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BURKE v. IKE QUARTEY

July 7, 1997

FREDERICK BURKE, Plaintiff,
v.
IKE QUARTEY, RINGCRAFT PROMOTIONS & MANAGEMENT SYNDICATE, and MICHEL ACARIES, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BROTMAN

 BROTMAN, District Judge:

 The court reviews herein "Round Two" of a dispute between an American boxing manager in one corner and a Ghanaian boxer, a French boxing manager, and a French boxing management and promotion company in the other. Presently before the court is Defendant Ike Quartey's motion to quash the service of process and to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(2). In the alternative, Quartey requests that the court dismiss the action pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. *fn1" For the reasons set forth below, the court denies both of these motions.

 I. BACKGROUND

 In 1989, defendant Ike Quartey--a Ghanaian boxer--entered into a management agreement with Ghanaian manager Emmanuel Seth Yoofi Bohan. Bohan, in turn, entered into a co-management agreement with plaintiff Frederick Burke, a boxing manager from Maryland. According to the terms of the co-management agreement, Burke was to receive a designated percentage of Quartey's total earnings. Quartey consented to this agreement.

 In 1991, Quartey fired Burke and hired a new manager. Since that time, the defendant has boxed in the United States on at least four occasions. (See Cert. of Frederick Burke P 8.) Both parties concede that the one of those fights was in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (See id P 11; see also Aff. of Angelika C. Moncada P 11.) In February 1996, Burke filed suit against Quartey, Michel Acaries, and Ringcraft Promotions & Management Syndicate, alleging that he is entitled to the percentage of Quartey's earnings due under the contract.

 In the present motion, Quartey asserts that the court cannot exercise jurisdiction over him because his contacts with New Jersey do not satisfy the "minimum contacts" test for personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. See International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 90 L. Ed. 95, 66 S. Ct. 154 (1945). The plaintiff now bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case of jurisdiction Bryan v. Associated Container Transp., 837 F. Supp. 633, 639-40 (D.N.J. 1993). To meet this burden, he may not rely on bare pleadings, but must produce competent evidence to establish "with reasonable particularity" the nature and extent of the defendant's contacts with the forum state. Patterson v. FBI, 893 F.2d 595, 603-04 (3d Cir. 1990). If plaintiff meets this burden, the motion to dismiss will be denied regardless of any controverting presentation by the defendant.

 II. DISCUSSION: PERSONAL JURISDICTION

 Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e), this court may exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant to the extent allowed by state law. New Jersey's long arm statute authorizes the exercise of jurisdiction over nonresidents as permissible by the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. Telesis Mergers & Acquisitions, Inc. v. Atlis Fed. Servs., Inc., 918 F. Supp. 823, 830 (D.N.J. 1996). Without evidence of personal service of process in New Jersey, the Due Process Clause prevents exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant unless sufficient minimum contacts exist between Defendant Quartey and this state such that exercising jurisdiction over him does not violate "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316. What constitutes minimum contacts varies with the "quality and nature of the defendant's activity." Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1283, 78 S. Ct. 1228 (1958). Plaintiff must demonstrate that Defendant Quartey's contacts with New Jersey were such that he should have reasonably anticipated the possibility of being haled into court in this state. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472-74, 85 L. Ed. 2d 528, 105 S. Ct. 2174 (1985).

 The Supreme Court has delineated two types of personal jurisdiction: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 80 L. Ed. 2d 404, 104 S. Ct. 1868 (1984). General jurisdiction finds minimum contacts from an ongoing series of contacts with the forum state, while specific jurisdiction does so on the basis of one substantial contact from which the cause of action arises. See id. Due process concerns are satisfied if the exercise of jurisdiction is objectively foreseeable to the foreign defendant. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 62 L. Ed. 2d 490, 100 S. Ct. 559 (1980). In the case of specific jurisdiction, the action is foreseeable if two conditions are met: (1) the litigation arises out of in-state activities, and (2) the defendant purposefully directed his activities at the forum state. See Burger King, 471 U.S. at 472 (citations omitted). Thus, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had at least one contact with New Jersey and that the cause of action arose out of that contact. In this case, the plaintiff contends that the court has specific jurisdiction over Quartey due to his participation in a title defense fight in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (See Pl.'s Br. at 4-9.) Plaintiff alleges further that the failure to pay him after the New Jersey boxing match constituted a breach of contract in New Jersey. This, plaintiff concludes, establishes the necessary minimum contacts for this court to exercise specific jurisdiction over the defendant.

 For the purposes of determining minimum contacts, the Supreme Court has specifically turned the focus away from theoretical analyses. See Burger King, 471 U.S. at 479 (citation omitted) (jurisdiction not measured according to "conceptualistic theories of the place of contracting or of performance"). That is, in performing a minimum contacts analysis, courts should not engage in doctrinal analyses to determine the place of performance or breach. Rather, they should consider the actual activities of the parties and to which fora those activities are connected. See Vetrotex Certainteed Corp. v. Consolidated Fiber Glass Products Co., 75 F.3d 147, 151 (3d Cir. 1996) (minimum contacts analysis in breach of contract action focuses on prior negotiations, future consequences, course of dealing).

 A. The action arose out of the defendant's contacts with New Jersey

 In this case, specific jurisdiction exists because "future consequences" of the contract took place in New Jersey. See id. The defendant inappropriately uses "conceptualistic" contract theory to argue that minimum contacts with New Jersey do not exist. That is, defendant contends that the doctrine of anticipatory repudiation places the breach at an earlier time and in another forum--Ghana. While the defendant may have indicated his intent to breach the contract in Ghana--and for purposes of an anticipatory repudiation analysis that fact would be significant--this is not significant for a minimum contacts analysis which focuses exclusively on factual occurrences, prior negotiations, and future consequences in particular. See id.

 Here, the occurrence of the fight and the prospect of payment are the essence of the contract's "future consequences." See Burger King, 471 U.S. at 479; Vetrotex, 75 F.3d at 151. According to the contract, Quartey would perform (i.e., pay Burke) upon the occurrence of a condition (i.e., boxing for money). (See Cert. of Frederick Burke, Ex. B.) Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the breach occurred when the Quartey failed to perform (pay Burke) on the occurrence of a condition (the fight). The condition--the fight--occurred in New Jersey, and failure to perform subsequently constitutes the breach. The breach, in turn, gives rise to this action; thus, this action arises out of a contact with New Jersey.

 The defendant argues in error that Ghana, not New Jersey, has personal jurisdiction over this action because the prior negotiations to the contract occurred in Ghana. (See Def.'s Reply at 6.) The "minimum contacts" standard, however, is not a "best contacts" standard. See World-Wide, 444 U.S. at 301 (Brennan, J., dissenting). A viable argument supporting jurisdiction in Ghana does not diminish jurisdiction in New Jersey. Under Burger King and subsequent cases, prior negotiations and future consequences are both compelling evidence of minimum contacts. See Burger King, 471 U.S. at 479; Vetrotex, 75 F.3d at 151; Telesis, 918 F. Supp. at 823. *fn2"

 The defendant also asserts that choice-of-law issues prevent this court from exercising jurisdiction, and that Ghanaian or French law may apply to this action. Choice-of-law issues, however, should not be factored into a jurisdictional analysis. See Burger King, 471 U.S. at 481-82; see also Hanson, 357 U.S. at 253-54. Burger King instructs the court to consider the weight of factual material regardless of conceptual analyses. See Burger King, 471 U.S. at 479. Thus, choice-of-law issues ...


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