278 F.3d 409 (4th Cir. 2002), 00-2540, Foster v. Arletty 3 Sarl

Docket Nº:00-2540
Citation:278 F.3d 409
Party Name:BRUCE M. FOSTER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ARLETTY 3 SARL; PATRICK ABADIE, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:January 25, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 409

278 F.3d 409 (4th Cir. 2002)

BRUCE M. FOSTER, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

ARLETTY 3 SARL; PATRICK ABADIE, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 00-2540

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

January 25, 2002

Argued: October 30, 2001

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Greenville. Henry M. Herlong, Jr., District Judge. (CA-99-2961-6-20)

Before WILKINSON, Chief Judge, MOTZ, Circuit Judge, and Malcolm J. HOWARD, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina, sitting by designation.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge Howard wrote the opinion, in which Chief Judge Wilkinson and Judge Motz joined.

Page 410

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 411

COUNSEL ARGUED: Frank Langston Eppes, EPPES & PLUMBLEE, P.A., Greenville, South Carolina, for Appellant. William Stevens Brown, V, NELSON, MULLINS, RILEY & SCARBOROUGH, L.L.P., Greenville, South Carolina, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Lawrence W. Newman, Rafael E. Castilla, BAKER & MCKENZIE, New York, New York, for Appellant. Rivers S. Stilwell, NELSON, MULLINS, RILEY & SCARBOROUGH, L.L.P., Greenville, South Carolina; Peter F. Felfe, Leon Medzhibovsky, FULBRIGHT & JAWORSKI, L.L.P., New York, New York, for Appellees.

Page 412

OPINION

HOWARD, District Judge:

Plaintiff-appellant Bruce Foster challenges the district court's determination that the French company with which Foster contracted did not have sufficient contacts with South Carolina to support the assertion of personal jurisdiction over this company and one of its officers. Because the exercise of jurisdiction over these appellees does not comport with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice," International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)), we affirm the district court's holding.

I.

Bruce Foster, a dual citizen of the United States and France residing in Greenville, South Carolina, entered into a series of business transactions with a variety of French companies.1 These transactions included several contracts designed to allow the French companies to obtain licenses for entertainment programs they hoped to promote over the internet. Foster, as a dual citizen, served as the French companies' contact in the United States and helped secure the rights to the licenses. The contract at the heart of this dispute was negotiated, drafted, and executed in France and called for Foster to obtain the license in exchange for a fee based on the gross revenues of the companies' use of those licenses. Foster eventually obtained the licenses in the name of two French companies partially owned by Foster, Sierra Madre and BSF. The appellees, Arletty 3 S.A.R.L. ("Arletty"), a French corporation, and Abadie, an officer of Arletty, assert a right to the programs covered by the licenses.

The gravamen of the dispute concerns Foster's contractual entitlement to fees. Foster contends that he is entitled to continuing fees for his work in obtaining the licenses. Appellees counter that Foster has been paid all that he is owed and that any rights Sierra Madre and BSF had to the licenses were voided on December 19, 1995, when a French court ordered the liquidation of Sierra Madre and BSF. After this liquidation and the subsequent French bankruptcy of Sierra Madre and BSF, appellees renegotiated rights to the licenses. As a result of this renegotiation and the voidance of Sierra Madre and BSF's rights, appellees assert that Foster is not entitled to continuing fees.

On September 1, 1999, Foster filed suit against Arletty and Abadie in United States District Court in Greenville, South Carolina, alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment.2 Arletty and Abadie Page 413

were served copies of the summons and complaint in both French and English pursuant to the Hague Convention. When appellees did not answer the complaint, the district court clerk filed an entry of default on January 18, 2000. Thereafter, the district court granted Foster's motion for a default judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55.

Foster then filed an action to enforce the judgment in France. Arletty and Abadie appeared in a French court on July 4, 2000, attacking both the jurisdiction of the district court and the underlying merits of the claim. On August 10, 2000, Arletty and Abadie...

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