John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 v. MT Marida Marguerite Schiffahrts, et al

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

December 12, 2012

John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 v. MT Marida Marguerite Schiffahrts, et al

Response to Motion to Dismiss

With piracy on the rise, seaman on commercial shipping vessels are finding themselves in increasingly dangerous situations. The experienced maritime attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. know how to protect the rights of seafarers if they become the victims of piracy while working at sea. In this case, our experienced maritime attorneys brought claims against a shipowner, who allegedly took a negligent course, causing these crewmembers to be kidnapped by pirates. In this memorandum of law, our attorneys fight against a defendant’s attempt to avoid the jurisdiction of U.S. Courts.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CASE NO. 3:12-CV-00879-SRU
JOHN DOE and JOHN DOE 2,
Plaintiffs,

vs.

MT marida marguerite schifffahrts,
MARIDA TANKERS INC., HEIDMAR, INC.,
XYZ SHIP OWNER, and XYZ SHIP EMPLOYER,
Defendants.
______________________________________/

PLAINTIFFS’ PRELIMINARY RESPONSE WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF DISCOVERY IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT, MT MARIDA MARGUERITE SCHIFFFAHRTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS’ COMPLAINT D.E. 17

COMES NOW, Plaintiffs, JOHN DOE and JOHN DOE 2, and hereby file their Preliminary Response without the benefit of discovery in opposition to Defendant, MT MARIDA MARGUERITE SCHIFFFAHRTS’ (“Marida Marguerite”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint and rely in good faith on the following memorandum of law.

MEMORANDUM OF LAW

MARIDA MARGUERITE’S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION SHOULD BE DENIED BECAUSE MARIDA MARGUERITE FALLS SQUARELY UNDER CONNECTICUT’S LONG ARM STATUTE WHICH EXPRESSLY PROVIDES THAT THIS HONORABLE COURT MAY MAINTAIN JURISDICTION OVER A FOREIGN PARTNERSHIP WHO, IN PERSON OR THOUGH AN AGENT, TRANSACTS ANY BUSINESS WITHIN THE STATE. HEREIN, SINCE 2008, MARIDA MARGUERITE, HAS HAD ITS VESSEL IN A SHIPPING POOL OPERATED AND/OR MANAGED BY TWO CONNECTICUT BASED AGENTS (CO-DEFENDANTS HEIDMAR AND MARIDA TANKERS). FURTHERMORE, THERE ARE NO DUE PROCESS CONCERNS AS MARIDA MARGUERIATE HAS PURPOSEFULLY AVAILED ITSELF OF THE PRIVILEGE OF DOING BUSINESS IN CONNECTICUT SINCE 2008, AND MUST THEREBY HAVE REASONABLY ANTICIPATED BEING HALED INTO COURT IN CONNECTICUT. LASTLY, MARIDA MARGUERITE’S ARGUMENTS REGARDING SERVICE OF PROCESS ARE DEVOID OF MERIT BOTH TECHNICALLY AND PRACTICALLY, AS MARIDA MARGUERITE HAS CERTAINLY BEEN GIVEN ADEQUATE NOTICE OF THE INSTANT ACTION.

I. OVERVIEW

The instant matter arises out of the grievous personal injuries sustained to the Plaintiffs, who were crewmembers aboard the vessel, M/V Marida Marguerite, when the vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates. Plaintiffs were held hostage for roughly 8 months and repeatedly tortured, both physically, emotionally and psychologically.

At the time of the incident, the subject vessel was owned by Marida Marguerite and chartered to Defendant MARIDA TANKERS, INC., which is operated in a pool managed by Defendant HEIDMAR. [D.E. 19, 1, 9]. Heidmar is the “general agent and commercial manager” of the Marida Tankers pool (among others).[1] [D.E. 26-1]. Heidmar and Marida Tankers are both located in this state – Heidmar is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut [See Exhibit 1], and Marida Tankers, a subsidiary of Heidmar has offices in Connecticut. [See Exhibit 2; see also D.E. 26-2, p.11].

On June 14, 2012, Plaintiffs filed suit against Marida Marguerite, Marida Tankers, and Heidmar alleging Negligence Per Se (Count I), Jones Act Negligence (Count II), Unseaworthiness (Count III), Failure to Provide Maintenance and Cure (Count IV), Failure to Treat (Count V), and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count VI). [D.E. 1]. Defendants Heidmar and Marida Tankers each filed their respective Answers. [D.E. 12, 40].

On July 30, 2012, Marida Marguerite filed its Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient service of process. [D.E. 17]. On August 14, 2012, Plaintiffs moved to stay the case pending completion of limited jurisdictional discovery for purposes of responding to Marida Marguerite’s Motion to Dismiss. [D.E. 26]. On August 15, 2012, this Honorable Court granted the Plaintiffs’ motion. [D.E. 27]. Thereafter, on August 29, 2012, Marida Marguerite moved for reconsideration of the Court’s Order [D.E. 34], which this Court granted on November 20, 2012. [D.E. 42]. As such, Plaintiffs have not been given an opportunity to conduct and complete the limited discovery needed to fully respond to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.[2] This preliminary response without the benefit of requested limited discovery does not waive Plaintiffs renewed motion to conduct said limited discovery.

In light of the Plaintiffs’ inability to conduct discovery, the case law is clear (set forth below), that Plaintiffs need only make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction in order to defeat Marida Marguerite’s Motion to Dismiss.

As set forth below, Marida Marguerite’s motion should be denied because Marida Marguerite falls under the plain language of Connecticut’s Long Arm Statute. Plaintiffs can easily establish the required prima facie showing needed to defeat the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of Personal Jurisdiction. Namely, it is undisputed that since 2008, Marida Marguerite has been involved in a business relationship with two Connecticut based entities, Co-Defendants Heidmar and Marida Tankers, Inc., whereby Defendant Marida Marguerite’s vessel has been a member of Marida Tanker’s Shipping Pool, which is managed by Heidmar.

Furthermore, at the time of the subject incident, the subject vessel, owned by the moving Defendant, was time chartered to Defendant Marida Tankers Inc., and a member of a shipping pool managed by Heidmar. As such, Marida Marguerite’s Connecticut connection is more than sufficient to maintain personal jurisdiction over it.

This is best evidenced by the fact that Marida Marguerite has ongoing contractual relationships (since 2008) with companies located in Connecticut (Co-Defendants Heidmar and Marida Tankers), in order to manage and market its vessel. Copies attached as Exhibits 3 & 4. These continuous and systematic contacts since 2008 nullify any due process concerns. Consequently, Marida Marguerite is within the reach of Connecticut’s long-arm statute and this Honorable Court should exercise jurisdiction over it.

Furthermore, the Plaintiffs properly affected service of process, as best evidenced by the fact that the moving Defendant has appeared and is defending the instant action.

II.This Honorable Court should exercise personal jurisdiction over Marida Marguerite pursuant to Connecticut’s long-arm statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-59b(a)(1), and doing so will not violate Marida Marguerite’s Due Process rights.

The resolution of jurisdictional issues involves a two-step analysis. Knipple v. Viking Communications, Ltd., 674 A.2d 426, 428-29 (Conn. 1996). First, the court must determine whether Connecticut’s long-arm statute authorizes jurisdiction over the defendant. Id. If so, then the court’s second step is to determine if the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant violates constitutional principles of due process. Id.

When a defendant moves to dismiss a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction, the “plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the court has jurisdiction over the defendant.” Amerbelle Corp. v. Hommell, 272 F.Supp.2d 189, 192 (D. Conn. 2003). The showing necessary to meet this burden depends on the stage at which the motion is brought and whether jurisdictional discovery has been conducted. “When there has been no discovery conducted, the plaintiff need only assert ‘facts constituting a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction’ to defeat a motion to dismiss.” Amerbelle, 272 F.Supp.2d at 192 (citing PDK Labs Inc. v. Friedlander, 103 F.3d 1105, 1108 (2d Cir. 1997)) (emphasis added). That showing is made through the complaint, affidavits or exhibits, which “in the absence of an evidentiary hearing or a trial on the merits… are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Amerbelle, 272 F.Supp.2d at 192 (emphasis added); see also Halo Tech Holdings, Inc. v. Cooper, No. 3:07-CV-489(AHN), 2008 WL 877156 at *7 (D. Conn. March 26, 2008). Additionally, “regardless of the controverting evidence put forth by the defendant, the court must resolve all doubts in the plaintiff’s favor.” Amerbelle, 272 F.Supp.2d at 193 (citing A.I. Trade Finance, Inc. v. Petra Bank, 989 F.2d 76, 79-80 (2d Cir. 1993)) (emphasis added).

Herein, it is important for this Honorable Court to recognize that Plaintiffs have not been given the opportunity to conduct and complete their requested limited discovery. As such, Plaintiffs’ burden is slight and all doubts should be resolved in Plaintiffs’ favor. Keeping this standard in mind, Defendant Marida Marguerite’s Motion to Dismiss is easily resolved.

A.Marida Marguerite’s business transactions since 2008 fall squarely under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-59b(a)(1).

This Honorable Court’s first step is to determine whether Connecticut’s long-arm statute authorizes jurisdiction over the defendant. Knipple, 674 A.2d at 428-29. This step is quickly resolved as Defendant Marida Marguerite, a German limited partnership, falls squarely under the applicable long-arm statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-59b, which expressly states:

Sec. 52-59b. Jurisdiction of courts over nonresident individuals, foreign partnerships and foreign voluntary associations. Service of process. (a) As to a cause of action arising from any of the acts enumerated in this section, a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over any nonresident individual, foreign partnership or foreign voluntary association, or over the executor or administrator of such nonresident individual, foreign partnership or foreign voluntary association, who in person or through an agent: (1) Transacts any business within the state; Emphasis added.

As succinctly alleged in the Plaintiffs’ Complaint, at paragraph 4: “Defendants, at all times material hereto, personally or through an agent: a. Transacted business within this state.” [D.E. 1, 4(a)]. Herein, stated simply, Marida Marguerite, through its agents Marida Tankers and/or Heidmar, has transacted business within the state, since 2008.

As such, Plaintiffs can easily establish the required prima facie showing needed to defeat the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of Personal Jurisdiction. It is undisputedem> that since 2008, Marida Marguerite has been involved in a business relationship with two Connecticut based entities, Co-Defendants Heidmar and Marida Tankers, Inc., whereby Defendant Marida Marguerite’s vessel has been a member of Marida Tanker’s Shipping Pool, which is managed by Heidmar.[3] Furthermore, at the time of the subject incident, the subject vessel, owned by the moving Defendant, was time chartered to Defendant Marida Tankers Inc., and a member of a shipping pool managed by Heidmar. As such, Marida Marguerite’s Connecticut Connection is more than sufficient to maintain personal jurisdiction over it.

This ongoing business relationship is best evidenced by the contracts produced by Defendant Heidmar. Copies attached as Exhibits 3 and 4.

Importantly, the Connecticut Supreme Court construes “transacts any business” to embrace “a single purposeful business transaction.” Milne, 239 F.Supp.2d at 202 (quoting Zartolas v. Nisenfeld, 184 Conn. 471, 474, 475, 440 A.2d 179, 181 (1981). Further to this point, Connecticut case law supports the finding that Defendant Marida Marguerite transacts business in Connecticut. In Vertrue Inc. v. Meshkin, 429 F.Supp.2d 479, 490 (D. Conn. 2006), the court held to determine whether an out-of-state defendant “transacts business” in Connecticut, there are several relevant factors, including:

(1) “whether the defendant has an on-going contractual relationship with a [Connecticut] corporation;” (2) “whether the contract was negotiated or executed in [Connecticut] and whether, after executing a contract with a [Connecticut] business, the defendant visited [Connecticut] for the purpose of meeting with parties to the contract regarding the relationship;” (3) “what the choice-of-law clause is in any such contract;” and (4) “whether the contract requires franchisees to send notices and payments into the forum state or subjects them to supervision by the corporation in the forum state.” Emphasis added.

Herein, despite the lack of jurisdictional discovery, several factors support the prima facie finding that Marida Marguerite has transacted business within this state since 2008.
First, Marida Marguerite has ongoing contractual relationships with two Connecticut corporations, Marida Tankers and Heidmar. In 2008, Marida Marguerite entered into a charter agreement with Marida Tankers for the subject vessel. Copy attached as Exhibit 3.[4] Pursuant to the terms of the contract, Marida Marguerite (as the ship owner) agreed to charter its vessel to be operated and managed by Marida Tankers and Marida Tankers’ owner, Heidmar. In connection with the charter agreement, the parties also entered into a pool agreement in 2008. Copy attached as Exhibit 4. Of critical importance, the pool agreement refers to Marida Marguerite as “Principal” and Heidmar as its “Agent”. As stated above, both Heidmar and Marida Tankers are located in this state. Heidmar is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut [See Exhibit 1], and Marida Tankers has offices in Stamford, Connecticut and/or Norwalk, Connecticut [See Exhibit 2; see also D.E. 26-2, p.11]. As such, the first factor is satisfied because Marida Marguerite has had ongoing contractual relationships with Connecticut entities dating all the way back to 2008. And these contracts expressly state that Heidmar is the “Agent” for Marida Marguerite, such that the evidence is clear that since 2008, Marida Marguerite has transacted business in Connecticut through its Agent Heidmar.

Second, evidence supports that the relevant contracts were negotiated and/or executed, at least in part, in Connecticut. Importantly, both contracts submitted by the Plaintiff, Exhibits 3 & 4, were executed John Edmondson. According to documentation available to the Plaintiffs in the public domain, John Edmondson was the Managing Director of Heidmar, and worked out of Heidmar’s corporate headquarters in Connecticut. See Exhibit 5. Furthermore, due to the fact that both Marida Tankers and Heidmar are located in this state, it is reasonable to conclude that the applicable charter and pool agreements between the Defendants were negotiated and/or executed in Connecticut. Construing the facts in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs and resolving all doubts in favor of the Plaintiffs, as instructed in Amerbelle, 272 F.Supp.2d at 192-3, this Honorable Court should find that this fact weighs in favor of maintaining personal jurisdiction over the Defendant Marida Marguerite.

Third, the pool agreement subjected Marida Marguerite and its vessel to supervision by a corporation located in Connecticut (Heidmar). The terms of the pool agreement make clear that Heidmar was responsible for the operation of the vessel, including supervision. [See section II of Exhibit 4]. Heidmar was also responsible for carrying out all communications with parties, including Marida Marguerite. [Id]. Therefore, another factor is satisfied because the contract called for supervision by a Connecticut-based entity.

Accordingly, Plaintiffs have succinctly made the required prima facie showing to establish that Defendant Marida Marguerite has transacted business within this state since 2008, by and through its ongoing contractual relationships with two Connecticut based entities, codefendants Marida Tankers and Heidmar.[5]

B.Maintaining personal jurisdiction over Marida Marguerite does not offend any due process principles.

The second part of the jurisdictional analysis requires the Court to determine whether its exercise of jurisdiction over Marida Marguerite would offend due process. Knipple, 674 A.2d, at 428-29. The due process test for personal jurisdiction has two related components: the “minimum contacts” inquiry and the “reasonableness” inquiry. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 567 (2d Cir. 1996). To have the requisite minimum contacts, a defendant must purposely avail itself of the privileges and immunities of the forum state such that it should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985). Second, the Court must inquire into whether the assertion of personal jurisdiction comports with “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice”; that is, whether it is reasonable under the circumstances of the particular case. See Int’l Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 316.

Herein, as set forth above, Marida Marguerite has transacted business in Connecticut since 2008. These purposeful business transactions undeniably availed Marida Marguerite of the benefits and protections of Connecticut law, and thereby, the Defendant should reasonably anticipate being haled into court here.

As to traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice, the Supreme Court established factors to be considered in this determination, which include: 1) the burden that the exercise of jurisdiction will impose on the defendant; 2) the interests of the forum state in adjudicating the case; 3) the plaintiff’s interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief; 4) the interstate judicial system’s interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of the controversy; and 5) the shared interest of the states in furthering substantive social policies. Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102, 113-14 (1987). All of these factors weigh in favor of finding that the assertion of personal jurisdiction offends no principles of due process.

First, with regard to the burden imposed on the Defendant, this Court has previously held that “[i]t usually will not be unfair to subject the defendant to the burdens of litigating in another state for disputes relating to his activities in such state.” Amerbelle, 272 F.Supp.2d at 196-97 (citing Burger King, 471 U.S. at 474, 105 S.Ct. 2174). This is precisely the case herein. The Court in Amerbelle went on to state:

In the present matter, litigation in Connecticut is not “so gravely difficult and inconvenient that a party unfairly is at a severe disadvantage in comparison to his opponent.” Id. at 478, 105 S.Ct. 2174. [Defendant] has not shown, nor are there factors present, that would make defending this action in Connecticut gravely and unfairly inconvenient. Therefore, this Court finds that subjecting [defendant] to jurisdiction in Connecticut does not offend due process. Emphasis added.

Herein, Marida Marguerite fails to provide any evidence that it will unfairly be at a disadvantage by litigating the action in Connection or that it will be gravely and unfairly inconvenient to do so. Even if Marida Marguerite had shown such evidence, “the conveniences of modern communication and transportation ease what would have been a serious burden only a few decades ago.” Metropolitan, 84 F.3d at 574.

Next, as to the interests of Connecticut in adjudicating this case, this factor also weighs heavily in favor of jurisdiction over Marida Marguerite. This is because two Connecticut-based entities are involved as co-defendants, who will likely be asserting contribution and/or indemnity rights. Pursuant to the relevant charter agreement, Marida Marguerite (as the shipowner) is required to indemnify the two entities located in Connecticut in certain situations. Thus, the state of Connecticut has an interest in protecting and obtaining the most efficient resolution of the controversy for its own resident corporations, Marida Tankers and Heidmar.

Next, as to the plaintiffs’ interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief, this factor warrants keeping jurisdiction over the Defendant. Both Plaintiffs are citizens and residents of India. They have no redress in their home countries, and are significantly benefited by the protections of U.S. law, such as the Jones Act. Stated simply, there is no more convenient or effective route to relief than to maintain jurisdiction over Marida Marguerite.

Next, as to the interstate judicial system’s interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of the controversy, it goes without saying that the most judicially efficient way to resolve this controversy is to maintain jurisdiction over Marida Marguerite, so that the parties can get to the merits of this action.

Lastly, as to the shared interest of the states in furthering substantive social policies, this is arguably the most critical factor as this matter implicates important policy considerations. First, the United States Supreme Court’s explicit policy directive is to treat alien shipowners (such as Marida Marguerite) the same as U.S. shipowners. See Hellenic Lines Ltd. v. Rhoditis, 398 U.S. 306, 310 (1970) (“We see no reason whatsoever to give the Jones Act a strained construction so that this alien owner, engaged in an extensive business operation in this country, may have an advantage over citizens engaged in the same business by allowing him to escape the obligations and responsibility of a Jones Act ‘employer.’”) (emphasis added). Second, Plaintiffs, as seafarers, are Wards of the Admiralty Courts, and have been since the dawn of the Republic. As the United States Supreme Court recently reaffirms the longstanding principle that seafarers are wards of the Admiralty Courts as a “feature of the maritime law compensating or offsetting the special hazards and disadvantages to which they who go down to sea in ships are subjected.” Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis, 515 U.S. 347, 355 (1995); see also Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 287 (1897); Bainbridge v. Merchants’ & Miners’ Transp. Co., 287 U.S. 278, 282 (1932); Aguilar v. Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, 318 U.S. 724, 728 (1943); U.S. Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles, 400 U.S. 351, 355 (1971). Accordingly, important policy considerations weigh strongly in favor of maintaining jurisdiction over the Defendant.

In sum, this Honorable Court should deny Defendant Marida Marguerite’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Marida Marguerite falls directly under Connecticut’s Long Arm statute by virtue of its longstanding business transactions with two Connecticut businesses. These same business transactions, since 2008, nullify any and any all due process concerns, as Marida Marguerite should have reasonably anticipated being haled into court in Connecticut. And all of the Asahi factor regarding traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice weigh heavily in favor of the Court maintaining jurisdiction over the moving Defendant.

III. MARIDA MARGUERITE’S ARGUMENTS REGARDING SERVICE OF PROCESS ARE DEVOID OF MERIT BOTH TECHNICALLY AND PRACTICALLY, AS MARIDA MARGUERITE HAS CERTAINLY BEEN GIVEN ADEQUATE NOTICE OF THE INSTANT ACTION.

Briefly, as to Defendant Marida Marguerite’s arguments regarding service of process, they are all baseless. The Plaintiffs have served and/or attempted to serve Marida Marguerite on multiple occasions, through multiple means, all in good faith. First, on July 9, 2012, State Marshal Robert S. Miller served Marida Marguerite through Heidmar as their agent. [D.E. 10].[6]

Second, on August 10, 2012 the Plaintiffs served Marida Marguerite directly to their address in Germany by registered mail, return receipt requested. [See Exhibit 6].

Third, the Plaintiffs attempted to serve Marida Marguerite through the Secretary of the State. However, Plaintiffs’ counsel was advised by telephone by the Secretary of the State that if they were not listed as Marida Marguerite’s registered agent, they would not accept service on their behalf.

These good faith efforts constitute valid service of process, which undeniably put Marida Marguerite on notice of the instant action.

Furthermore, said service of process by registered mail, return receipt requested, complies with Conn. Gen. Stat. § 33-929(b). That statute states, in relevant part, as follows:
(b) A foreign corporation may be served… by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the secretary of the foreign corporation… if the foreign corporation: (1) Has no registered agent or its registered agent cannot with reasonable diligence be served….

Herein, Marida Marguerite admits that it is not registered to do business in Connecticut [D.E. 18, p. 9] and, therefore, does not have a registered agent in the State of Connecticut. Accordingly, the Plaintiffs’ service of process by registered mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Secretary of Marida Marguerite, complied with Conn. Gen. Stat. § 33-929(b).

Next, as to Marida Marguerite’s argument that said service of process does not comply with the Hague Convention, this argument also fails because the Hague Convention expressly allows for service by postal channels. Article 10 subparagraph (a) of the Hague Convention states in relevant part: “the present Convention does not interfere with (a) the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to persons abroad…”[7]

Federal courts – including binding precedent from the Second Circuit – hold that Article 10(a) includes service of process by mail, reasoning that “send judicial documents” encompasses “service of process.” See Ackermann v. Levine, 788 F.2d 830, 838-40 (2nd Cir. 1986); Brockmeyer v. May, 383 F.3d 798, 802 (9th Cir. 2004); Research Systems Corp. v. IPSOS Publicite, 276 F.3d 914, 926 (7th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, consistent with this Court’s binding precedent construing Article 10(a) of the Hague Convention to permit service of process by mail, the Plaintiffs properly effected service of process upon Marida Marguerite. Stated simply, all of Marida Marguerite’s arguments regarding service of process are devoid of merit.[8]

IV.The Plaintiffs renewed Motion to conduct and complete their requested limited discovery.

It is plaintiffs’ position that they have adequately made a prima facie showing of jurisdiction such that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss should be denied. But in the event that this Honorable Court disagrees, then the Plaintiffs respectfully renew their motion to conduct and complete limited jurisdictional discovery in order to fully respond to the instant motion. To this end, the Plaintiffs expressly incorporate by reference the previous Motion to Conduct said discovery; D.E. 26 and all related filings. Put simply, Plaintiffs have not been given a full and fair opportunity to respond to the factual allegations made by the Defendant. As such, Plaintiffs renew their request for jurisdictional discovery to establish, inter alia, the extent of Marida Marguerite’s business contacts with Connecticut and/or the United States.[9]

WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the Plaintiffs respectfully request this Honorable Court deny Marida Marguerite’s Motion to Dismiss in its entirety. Alternatively, Plaintiff’s renew their request to conduct and complete jurisdictional discovery. In addition, the Plaintiffs respectfully request leave to amend the complaint; as well as any and all other relief this Court deems necessary and proper.

By: /s/ Michael A. Winkleman
Michael A. Winkleman
Bar No. 36719
Jason R. Margulies
Bar No. 57916
LIPCON, MARGULIES,
ALSINA & WINKLEMAN, P.A.
One Biscayne Tower, Suite 1776
2 South Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33131
Telephone: (305) 373-3016
Facsimile: (305) 373-6204
Pro Hac Vice Counsel

– and –

Kenneth Wynne Bohonnon
BOHONNON LAW FIRM, LLC
195 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510
Telephone: (203) 787-2151
Facsimile: (203) 773-1427
Email:
Local Counsel
Counsel for Plaintiffs


[1] Heidmar is one of the world’s leading commercial tanker operators with a fleet of over 120 double hull vessels. Heidmar established Marida Tankers to operate smaller tankers, including the subject vessel. [D.E. 26 and 26-2].

[2] Defendant Heidmar did respond to the discovery propounded by the Plaintiffs, but the only documents received were the contracts between Heidmar and Marida Marguerite, and Marida Tankers Inc. and Marida Marguerite. The remainder of said discovery responses were objections, which have not been addressed.

[3] Generally, a shipping pool is a group of merchant vessels that are grouped together for administrative purposes. Their earnings are pooled and distributed to the vessel owners according to a prearranged agreement.

[4] Although Wölbern Shipping GmbH is named as the owner of the subject vessel in the charter agreement, the parties signed an addendum which retroactively amended the contract to name Marida Marguerite as the owner of the vessel instead of Wölbern Shipping GmbH. [Ex 3, p. 24].

[5] In addition, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-59b(a)(1) requires that the plaintiffs’ cause of action arise out of the foreign defendant’s business transacted in the state. This requirement is also satisfied as all of plaintiffs’ causes of action arise directly out of the Defendant’s shipping related business transactions in Connecticut. Defendant makes much of the fact that the hijacking occurred off the coast of Somalia, but the location of the attack is of minor consequence when compared with the fact that most, if not all, of the business transactions / decisions which caused and/or contributed to the subject hijacking occurred, at least in part, in Connecticut.

[6] Heidmar moved to strike the Attestation of Service filed by Mr. Miller [D.E. 23]. The matter has been fully briefed. It is plaintiffs’ position that said motion is moot as Marida Marguerite has been properly served and has been given more than adequate notice of the instant action.

[7] Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, http://www.hcch.net/upload/conventions/txt14en.pdf (“the Hague Convention”).

[8] Nonetheless, in the unlikely event that this Honorable Court deems service of process insufficient, Plaintiffs request leave to re-serve Defendant. To this point, Plaintiffs repeated good faith efforts to serve the defendant constitute good cause to allow for additional efforts to complete service.

[9] Jurisdictional discovery would also be beneficial to show Marida Marguerite’s contacts with the United States as a whole for purposes of establishing jurisdiction under Rule 4(k)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically, failing the existence of personal jurisdiction under Connecticut’s long-arm statute, a non-resident defendant may be subject to the district court’s jurisdiction under the “national long-arm statute,” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2). See Dardana Ltd. v. Yuganskneftegaz, 317 F.3d 202, 207 (2d Cir. 2003).