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Schwartz v. Planalytics, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 29, 2017

RICHARD SCHWARTZ, Plaintiff,
v.
PLANALYTICS, INC., Defendant.

          JEFFREY P. RESNICK, SHERMAN, SILVERSTEIN, KOHL, ROSE & PODOLSKY, PC, EAST GATE CORPORATE CENTER On behalf of Plaintiff

          LISA MARIE SCIDURLO, STEVENS & LEE, P.C. On behalf of Defendant

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff Richard Schwartz worked for Defendant Planalytics, Inc. for six years as a sales person. In 2016, Plaintiff, who was 55 years old at the time, was diagnosed with cancer and an atrial flutter. On June 10, 2016, Plaintiff notified Defendant's human resources director of his medical conditions and, according to Plaintiff, the HR director knew he was going to seek FMLA leave. On June 13, 2016, Defendant fired Plaintiff for poor work performance, even though Plaintiff contends that he was an exemplary employee who was a top sales producer and had never been disciplined or criticized.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act, (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (“ADEA”), the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq., the New Jersey Family and Medical Leave Act (“NJFMLA”), N.J.S.A. 34:11B-1 et seq., and breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing when Defendant terminated him from employment.

         Presently before the Court is the motion of Defendant to dismiss[1] Plaintiff's claims for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), or to dismiss six of Plaintiff's claims for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), or to transfer venue to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's motion will be granted in part, and the matter will be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject matter jurisdiction

         This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         B. Analysis

         Defendant argues that this Court does not have personal jurisdiction over it. Under the Due Process clause, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant is appropriate when the defendant has “certain minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). A defendant establishes minimum contacts by “‘purposefully avail[ing] itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, '” thereby invoking “‘the benefits and protections of [the forum State's] laws.'” Asahi Metal Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Sup. Ct. of California, 480 U.S. 102, 109 (1987) (quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985)).

         The Court may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a defendant where the cause of action is related to or arises out of activities by the defendant that took place within the forum state. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n.8 (1984).[2] A defendant's contacts with the forum may not be “random, ” “fortuitous” or “attenuated.” WorldWide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980).

         Plaintiff argues that this Court may exercise specific jurisdiction over Defendant because: a) it required him to work from a home office when it hired him, and that home office was in New Jersey; b) most of Defendant's sales representatives worked from home and that was how the company operated; c) Plaintiff worked from his home office four days a week, and only traveled to the Berwyn, PA office for Monday meetings, although he was not required to as he could have attended telephonically; d) Plaintiff's supervisor for most of his tenure worked remotely from Boston and now Florida; e) Plaintiff had been assigned to work on New Jersey accounts; f) at the time of his termination Plaintiff was prospecting New Jersey accounts; g) Defendant reimbursed his mileage costs from his home office and his home office expenses; h) Defendant paid Plaintiff by direct deposit to a bank in New Jersey; i) Plaintiff's phone calls were permanently forwarded to his home office; j) his email footer and business card included his New Jersey cell phone number; and k) Defendant never told Plaintiff that he was not permitted to work from his home office.

         Plaintiff argues that because Defendant purposely hired and employed for six years a New Jersey resident to work from his New Jersey home, his claims arise out of this relationship, and no factors render jurisdiction in New Jersey unfair or ...


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