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Halper v. Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 19, 2017

MARK HALPER, Plaintiff,
v.
SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          Steech, Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction and Background

         This matter is before the Court upon a Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Defendants Stellar Songs Limited (“Stellar”), Salli Isaak Songs Limited (“Salli”), and Method Records Live LTD (“Method”) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). Docket No. 55. Defendants Stellar, Salli, and Method have contemporaneously filed a supporting Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 56), as well as the Declarations of James Sully (Docket No. 52), Timothy Major (Docket No. 53), and Richard Baskind (Docket No. 54). As grounds for their Motion, Defendants Stellar, Salli, and Method argue that they are limited liability companies established under the laws of the United Kingdom, whose principal places of business are in London, England. Docket No. 56. They maintain that they have no offices in Tennessee, no employees in Tennessee, no license to do business in Tennessee, and do not manufacture, distribute, license, or sell any products in Tennessee, such that they are not subject to general jurisdiction since they are not “at home” in Tennessee, nor are they subject to specific personal jurisdiction since they have not “purposefully availed” themselves of the privilege of doing business in Tennessee. Id. Accordingly, Defendants Stellar, Salli, and Method that Plaintiff's claims against them should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         Plaintiff has not responded to the instant Motion.

         Plaintiff filed this pro se action against Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, EMI April Music Inc., Gone Gator Music, Universal-Polygram International Tunes, Inc., Sony/ATV Songs LLC, Stellar Songs Ltd., Method Paperwork Ltd., Salli Isaak Songs Ltd., Method Records Live Ltd., Capitol Records Ltd., and UMG Recordings, alleging copyright infringement by Sam Smith's song “Stay With Me.” Docket No. 1.[1]

         For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned finds that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants Stellar, Salli, and Method. Accordingly, the undersigned recommends that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED, that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Stellar, Salli, and Method be DISMISSED, and that Defendants Stellar, Salli, and Method be TERMINATED as parties to this action.

         II. Law and Analysis

         Because a court cannot decide a cause of action for which it lacks jurisdiction, the primary issue before the undersigned is whether the Court has jurisdiction over the instant Defendants, and therefore over Plaintiff's claims against them in this action. Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction over Defendants. See, e.g., Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 615 (6th Cir. 2006).

         With regard to the issue of jurisdiction, the instant Defendants have submitted the Declarations of James Sully, Timothy Major, and Richard Baskind. Docket Nos. 52-54. The jurisdictional facts are set forth below.

         A. Declaration of James Sully

         Method is a limited liability company established under the laws of England and Wales, whose principal place of business is in London, England. Docket No. 52, ¶ 3. The summons issued for “Method Records Ltd.” in this action was served at Flat 16 Burke House, Dalston Square, London E8 3GW. Id., ¶ 6. Method, however, moved out of that location several years ago. Id. Further, there is no company called “Method Records Ltd.” Id. As a result, Method did not receive timely notice of this action. Id.

         Method does not own property in Tennessee; has no offices in Tennessee; has no license to do business in Tennessee; and does not manufacture, distribute, license, or sell any products in Tennessee. Id., ¶ 5.

         Method owns no interest in the musical composition or sound recording of “Stay ...


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