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J.G. C.M. v. C.M.

April 26, 2013

J.G. C.M. PLAINTIFF,
v.
C.M.
DEFENDANT.
v.
THIRD-PARTY
PLAINTIFF,
V.G., N.G., AND MARY JO LYNCH,
THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini, U.S.D.J.:

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Third-Party Defendant ("TPD") Mary Jo Lynch's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2).*fn1 Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff C.M. ("Christopher M.")*fn2 opposes the motion. For the reasons set forth below, TPD Lynch's motion is DENIED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND*fn3

On May 19, 2011, Plaintiff J.G. ("Jason G.") initiated this action against Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff Christopher M. (hereinafter, alternatively referred to as "TPP"). As explained in the Court's November 17, 2011 Letter Opinion:

[Jason G.] is a twenty-three year old male and resident of California. [Christopher M.] is thirty-two years old, and a resident of New Jersey. . . . . . . . [Jason G. alleges that] Beginning in 1995, when [Jason G.] was seven years old and [Christopher M.] was sixteen, [Christopher M.] began sexually abusing [Jason G.] These repeated instances of sexual abuse continued until 1999. (Nov. 17, 2011 Letter Op. 2, ECF No. 17.) TPP Christopher M. denies that he sexually abused Jason G.

Christopher M.'s Third-Party Complaint

Third Party-Plaintiff Christopher M. alleges that beginning sometime around December 15, 2009, Third-Party Defendants V.G. ("Virginia G."), N.G. ("Nora G."), and Mary Jo Lynch*fn4 "began making a series of false and defamatory statements toward and about" his alleged sexual abuse of Jason G. (Third-Party Compl. ¶ 9, ECF No. 37.) More precisely -- and relevant to the present motion -- TPP alleges that the TPDs called him on several occasions and made abusive remarks. (Id. at ¶¶ 13, 16.) TPP further claims that the TPDs also called a number of third-parties, including TPP's employer, and falsely told those third-parties that TPP sexually abused Jason G. (Id.) TPP asserts that as a result of the TPDs' knowingly false and defamatory allegations, he has incurred damage to his reputation, was fired from his position as Chief of Staff for a New Jersey senator, and has suffered physical and emotional harm . (Id. at ¶¶ 18, 48, 52.)

Based on these allegations, on July 5, 2012, TPP filed a Third-Party Complaint in which he asserts the following tort claims against all three TPDs: (1) Defamation/Libel; (2) Civil Conspiracy; (3) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; (4) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress; and (5) Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage.

In response, TPD Lynch filed the present Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. In support of that motion, TPD Lynch notes the following: she is a Virginia resident; she has never been a New Jersey resident; she does not work in New Jersey; she does not own any property or maintain bank accounts in New Jersey; she does not pay taxes to New Jersey; and "her only involvement with this case was to place three cell phone telephone calls to [TPP] from Virginia. In each call I only advised [TPP] to have no further contact with [Jason G.] and [Nora G.]" (Cert. of Mary Jo Lynch, ECF No. 50-5.) Based on these facts, TPD asserts that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over her.

II. DISCUSSION*fn5

A.Personal Jurisdiction Generally

As an initial matter, the Court notes the following: First, that once a defendant raises a Rule 12(b)(2) personal jurisdiction defense, the plaintiff bears the burden of coming forward with a set of facts sufficient to create a prima facie case of jurisdiction. See, e.g., Mellon Bank PSFS v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992). And further, that because such a defense "requires resolution of factual issues outside the pleadings," a plaintiff's jurisdictional allegations must be supported with appropriate affidavits or documents. Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd, 735 F.2d 61, 67 n. 9 (3d Cir. 1984).

Second, that a federal district court is permitted to exercise "personal jurisdiction over a nonresident of the state in which the court sits to the extent authorized by the law of that state." Provident Nat'l Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 436 (3d Cir.1987) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e)). Thus, to determine if personal jurisdiction is permitted over an out-of-state defendant, a federal court first looks to the forum state's long-arm statute, which in New Jersey, permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the fullest limits of due process under the United States Constitution. Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 96 (3d Cir. 2004).

And third, that to resolve the present motion, ultimately, this Court must determine whether the exercise of in personam jurisdiction over TPD Lynch comports with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment ...


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