fischbarg v doucet 09 - 1 Fischbarg v. Doucet 9 N.Y.3d 375...

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1 Fischbarg v. Doucet 9 N.Y.3d 375 (2007) New York Court of Appeals Ciparick, J. In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether Supreme Court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over defendants, an individual and corporation, both residents of California, who retained a New York attorney to represent the corporation in an action brought in an Oregon federal court. Because we conclude that defendants' retention and subsequent communications with plaintiff in New York established a continuing attorney-client relationship in this state and thereby constitute the transaction of business under CPLR 302 (a)(1), we hold that the exercise of jurisdiction was proper. I. In February 2001, defendant Suzanne Bell-Doucet, a California resident and president of defendant Only New Age Music, Inc. (ONAM), a California corporation, placed a telephone call to plaintiff, attorney Gabriel Fischbarg, a member of the New York bar, at his New York office. During the ensuing conversation, the parties discussed plaintiff's potential representation of ONAM in a lawsuit alleging breach of contract, fraud and copyright infringement claims against Allegro Corp., a nonparty Oregon corporation. On February 23, Ms. Bell- Doucet sent a letter to plaintiff’s New York office to confirm that he “offered to take this case on a one-third contingency” and that she would pay him a $2,000 deposit “against expenses.” Enclosed with the February 23 letter were “contracts, copyrighted material, an outline of events, and copies of correspondence” for plaintiff's review. According to plaintiff, after receiving these materials, he entered into a retainer agreement with defendants by telephone from his New York office. On May 30, 2001, Allegro filed suit against ONAM in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. Although plaintiff was admitted to that court during the course of the Oregon action, he was never physically present in Oregon. Nor did he ever meet with plaintiffs in California. Instead, plaintiff conducted his work pertaining to the Oregon action – allegedly 238.4 hours worth – from New York. He appeared at depositions and court conferences, and argued a motion for summary judgment via telephone from New York. In addition, defendants repeatedly communicated with plaintiff in New York. According to plaintiff, over the course of approximately nine months during his representation of ONAM in the Oregon action, he spoke with defendants by telephone at least twice per week regarding their case. Plaintiffs time records also show that on at least 31 occasions defendants sent e-mails regarding the Oregon case to plaintiff, that on three occasions they faxed materials to him, and that defendants sent plaintiff documents, by either mail or e-mail, seven times. On January 15, 2002, a dispute regarding the terms of plaintiff's retainer agreement arose. That same
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This note was uploaded on 08/12/2010 for the course AEM 3200 at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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fischbarg v doucet 09 - 1 Fischbarg v. Doucet 9 N.Y.3d 375...

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