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Fractional Villas, Inc. v. Zockoll's Reflections

April 19, 2010

FRACTIONAL VILLAS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
ZOCKOLL'S REFLECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. 25]

DEFENDANT CHRISTOPHER H.

Presently before the Court is Defendant Christopher H. Zockoll's Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Fractional Villas is in the business of marketing, advertising, and selling fractional ownership interests in luxury properties. (Compl., ¶ 2.) In October 2007, Plaintiff entered into negotiations with William Clapperton, managing partner of Aqua Surf LLC, regarding development and marketing of real property located at 2663 Ocean Front Walk #3, San Diego, California. (Id. at ¶ 34.) In November 2007, Plaintiff entered into a consulting agreement with Aqua Surf regarding the property, a broker agreement with William Clapperton, Clapperton Coastal Properties, and Chris Love, and several non-disclosure agreements to protect Plaintiff's confidential information. (Id. at ¶¶ 34-38.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Reflections, Reflections Private Residence Club, LLC, and Christopher H. Zockoll intentionally interfered with Plaintiff's business dealings and induced Mr. Clapperton and Aqua Surf to breach their agreements with Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 34-48.) The property was ultimately sold and Defendants received consulting fees and/or commissions. (Id. at ¶ 45.)

Plaintiff further alleges that it owns a copyright on certain content used on its website, www.fractionalvillas.com, and that it has a copyrighted "Reservation Agreement" which it uses in transactions involving fractional ownership interest of luxury properties. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 26-27.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants infringed the copyright on its website, www.time2reflect.com, and that Defendants used significant portions of the Reservation Agreement in its own transactions. (Id. at ¶¶ 23, 30.)

Defendant Zockoll is a resident of Nevada and Defendants Reflections and Reflections Private Residence are Nevada entities. (Id. at ¶¶ 3-5.) Zockoll is president of Reflections. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Plaintiff alleges that Reflections and Reflections Private Residence conduct business in California and that each Defendant was the agent or alter ego of the other Defendants. (Id. at ¶¶ 3-4, 8.) Plaintiff alleges that personal jurisdiction is proper because Defendants purposefully directed activities in the Southern District of California. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-13.)

Plaintiff filed suit on August 5, 2008, alleging claims of copyright infringement, unfair competition, and intentional interference with contract and prospective economic advantage. On September 15, 2008, the clerk entered default against all three Defendants. (Docs. 9-11.) On June 24, 2009, Defendant Zockoll filed a motion to set aside the default, which this Court granted on December 8, 2009. (Docs. 14 & 23.) Zockoll filed the present motion to dismiss on January 12, 2010. (Doc. 25.) Plaintiff filed an opposition. (Doc. 26.) Zockoll did not file a reply.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Defendant moves for dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.*fn1 On a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff bears the burden to demonstrate the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Brayton Purcell LLP v. Recordon & Recordon, 575 F.3d 981, 985 (9th Cir. 2009.) In the absence of an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a "prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss." Id. (quoting Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy, 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006).). Any uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint are taken as true, and any factual conflicts are resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Id.

Personal jurisdiction can be established over a defendant "who could be subjected to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state in which the district court is located." Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A). Because the California jurisdictional "long-arm" statute permits the exercise of jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by the United States Constitution, the state and federal limits are co-extensive. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 410.10. Thus, the singular issue is whether the Court's exercise of jurisdiction violates our Constitutional principles of due process. Haisten v. Grass Valley Med. Reimb. Fund, Ltd., 784 F.2d 1392, 1396 (9th Cir. 1986).

There is a three-prong test to determine whether a party has sufficient minimum contacts with the forum to establish specific personal jurisdiction:*fn2

(1) The non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the ...


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