Thursday, March 15, 2007

(I've Got) Diamonds on the Soles of My International Shoes

Solo practitioners should take careful note of the First Department's opinion in Fischbarg v. Doucet, decided on March 13, 2007. Plaintiff is a New York solo and defendant is a California resident and president of a California corporation. In 2001 defendant telephoned plaintiff who agreed to "research and pursue potential claims" sounding in copyright infringement. Defendant was later sued in Orgeon where plaintiff was admitted pro hac vice. Plaintiff never appeared in Oregon and worked the entire matter out of his New York office. Depositions and court conferences were handled by telephone, as were summary judgment motions. After a fee dispute, defendant fired plaintiff in 2002 and plaintiff is suing for legal fees based on quantum meruit. The fight, of course, is over jurisdiction and the reach of New York's long-arm statute on these facts. The opinion is instructive as regards "articulable nexus" and "purposeful availment," as well as on the impact of evolving technologies on traditional jurisdictional principles. The majority stands, though, on familiar ground: the defendant asked plaintiff to do "substantial work" in New York, and, therefore, is subject to New York jurisdiction. I think the majority got it right, but there is a lengthy dissent. See what you think.