causes of action, for "trademark
infringement" and "unfair competition,"
respectively, bring similar claims under the Lanham Act, 15
U.S.C. § 1051 et seq. Compl. ¶¶
62-78. The fifth and final cause of action alleges that
Defendants committed trespass under District of Columbia law
when they entered &pizza restaurants without permission
for the purpose of stealing IMAPizza's intellectual
property. Id. ¶¶ 79-87.
have moved to dismiss on several grounds. Among other things,
they have moved to dismiss all claims except the trespass
claim for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). Defs.' Br. at 10-13. They have
also moved to dismiss all claims except the "passing
off' claim for failure to state a claim under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defs.' Br. at 13-21. In
addition, Defendants' reply raised, for the first time,
the issue of dismissal under the doctrine offorum non
conveniens. Defs.' Reply at 25. The Court granted
IMAPizza leave to file a surreply to address this new ground
for dismissal, along with two other issues that Defendants
raised for the first time in their reply. See ECF
No. 36 (order); Pl.'s Surreply. Both parties have
requested oral argument on the motion. Defs.' Br. at 22;
Pl.'s Opp'n at 36. The Court finds, in its
discretion, that oral argument would not be helpful to
resolution of the motion, and therefore denies their request.
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Rule
plaintiff bears the burden "to 'make a prima
facie showing of the pertinent jurisdictional facts'
to survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction." Livnat v. Palestinian Auth., 851
F.3d 45, 56-57 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (quoting First Chi.
Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378 (D.C.
Cir. 1988)). '"Conclusory statements' or a
'bare allegation of conspiracy or agency' do not
satisfy this burden." Id. at 57 (quoting
First Chi. Int'l, 836 F.3d at 1378-79). Rather,
the plaintiff "must allege specific acts connecting
[each] defendant with the forum." Second Amendment
Found, v. U.S. Conf. of Mayors, 274 F.3d 521, 524 (D.C.
Cir. 2001) (quoting First Chi. Int'l, 836 F.3d
at 1378). "[T]o establish a prima facie case, plaintiffs
are not limited to evidence that meets the standards of
admissibility .... Rather, they may rest their argument on
their pleadings, bolstered by such affidavits and other
written materials as they can otherwise obtain."
Mwani v. bin Laden, 417 F.3d 1, 7 (D.C. Cir. 2005).
"When deciding personal jurisdiction without an
evidentiary hearing ..., the 'court must resolve factual
disputes in favor of the plaintiff . . . ."
Livnat, 851 F.3d at 57 (quoting Helmer v.
Doletskaya, 393 F.3d 201, 209 (D.C. Cir. 2004)). But the
Court need not accept inferences unsupported by the facts.
facts material to the Court's exercise of personal
jurisdiction over the defendant remain in dispute, the Court
must adopt appropriate procedures to resolve them. Cf.
Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d
192, 197-98 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (subject matter jurisdiction).
Typically this must occur before turning to the merits,
see Kaplan v. Cent. Bank of the Islamic Republic of
Iran, 896 F.3d 501, 510-11 (D.C. Cir. 2018), unless the
merits and jurisdiction are intertwined, cf.
Herbert, 974 F.2d at 198 (subject matter jurisdiction).
One available procedure is jurisdictional discovery, which
the Court has discretion to order when presented with
'"a good faith belief that such discovery will
enable [the plaintiff] to show that the court has personal
jurisdiction over the defendant, '" as opposed to
"mere conjecture or speculation." FC Inv. Grp.
v. IFXMarkets, Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1093-94 (D.C. Cir.
2008) (quoting Caribbean Broad. Sys., Ltd. v. Cable &
Wireless PLC, 148 F.3d 1080, 1090 (D.C. Cir. 1998)). The
Court may also hold an evidentiary hearing to determine, by a
preponderance of the evidence, whether personal jurisdiction
exists. See Mwani, 417 F.3d at 7.
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Rule
Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency
of a plaintiff s complaint; it does not require a court to
'assess the truth of what is asserted or determine
whether a plaintiff has any evidence to back up what is in
the complaint.'" Herron v. Fannie Mae, 861
F.3d 160, 173 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (quoting Browning v.
Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002)). "In
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must construe
the complaint 'in favor of the plaintiff, who must be
granted the benefit of all inferences that can be derived
from the facts alleged.'" Hettinga v. United
States, 677 F.3d 471, 476 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (quoting
Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C.
Cir. 1979)). "But the Court need not accept inferences
drawn by plaintiff if those inferences are not supported by
the facts set out in the complaint, nor must the court accept
legal conclusions cast as factual allegations."
Id. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must have 'facial plausibility,' meaning it
must 'plead factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'" Id.
(alteration in original) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). In deciding a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court "may consider only the
facts alleged in the complaint, any documents either attached
to or incorporated in the complaint and matters of which [the
court] may take judicial notice." Hurd v. District
of Columbia, 864 F.3d 671, 678 (D.C. Cir. 2017)
(alteration in original) (quoting EEOC v. St. Francis
Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C. Cir.
Court will begin-as it must-by examining Defendants'
argument that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over
them. While this is a close question, the Court concludes
that IMAPizza has made a prima facie showing of
jurisdiction as is required to avoid dismissal at this stage.
The Court will then turn to Defendants' argument that
IMAPizza has failed to state a claim under the Copyright Act,
the Lanham Act, and the common law of trespass, concluding
that Defendants are correct and those claims must be
dismissed. The Court further concludes that it lacks an
adequate record to dismiss IMAPizza's remaining claim
(for "passing off under the law of the United Kingdom)
under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The
Court will order the parties to propose a schedule for
briefing a renewed motion to dismiss on that ground. Finally,
in order to ensure that it has diversity jurisdiction over
the "passing off' claim, the Court will require
IMAPizza to submit an affidavit establishing its citizenship.
argue that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction to hear
IMAPizza's intellectual-property claims (that is,
everything except the trespass claim, which they concede the
Court has jurisdiction to hear). See Defs.' Br.
at 10-13; Defs.' Reply at 20-25. Personal jurisdiction is
not a mere technicality, but '"an essential element
of the jurisdiction of a district . . . court,' without
which the court is 'powerless to proceed to an
adjudication.'" Ruhr gas AG v. Marathon Oil
Co., 526 U.S. 574, 584 (1999) (quoting Emp'rs
Reins. Corp. v. Bryant, 299 U.S. 374, 382 (1937)). The
Court must address this issue before turning to the merits of
IMAPizza's claims. See Kaplan v. Cent. Bank of the
Islamic Republic of Iran, 896 F.3d 501, 510-11 (D.C.
are two types of personal jurisdiction. Under the first type,
known as general or "all-purpose" jurisdiction,
courts located where defendants are at "at home"
may exercise jurisdiction over any claim against
them. Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 751
(2014). IMAPizza has wisely elected not to rely on general
jurisdiction in this case, because Defendants-all of whom
reside in the United Kingdom-cannot be considered "at
home" anywhere in the United States. The second type,
known as specific or "case-linked" jurisdiction,
exists when there is a connection between the forum and the
facts of the case. Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115,
1121 n.6 (2014). This case concerns the second type.
establish specific personal jurisdiction, IMAPizza must show
that jurisdiction is proper under both (1) the District of
Columbia's long-arm statute and (2) the U.S.
Constitution's Due Process Clause. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A); Walden, 134 S.Ct. at 1121;
Forms v. Rauf, 812 F.3d 1102, 1105-06 (D.C. Cir.),
cert, denied, 137 S.Ct. 375 (2016). As explained
below, the Court concludes, drawing all inferences in
IMAPizza's favor from the instant record, that it has met
its burden of establishing a prima facie showing of
personal jurisdiction over Defendants.
District of Columbia Long-Arm Statute
District of Columbia long-arm statute provides, among other
things, for "personal jurisdiction over a person, who
acts directly or by an agent, 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
(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 ....
D.C. Code § 13-423(a)(1)-(4). The plaintiff must
identify which prong of the long-arm statute she is relying
on as the basis for jurisdiction. See FC Inv. Grp. LC v.
IFX Markets, Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1095-96 (D.C. Cir.
2008). Here, IMAPizza has relied solely on §
13-423(a)(1). See Pl.'s Opp'n at 28-33.
Therefore, the Court will not consider the other subsections
of the statute for purposes of this motion.
invoke § 13-423 (a)(1), the plaintiff must first make a
threshold showing "that the defendant has purposefully
engaged in some type of commercial or business-related
activity directed at District residents."
Holder v. Haarmann & Reimer Corp., 779 A.2d 264,
270-71 (D.C. 2001) (emphasis added). Instead, IMAPizza skips
ahead to the due process analysis, relying on cases stating
that, under this subsection, "the statutory and
constitutional jurisdictional questions, which are usually
distinct, merge into a single inquiry." Pl.'s
Opp'n at 28 (quoting United States v. Ferrara,
54 F.3d 825, 828 (D.C. Cir. 1995)). But IMAPizza overlooks
the word "usually." As the D.C. Circuit has
explained, § 13-423(a)(1) extends to the limits of due
process only "for cases that fit within [the
provision's] description." Forms, 812 F.3d
at 1106 (quoting Crane v. Carr, 814 F.2d 758, 762
(D.C. Cir. 1987) (R.B. Ginsburg, J.)); see also
Mouzavires v. Baxter, 434 A.2d 988, 993 (D.C. 1981)
(explaining that § 13-423(a)(1) "covers any
transaction of business in the District of Columbia that
can be reached jurisdictionally without offending the due
process clause" (emphasis added)).
case law does not precisely delineate the boundaries of
"commercial or business-related activity" falling
within the statute. Certainly, it covers "business
transactions" in the everyday sense of commercial
deal-making activities like negotiating or performing
contracts. See, e.g., Helmer v. Doletskaya, 393 F.3d
201, 206-07 (D.C. Cir. 2004); Xie v. Sklover &
Co., 260 F.Supp.3d 30, 41 (D.D.C. 2017). In fact,
"contractual activities" are so central to §
13- 423(a)(1) that, even when they occur outside the District
of Columbia, they may be deemed to occur "in the
District" if they "cause a consequence here."
Mouzavires, 434 A.2d at 992. The statute has also
been extended to advertising in the District, see
Shoppers Food Warehouse v. Moreno, 746 A.2d 320, 330-32
(D.C. 2000) (en banc), operating an office in the District,
see Wilson v. Wilson, 785 A.2d 647, 650 (D.C. 2001),
and holding a board meeting in the District, see Daley v.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., 26 A.3d 723, 727-28
(D.C. 2011). The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has
held that a Pennsylvania attorney "transacted]
business" in the District by representing a Florida
corporation before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
See Lex Tex Ltd., Inc. v. Skillman, 579 A.2d 244,
249 (D.C. 1990). Courts have also held that employment
decisions made in the District (such as a decision to fire an
employee) constitute business transactions. See, e.g.,
Navab-Safavi v. Broad. Bd. of Governors, 650 F.Supp.2d
40, 52 (D.D.C. 2009), aff'd sub nom. Navab-Safavi v.
Glassman, 637 F.3d 311 (D.C. Cir. 2011).
contrast, courts have declined to extend § 13-423(a)(1)
to conduct that is not meaningfully
"business-related." For example, participating
outside the District in a criminal conspiracy that affects
District residents does not necessarily constitute
"transacting business" in the District.
Holder, 779 A.2d at 274-75. Indeed, not even
"the in-state commission of a tort is defined
as 'doing business.'" Id. at 275 n.10
(emphasis added). Nor do professional activities that
physically take place in the District necessarily constitute
"business transactions" within the meaning of the
statute. For example, in Etchebarne-Bourdin v.
Radice, 982 A.2d 752 (D.C. 2009), the plaintiffs brought
malpractice claims against doctors who had treated them in
Virginia. Id. at 755-56. The plaintiffs claimed that
the doctors had "transacted] business" in the
District by attending continuing-medical-education courses
there. Id. at 759. The District of Columbia Court of
Appeals concluded that these professional activities did not
constitute "transacting business," and noted that
the doctors had not actively solicited patients in the
District. Id. at 759-60. Purely personal matters may
also not be sufficiently "business-related" to fall
within the statute; one court has held, for example, that a
separation agreement executed by a husband and wife in the
District did not qualify. See Capel v. Capel, 272
F.Supp.3d 33, 39 (D.D.C. 2017).
argue, with some force, that their contacts with the District
do not resemble traditional business transactions.
See Defs.' Reply at 21-22. IMAPizza seeks to
rely on its allegation that Defendants targeted their acts of
infringement, which occurred in the United Kingdom, at
IMAPizza in the District. Pl.'s Opp'n at 30-32. But
tortious conduct by a nonresident outside the District is not
"transacting any business in the District," even if
it affects a District resident. See Holder, 779 A.2d
at 274-75. And of course, At Pizza never conducted its
primary business (selling pizza) in the District. Nor is it
alleged to have advertised here.
the Court concludes that, when all factual disputes are
resolved and inferences are drawn in IMAPizza's favor,
some of Dhir's contacts with the District qualify as
business transactions under § 13-423(a)(1). Even in
Defendants' own account, Dhir traveled to the District
for a business purpose: to conduct research for At Pizza
about other pizza restaurants. See Dhir Decl.
¶¶ 8-9. For a start-up like At Pizza, such research
could be considered an important business activity. This
performance of business duties in the District appears to
constitute "transacting business" within the
meaning of the statute. Cf. Lex Tex, 579 A.2d at 249
(holding out-of-state lawyer was "transacting
business" by representing out-of-state client in
District). Moreover, there was at least some kind of
"transaction" in the traditional sense, as Dhir was
a customer of IMAPizza during his visit. See
Defs.' Reply at 21.
also argue that these contacts cannot be attributed to Lyle
and Dhir, because they acted solely in their capacities as
officers of At Pizza. See Id. at 24-25. It is true
that, under District of Columbia law, a plaintiff cannot
establish personal jurisdiction over a corporate officer
based solely on the corporation's conduct. See Flocco
v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 752 A.2d 147, 162
(D.C. 2000). But this "fiduciary shield" rule is
not absolute. Id. at 163 n.2O. It does not
necessarily protect corporate officers who have personally
benefited from their own misconduct. See Family Fed'n
for World Peace v. Hyun Jin Moon, 129 A.3d 234, 243-44
(D.C. 2015). Similarly, it does not protect corporate agents
who were not mere employees, but high-ranking officers
responsible for the corporate policies that gave rise to the
plaintiffs claims. See Nat'l Cmty. Reinv. Coal. v.
NovaStar Fin., Inc., 604 F.Supp.2d 26, 30-31 (D.D.C.
2009). Here, Dhir personally had contacts with the District.
See Dhir Decl. ¶ 8-9. And Dhir's contacts
can be attributed to Lyle because, under IMAPizza's
version of the facts, Dhir traveled to the District at
Lyle's direction, see Compl. ¶ 17, from
which one could infer he was Lyle's "agent"
under the long-arm statute. See D.C. Code §
13-423(a); Smith v. Jenkins, 452 A.2d 333, 335-36
(D.C. 1982) (explaining that generally "an agency
relationship results when one person authorizes another to
act on his behalf subject to his control, and the other
consents to do so"). But see Lyle Decl. ¶
12. Moreover, Lyle and Dhir allegedly exercise control over
At Pizza and caused it to engage in the conduct at issue,
making them more than mere employees. See Compl.
course, it is not enough for IMAPizza to show that Defendants
engaged in business transactions in the District. It must
also show that its claims "aris[e] from" these
business transactions. D.C. Code § 13-423(b). This
requirement reflects the fact that § 13-423 provides for
only specific personal jurisdiction, which requires
the defendant's contacts with the forum to be related to
the plaintiffs lawsuit. District of Columbia law sets a
relatively low bar for suit- relatedness, requiring only a
"discernible relationship" between the
defendant's contacts and the plaintiffs claims.
Jackson v. George, 146 A.3d 405, 412 (D.C. 2016)
(quoting Shoppers, 746 A.2d at 329). "[T]he
claim ha[s] to be related to or substantially connected
with" the business transactions in question, such that
"it is reasonably foreseeable that, as a result of the
transactions, the defendant "could be sued in the
District on a claim similar to that filed by" the
plaintiff. Shoppers, 746 A.2d at 335-36. It is not
necessary, where jurisdiction is based on §
13-423(a)(1), that the claim be contractual in nature. For
example, in Shoppers, a slip-and-fall in a Maryland
grocery store was held to "arise from" advertising
in the District. 746 A.2d at 336.
is no need to belabor the question of suit-relatedness under
District of Columbia law. The "arising from"
requirement "operates as a due process check on the
reach or scope of the 'transacting business'
provision of the long-arm statute." Id. at 333.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has concluded that
the "discernible relationship" test is sufficient
to satisfy the U.S. Constitution's Due Process Clause. As
will be discussed below, other courts have applied different
tests, and the "discernible relationship" test is
the least demanding-that is, it requires the loosest fit
between a defendant's forum contacts and a plaintiffs
claim. Therefore, if Defendants' alleged business
transactions can support personal jurisdiction under the ...