Shapiro Arato Bach Wins Dismissal Motion on Jurisdictional & Venue Grounds

On October 27, 2020, Judge Virginia M. Kendall of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted Shapiro Arato Bach’s motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and/or improper venue filed on behalf of firm clients, The Orchard Enterprises, Independent Online Distribution Alliance, Inc., and MediaNet, Inc.

The plaintiff in the case is Anthony Martino, a professional singer-songwriter who resides in Illinois. Martino sued the out-of-state defendants in Illinois federal court for copyright infringement and conversion regarding the exploitation of sound recordings and musical compositions on two record albums and an assertion of a claim with Sound Exchange for performance royalties regarding certain of the album tracks.

Shapiro Arato Bach filed motions to dismiss on behalf of the defendants arguing that Martino failed to meet his burden to show that the defendants were subject to personal jurisdiction in the state of Illinois. Alternatively, the motions sought transfer to the Southern District of New York.

Agreeing with Shapiro Arato Bach on all fronts, the court held that Martino failed to demonstrate that any of the defendants were subject to either general or specific jurisdiction in the state. The court rejected Martino’s argument that general jurisdiction was established “merely because Defendants had an indirect relationship with two music stores or because indirect retailers sell Plaintiff’s music through websites.” It also concluded that specific jurisdiction could not hinge on (1) the defendants’ limited and indirect Illinois business contacts, including with two Illinois stores that allegedly received Martino’s music from MediaNet; (2) the defendants’ alleged knowledge of Martino’s residency and place of injury; or (3) the intrastate operation of defendants’ websites.

In the interests of justice, the court transferred the case to the Southern District of New York, which the defendants agreed was the proper venue.

The motions to dismiss and reply papers filed by Shapiro Arato Bach can be read here, here, and here.

The decision can be found here.