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Court Lacks Personal Jurisdiction Over New Jersey Recruiter: KForce Inc. v Foote

Posted in Breach of Contract, Industry: Staffing Services, Justice Fried, Bernard J., Motion to Dismiss, New York, Personal Jurisdiction, Restrictive Covenant, Trade Secrets, Unfair Competition

In a September 21, 2011 decision by Justice Fried, the court granted defendant Kam’s motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the court lacked personal jurisdiction. Kam was employed by the plaintiff staffing firm as a recruiter. Almost one year after Kam resigned his position and began working for a different staffing firm, defendant Solomon-Page, the plaintiff brought suit alleging that Kam breached a restrictive covenant. The court found that Kam, a non-New York domiciliary, did not have the minimum contacts necessary to confer personal jurisdiction under CPLR § 302(a)(1) because he: (i) resided in New Jersey; (ii) formed his contract with the plaintiff in New Jersey; (iii) worked only in the plaintiff’s New Jersey office; (iv) placed job candidates with New Jersey businesses; and (v) worked only in Solomon-Page’s New Jersey office recruiting job candidates for New Jersey positions. The court rejected the plaintiff’s “laundry list” of activities Kam allegedly performed in New York as overstated and misrepresented, and noted that the plaintiff failed to allege that Kam engaged in activities in New York since resigning from the plaintiff’s employ and joining Solomon-Page. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that Kam received e-mails from the plaintiff’s New York employees and contacted clients in New York regarding job positions, finding that such conduct was neither “transacting business” nor sufficient to establish that Kam purposefully availed himself of New York. The court also found that it lacked jurisdiction under CPLR § 302(a)(3) because the plaintiff failed to establish that Kam regularly solicited business in New York, derived substantial revenue from New York, expected his tortious conduct to have an impact in New York, or that the plaintiff sustained an injury in New York.

Kforce Inc. v Foote, Sup Ct NY County, Sept. 21, 2011, Fried, J, Index No. 601146/10