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J.I. Kislak Inc. v. Trumbull Shopping Park Inc.

Decided: May 18, 1977.

J.I. KISLAK, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TRUMBULL SHOPPING PARK, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, AND THE FROUGE CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Carton, Kole and Larner. The opinion of the court was delivered by Larner, J.A.D.

Larner

[150 NJSuper Page 97] The issue on this appeal is whether the courts of New Jersey may constitutionally acquire in personam jurisdiction over defendant, a nonresident corporation. The trial court dismissed the complaint for lack

of jurisdiction and plaintiff appeals. The legal principles dealing with exercise of long-arm jurisdiction have been articulated in the landmark opinions in International Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945); McGee v. International Life Ins. Co. , 355 U.S. 220, 78 S. Ct. 199, 2 L. Ed. 2d 223 (1957), and Hanson v. Denckla , 357 U.S. 235, 78 S. Ct. 1228, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1283 (1958), which have subsequently been expanded and applied in a multitude of cases in this State and other jurisdictions. See, e.g., Avdel Corp. v. Mecure , 58 N.J. 264 (1971); J.W. Sparks & Co. v. Gallos , 47 N.J. 295 (1966); Roland v. Modell's Shoppers World of Bergen Cty. , 92 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 1966).

New Jersey has through its long-arm rule adopted a judicial policy which permits service on nonresident defendants to the outer limits of the due process requirements of the United States Constitution. See R. 4:4-4(c)(1); Avdel Corp. v. Mecure and Roland v. Modell's Shoppers World of Bergen Cty., supra. Although this concept has resulted in a flexible and indulgent view leading to exercise of jurisdiction against nonresidents in many cases, nevertheless we are constrained by the caveat in Hanson v. Denckla, supra , which emphasizes:

But it is a mistake to assume that this trend heralds the eventual demise of all restrictions on the personal jurisdiction of state courts. See Vanderbilt v. Vanderbilt, 354 U.S. 416, 418, 77 S. Ct. 1360, 1362, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1456, 1459. Those restrictions are more than a guarantee of immunity from inconvenient or distant litigation. They are a consequence of territorial limitations on the power of the respective States. However minimal the burden of defending in a foreign tribunal, a defendant may not be called upon to do so unless he has had the "minimal contacts" with that State that are a prerequisite to its exercise of power over him. [357 U.S. at 251, 78 S. Ct. at 1238, 2 L. Ed. 2d at 1296]

A further exploration of the development of the law on this subject would be of no value, for the unresolved question in each case is not the statement of the principles of

law involved but rather the application of those principles to a particular fact complex.

Plaintiff J.I. Kislak, Inc. (Kislak) claims commissions due under an agreement executed in 1962 between it and Trumbull Shopping Park, Inc. (Trumbull) whereby Kislak was retained as an exclusive renting agent for stores in a shopping center developed by Trumbull. This agreement was a sequel to a similar 1960 agreement which resulted in Kislak obtaining Korvettes as the major tenant in the complex. Commissions were payable over a number of years during the terms of the respective leases. Defendant Trumbull paid commissions until 1970, at which time it discontinued any further payments under the agreement and thereby inspired Kislak to institute this lawsuit.

The written agreement, a culmination of defendant's solicitation of plaintiff in Connecticut, was executed by both parties in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and involved defendant's real estate development located in Connecticut. Defendant Trumbull is a Delaware corporation having its principal office in Bridgeport, Connecticut, while Kislak is a New Jersey corporation with its principal office in Newark. The agreement specifically provides that it is to be controlled by the laws of the State of Connecticut.

Affidavits filed with the trial court establish without contradiction that Trumbull has never entered the State of New Jersey in connection with the execution or performance of the agreement through any of its officers or employees. Similarly, defendant has had no contact with this State through the conduct of any type of business herein or through the possession or ownership of any real estate, offices, places of business or the presence of personnel or representatives. In essence, defendant has had no direct contact whatever with the State of New Jersey in connection with the agreement or with any of its other pursuits.

Plaintiff urges that the "minimum contacts" criterion of International Shoe, and Hanson v. Denckla, ...


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