United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION
W. EGINTON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, plaintiffs 3GTMS and Mitch Weseley allege breach of
settlement agreement (Count I), defamation (Count II),
tortious interference with business relations (Count III),
and false light (Count IV) against defendant Geoff Comrie.
Plaintiffs assert that as part of an earlier settlement
agreement between the parties in the District of Connecticut,
defendant agreed to refrain from disclosing confidential
information or making disparaging statements concerning
plaintiffs. It is alleged that defendant breached that
agreement by distributing a series of false, misleading, and
disparaging email letters concerning plaintiffs to parties in
Connecticut, including board members of 3GTMS. Defendant has
now moved to dismiss this action for lack of personal
jurisdiction. For the following reasons, defendant's
motion will be denied.
bear the burden of demonstrating personal jurisdiction over
defendant. See Metro Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco
Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 566 (2d Cir. 1996). Prior to
discovery, plaintiffs may defeat a motion to dismiss by
pleading legally sufficient allegations of personal
jurisdiction. See Ball v. Metallurgie Hoboken-Overpelt,
S.A., 902 F.2d 194, 197 (2d Cir. 1990).
determine the existence of personal jurisdiction over
defendant, the court must look first to whether the
state's long-arm statute reaches defendant's conduct
and then analyze whether asserting jurisdiction comports with
due process. Mario Valente Collezioni, Ltd. v. Confezioni
Semeraro Paolo, S.R.L., 264 F.3d 32, 37 (2d Cir. 2001).
argues that he does not transact or solicit business in
Connecticut, has not committed any tortious acts in
Connecticut, and does not engage in any other persistent
course of conduct in Connecticut. Defendant views and
analyzes his individual actions involving Connecticut in
isolation, arguing that each is insufficient to establish
jurisdiction. When viewed in totality, defendant's
contacts are more than sufficient.
is a former employee and a current 10% shareholder of 3GTMS,
which is located in Shelton, Connecticut. His employment
ended in September 2015. While working at 3GTMS, defendant
traveled to Connecticut at least three times per year to
attend meetings. After leaving 3GTMS, defendant filed a
wrongful termination lawsuit against plaintiffs in the
District of Connecticut. Defendant retained Connecticut
counsel to prosecute that case. The case was settled, and the
settlement agreement expressly prohibited defendant from
disclosing confidential information of 3GTMS or making
disparaging statements concerning 3GTMS or Weseley.
Nevertheless, in January 2017, defendant directed a series of
disparaging emails at Connecticut residents, including a
“wide swath of 3GTMS stockholders, non-stockholder
employees, board of directors and third parties.”
Like the sale of real property, the entry into a settlement
agreement to resolve a civil action is a “legal act of
a most serious nature. It uses terms and procedures commonly
associated with business and involves a financial
transaction.” Id. The court concludes that
execution of such an agreement falls within the
“appropriately broad meaning of the term
‘business' in [Section] 52-59b.” Id.
See Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, Ltd. v.
Pryor, 425 F.3d 158, 167 (2d Cir.2005) (“Settling
a civil suit seeking compensation for, inter alia, healthcare
costs is a business transaction.”) (citing
Ainbinder v. Potter, 282 F.Supp.2d 180, 186-87
(S.D.N.Y.2003)); Zartolas, 184 Conn. at 473, 440
A.2d 179 (finding pertinent judicial interpretation of New
York's long arm statute in construing the term
“transacts any business.”).
Quinn v. Fishkin, 117 F.Supp.3d 134, 141 (D. Conn.
2015). Defendant's entry into a settlement agreement at
the conclusion of the case he filed against his employer in
Connecticut, which agreement serves in part as the basis of
the instant action, is sufficient to satisfy the business
transaction requirement of Connecticut's long-arm
exercise of personal jurisdiction satisfies the minimum
contacts and reasonableness tests as not to violate federal
due process. See id. Defendant has purposefully
availed himself of the privilege of doing business in this
forum and could have foreseen being haled into court here.
See Eades v. Kennedy, PC Law Offices, 799 F.3d 161,
169 (2d Cir. 2015). Considering his history of contacts with
the State, including the initiation of the prior lawsuit, the
burden of answering the claims that he breached the prior
settlement agreement is not great. In contrast,
Connecticut's interests in adjudicating the case are
strong, as are plaintiffs' interests in obtaining
convenient and effective relief. The aggrieved parties and
their alleged injuries are located here, and the prior
settlement agreement was expressly subject to Connecticut
law. This Court is best positioned to resolve the controversy
efficiently and effectively. Accordingly, the assertion of
personal jurisdiction comports with fair play and substantial
justice. See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471
U.S. 462, 476-77 (1985).
foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss for lack