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Custom Pak Brokerage, LLC v. Dandrea Produce, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 4, 2014

CUSTOM PAK BROKERAGE, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DANDREA PRODUCE, INC., RONALD P. DANDREA, FRANK S. DANDREA, STEVEN P. DANDREA, and JEFFREY J. GERAGI, Defendants.

THOMAS G. ALJIAN, JR. ALJIAN & MONTGOMERY COLTS NECK, N.J. On behalf of plaintiff

MICHAEL L. STONBERG KENNY SHELTON LIPTAK NOWAK LLP NEW YORK, NY On behalf of the Dandrea defendants

JEFFREY J. GERAGI DELRAY BEACH, FL Appearing pro se.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is the motion of defendant, Jeffrey J. Geragi, to dismiss the claims against him for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons expressed below, Geragi's motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Custom Pak Brokerage, LLC, a company based in Florida, filed suit against defendants Dandrea Produce Inc., a New Jersey company, and the company's principals, all New Jersey citizens, to recover unpaid invoices for watermelons Custom Pak sold to Dandrea. Custom Pak then filed an amended complaint to add claims against defendant Jeffrey Geragi, a citizen of Florida and a former employee of Custom Pak, for breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference with contractual relations when, according to Custom Pak, the Dandrea defendants informed Custom Pak that Geragi, as Custom Pak's agent, agreed to much lower pricing than what was stated on Custom Pak's invoices. Custom Pak alleges that Geragi retroactively tried to reduce the agreed upon price between Custom Pak and Dandrea in order to secure employment with Dandrea.

Geragi, appearing pro se, filed a motion to dismiss Custom Pak's claims against him pursuant to Federal Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. Custom Pak has opposed Geragi's motion.

DISCUSSION

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because plaintiff has asserted claims under section 5(c)(5) of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, 1930 ("PACA"), 7 U.S.C. § 499e(c)(5). The Court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

B. Standard for Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides for dismissal of an action when the Court does not have personal jurisdiction over a defendant. "Once challenged, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction." O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Gen. Elec. Co. v. Deutz AG, 270 F.3d 144, 150 (3d Cir. 2001)). In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Court must "accept all of the plaintiff's allegations as true and construe disputed facts in favor of the plaintiff." Carteret Sav. Bank v. Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 142 n.1 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 817 (1992) (citations omitted).[1]

A defendant is subject to the jurisdiction of a United States district court if the defendant "is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A). "A federal court sitting in New Jersey has jurisdiction over parties to the extent provided under New Jersey state law." Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 96 (3d Cir. 2004)(citations omitted). The New Jersey longarm statute "permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the fullest limits of due process." IMO ...


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