Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Delaware Fantasy

The Delaware Chancery Court granted summary judgment in a long-simmering legal dispute

As we approach the eleven-year anniversary of the initiation of this action, Reid v. Siniscalchi has readily secured its place as a candidate for the Jarndyce award for interminable legal proceedings.  Given how long the Court and the parties have been at this, it is remarkable, to say the least, that we would just now be addressing a motion for summary judgment on the ground that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over necessary party defendants. And yet, after more than eight years of jurisdictional and merits discovery, it is now abundantly clear that the theory of personal jurisdiction asserted in Plaintiff’s various pleadings, and pressed successfully by Plaintiff in response to an early-stage Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss, is, in fact, a myth. That Plaintiff has managed to trade this myth as the truth for more than a decade is troubling.

Plaintiff’s claims arise from a single memorandum of agreement between U.S. Russian Telecommunications L.L.C. (“USRT”) and Finmeccanica, SpA (“FIN”), the provisions of which select English law and English arbitration for dispute resolution. Apparently perceiving that the parties’ choice of law and choice of forum/arbitration were no longer satisfactory, Plaintiff devised a fantasy Delaware based conspiracy among the Defendants and pled those facts in his verified complaint as a basis to argue that this Court could exercise personal jurisdiction over the non-resident defendants. With implicit assurances that the evidence would bear out his claim, he then convinced the Court, in his response to Defendants’ Rule 12(b)(2) motion, to follow him down a rabbit hole to a conspiracy “wonderland” where the Court and the parties have resided ever since. It is now time to return to reality.

(Mike Frisch)

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