Success Systems Inc. v. Lynn
Connecticut's long-arm statute, Connecticut General Statutes §52-59b(a)(1), confers jurisdiction only if the cause of action arises out of the transaction of business within the State of Connecticut. The plaintiff, Success Systems Inc., sued its former sales representative, Tammerica Lynn, alleging that after she signed a covenant not to compete, she used its proprietary information to solicit the plaintiff's customers on behalf of the defendant, Antoine Karam, and his company, AGKSoft Inc. Both the plaintiff, Success Systems, and Karam are in the business of designing computer software for convenience stores. Tammerica Lynn's sales territory was in the southeastern United States. Defendants Lynn and Karam did not file an appearance, and a court granted default judgments of $33,751 for loss of profits, $67,502 for punitive damages and $21,917 for attorneys' fees. Karam moved to vacate the default judgment and argued that the court lacked personal jurisdiction. A default judgment is void, if the court that issued the judgment lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant. To establish personal jurisdiction under Connecticut General Statutes §52-59b(a)(1), a plaintiff must allege a cause of action that arises from the defendant's transaction of business in the State of Connecticut. The plaintiff's complaint discussed customers located in South Carolina and West Virginia. The default judgment was based on accounts in those locations. The plaintiff failed to establish Karam solicited any business in Connecticut, as a result of his association with Tammerica Lynn. There was no evidence that defendant Karam's Connecticut accounts appeared on any customer list that allegedly was misappropriated. "Even when viewed in a manner most favorable to the plaintiff," wrote the court, "the record does not disclose a colorable basis for exercising personal jurisdiction over Karam under Connecticut's long-arm statute." The District Court granted Karam's motion to vacate the default judgment.