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CBS Outdoor, LLC v. Jason International, LLC

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Haven, New Haven

January 29, 2016

CBS Outdoor, LLC
v.
Jason International, LLC

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (#106)

          Robin L. Wilson, J.

         FACTS

         The plaintiff, CBS Outdoor, LLC, commenced this action against the defendant, Jason International, LLC, by service of process on May 8, 2015. This case arises from a default judgment issued by the Arizona Superior Court, in and for Maricopa County, which involved an unpaid balance on an advertising agreement entered into by the plaintiff and the defendant on June 5, 2012.[1] On June 20, 2014, the Superior Court of Arizona rendered a default judgment against the defendant. The judgment was for damages in the amount of $16, 492.15 plus interest. In its complaint to this court, the plaintiff seeks to enforce the Arizona judgment in Connecticut. The plaintiff alleges that this judgment remains wholly unsatisfied and enforcement of this judgment has not been stayed. The plaintiff further alleges that it made demand upon the defendant for payment of the judgment, but to date, the defendant has failed, refused, and neglected to pay. The plaintiff seeks money damages and costs. On June 30, 2015, the defendant filed an answer and special defenses. The defendant admits that a judgment remains wholly unsatisfied and that the plaintiff made demand for payment of the judgment, but it denies the validity of the judgment. By way of special defense, the defendant claims that the foreign judgment is invalid because the Arizona Superior Court lacked personal jurisdiction over it. The defendant also claims and reserves contractual defenses and counterclaims against the plaintiff.

         On August 3, 2015, the plaintiff filed this motion for summary judgment pursuant to General Statutes § 52-607.[2] The plaintiff argues that there is no genuine issue of material fact that the Arizona Superior Court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over the plaintiff. A memorandum of law and affidavit accompany the plaintiff's motion. On August 19, 2015, the defendant filed a memorandum in opposition to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment with an affidavit. On September 24, 2015, and October 7, 2015, the plaintiff and the defendant respectively filed reply memoranda. The plaintiff attached a supplemental affidavit in support of its motion for summary judgment to its reply memorandum. Oral argument was heard on the motion at short calendar on October 26, 2015.

         DISCUSSION

         I

         LEGAL STANDARD OF REVIEW

         " The motion for summary judgment is designed to eliminate the delay and expense of litigating an issue when there is no real issue to be tried . . . [T]he moving party for summary judgment is held to a strict standard . . . of demonstrating his entitlement to summary judgment." (Citation omitted; footnote omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Grenier v. Commissioner of Transportation, 306 Conn. 523, 534-35, 51 A.3d 367 (2012). " To satisfy his burden the movant must make a showing that it is quite clear what the truth is, and that excludes any real doubt as to the existence of any genuine issue of material fact." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Ferri v. Powell-Ferri, 317 Conn. 223, 228, 116 A.3d 297 (2015). " [S]ummary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, affidavits and other proof submitted show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law . . . In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the trial court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Stuart v. Freiberg, 316 Conn. 809, 820-21, 116 A.3d 1195 (2015).

         " The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of showing the absence of any genuine issue [of] material facts which, under applicable principles of substantive law, entitle him to a judgment as a matter of law . . . and the party opposing such a motion must provide an evidentiary foundation to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of material fact . . . A material fact . . . [is] a fact which will make a difference in the result of the case." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Stuart v. Freiberg, supra, 316 Conn. 821. " [T]he rule that the party opposing summary judgment must provide evidentiary support for its opposition applies only when the moving party has first made out a prima facie case for summary judgment . . . [I]f the party moving for summary judgment fails to show that there are no genuine issues of material fact, the nonmoving party may rest on mere allegations or denials contained in his pleadings . . ." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Romprey v. Safeco Ins. Co. of America, 310 Conn. 304, 320-21, 77 A.3d 726 (2013). " [T]he party moving for summary judgment . . . is required to support its motion with supporting documentation, including affidavits." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., at 324 n.12. " Likewise, [t]he existence of the genuine issue of material fact must be demonstrated by counteraffidavits and concrete evidence." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) United States Bank, N.A. v. Foote, 151 Conn.App. 620, 632-33, 94 A.3d 1267, cert. denied, 314 Conn. 930, 101 A.3d 952 (2014).

         As a threshold matter, the court must determine whether the evidence submitted by the parties is admissible. " Only evidence that would be admissible at trial may be used to support or oppose a motion for summary judgment." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Great Country Bank v. Pastore, 241 Conn. 423, 436, 696 A.2d 1254 (1997), citing Practice Book § 381 [now § 17-46]. " [Affidavits] must: (1) be based on 'personal knowledge'; (2) constitute facts that would be admissible at trial; and (3) affirmatively show that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated in the affidavit." Barrett v. Danbury Hospital, 232 Conn. 242, 251, 654 A.2d 748 (1995). In general, " [i]t is within the court's discretion whether to accept or decline [to accept] . . . supplemental evidence." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Bruno v. Geller, 136 Conn.App. 707, 715, 46 A.3d 974, cert. denied, 306 Conn. 905, 52 A.3d 732 (2012).

         The plaintiff moves for summary judgment pursuant to § 52-607 on the ground that there is no genuine issue of material fact that the Arizona Superior Court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over the defendant and, therefore, it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The plaintiff claims that the certified copy of the default judgment and evidence of the forum selection clause in the Agreement establishes that the Arizona Superior Court had proper personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The plaintiff reasons that the foreign default judgment is entitled to full-faith and credit as provided by the United States Constitution. Furthermore, the plaintiff reasons that by signing and accepting the Agreement, the defendant consented to the forum selection clause and, therefore, to the jurisdiction of the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County. In support of its argument, the plaintiff offers the following evidence: the affidavit of Claudio E. Iannitelli, the attorney for the plaintiff in the Arizona action, with a certified copy of the Arizona default judgment attached and the affidavit of Neil Best, Director of Credit and Collections and custodian of records for the plaintiff, with a copy of the Advertiser Agreement and Terms and Conditions (Agreement) entered into between the plaintiff and the defendant attached.

         In response, the defendant contends that the foreign judgment is invalid because the Arizona Superior Court lacked personal jurisdiction over it.[3] The defendant maintains that it lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Arizona as required by due process and that the forum selection clause in the Agreement is insufficient to otherwise demonstrate minimum contacts. The defendant further argues that, the designated forum in the forum selection clause was not reasonable because of the defendant's lack of minimum contacts with Arizona. The defendant concludes that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether consent to the forum selection clause overcomes the defendant's lack of minimum contacts and whether Arizona is a reasonably appropriate forum. In support of its argument, the defendant offers the affidavit of Ed Moustafa, the sole member of the defendant, averring to personal knowledge of the defendant's exclusive contacts with Connecticut and lack of contacts with Arizona.[4]

         II

         ANALYSIS UNDER GENERAL ...


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