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Kazanjian Bros., Inc. v. Jaziri

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 3, 2015

KAZANJIAN BROS., INC., a California corporation, Plaintiff,


DEAN D. PREGERSON, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction ("Motion"). (Dkt. No. 8.) Having considered the parties' submissions, the Court DENIES the Motion and adopts the following order.


Kazanjian Bros., Inc. ("Plaintiff") is a California corporation that operates a high-end jewelry business. (Opposition to Motion to Dismiss ("Opp."), Dkt. No. 11, at 1.) Plaintiff operates a store and showroom in Beverly Hills, California. (Id.) Defendant Neila Jaziri ("Jaziri") is a French citizen residing in Paris, France. (Mot. at 3.) Jaziri is the sole manager and owner of Art World and Neila Vintage & Design (collectively with Jaziri, "Defendants"). (Id.) Art World is a business registered and organized in France with its principal place of business in Paris, France. (Id.) Art World operates a retail vintage fashion boutique business in Paris, France known as Neila Vintage & Design. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges the parties have developed a mutually beneficial relationship based on the sale and purchase of high-end jewelry, where Plaintiffs would sell Defendants items for resale to Defendants' international clientele. (Opp. at 5-6.) This relationship began in August 2011 and went through 2013. (Id. at 6.) Prior to the transaction at issue in this case, Plaintiff alleges Defendants purchased a platinum necklace from Defendants in August 2011 and a sapphire ring from Defendants in September 2011. (Id. at 5.) During the course of this business relationship, Plaintiff alleges, the parties exchanged over 500 emails. (Id.) Defendants also came to Plaintiff's store in Beverly Hills on April 27, 2012, to look at jewelry pieces in person. (Id. at 5-6.) Although Defendants claim that all contact concerning the sale of any piece of jewelry was initiated by Plaintiff and that Defendants never viewed jewelry in person in California (see Declaration of Neila Jaziri ("Jaziri Decl."), Dkt. No. 9-1, ¶¶ 12, 14, 15), Plaintiff claims that Defendants reached out to Plaintiff multiple times to inquire whether Plaintiff had particular items for sale. (Opp. at 6-8.)

The present dispute concerns Plaintiff's sale of a Van Cleef & Arpels diamond bracelet ("the bracelet") to Defendants. Plaintiff alleges Defendant agreed to purchase the bracelet from Plaintiff on June 11, 2013, for the sum of $660, 000. (Id. at 2.) On that date, Plaintiff's agent delivered the bracelet to Defendants in Paris, France. (Id.) The payments were to be made in two installments to Plaintiff's bank account in Beverly Hills, CA. (Id.) Defendants signed an invoice that stated the purchase price was $660, 000. (Id. at 2-3; Exh. A to Declaration of Jasmine Rafati ("Rafati Decl."), Dkt. No. 11-2.)

Plaintiff alleges Defendants never made the payments as scheduled. (Id. at 3.) Instead, Plaintiff states, during several months of dialogue over the payments, Defendants finally made two wire transfers to Plaintiff's bank account totaling $200, 000. (Id. at 3-4.) The last payment Plaintiff allegedly received was made on April 18, 2014. (Id. at 4.)

On June 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint in California Superior Court ("Complaint"), stating causes of action for breach of written and oral contract, fraud, conversion, and trespass to chattels. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) All causes of action arise from the single transaction detailed above - Plaintiff's sale of the bracelet to Defendants. Id. On July 21, 2014, Defendants removed this action to federal court under diversity jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 1.) Defendants now move to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). (Dkt. No. 8.)


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides that a court may dismiss a suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. The plaintiff has the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists. See Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990). Where, as here, the motion is based on written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, "the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts." Caruth v. International Psychoanalytical Ass'n, 59 F.3d 126, 128 (9th Cir. 1977); Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy, 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006). "Although the plaintiff cannot simply rest on the bare allegations of its complaint, uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true." Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 797 (9th Cir. 2004) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Conflicts between parties over statements contained in affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Id.

District courts have the power to exercise personal jurisdiction to the extent authorized by the law of the state in which they sit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A); Panavision Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir. 1998). Because California's long-arm statute authorizes personal jurisdiction coextensive with the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution, see Cal. Civ. Code § 410.10, this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant when that defendant has "at least minimum contacts' with the relevant forum such that the exercise of jurisdiction does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800-01 (citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). The contacts must be of such a quality and nature that the defendants could reasonably expect to be "haled into court there." World-Wide Volkswagen v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980).

There are two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific. Reebok Int'l Ltd. v. McLaughlin, 49 F.3d 1387, 1391 (9th Cir. 1995). A court may exercise general personal jurisdiction over a defendant when the defendant's contacts are "so continuous and systematic as to render them essentially at home in the forum state." Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851 (2011) (internal quotations omitted).

Specific personal jurisdiction may be found when the cause of action arises out of the defendant's contact or activities in the forum state. See Roth v. Garcia Marquez, 942 F.2d 617, 620 (9th Cir. 1991). The Ninth Circuit has set forth the following three-pronged test to determine whether specific personal jurisdiction exists: "(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 forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable." Lake v. Lake, 817 F.2d 1416, 1421 (9th Cir. 1986). If the plaintiff ...

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