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A Northern District of New York federal judge is considering whether the long arm of New York law extends overseas to Italy. Chief Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. said in a recent decision that he cannot decide the matter without a thorough examination of a foreign corporation’s financial statements, and particularly, the extent to which those statements reflect sales outside Italy. However, he said that if the case can continue, it will continue in the United States, and not Italy. Traver v. Officine Meccaniche Toshci SpA, 1:02-CV-214, is a $60 million lawsuit against an Italian firm that claims New York lacks jurisdiction and that the dispute should be resolved in an Italian court. It began on March 30, 1999, when Lawrence G. Traver Sr., an employee of American Tissue Corp. in Greenwich, N.Y., was injured when his hand became trapped in a rewinder. The rewinder was designed, manufactured and distributed by an Italian corporation. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction and under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a concept born in 19th-century Scotland and nurtured through two centuries of American jurisprudence. Forum non conveniens — Latin for “inconvenient forum” — allows a judge to transfer a case to another location upon an adequate showing of inconvenience. On the jurisdictional issue, Traver said New York’s long-arm statute (CPLR � 302) provides the federal court with personal jurisdiction. The statute allows a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-domiciliary under certain circumstances, including when a tortious act is committed or when business is transacted to supply goods or services in the state. Here, the defendant contends that it did not transact any business in New York, and notes that it initially shipped the rewinder to Canada and had no knowledge that American Tissue Corp. planned to use it at its Greenwich facility. Judge Scullin said the record lacks factual information regarding the company’s acts in New York. He denied without prejudice the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and ordered the Italian company to turn over a variety of documents, in both English and Italian, so the question can be resolved. As a related matter, the defendant argued that the proper forum for the litigation is an Italian court. Traver countered that Italy is an inadequate forum, but Judge Scullin said there is no evidence to support that contention, and held that Italy is an adequate alternative forum for the litigation. However, in applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens, Scullin said the defendant cannot establish that litigating the case in New York would constitute an unreasonable inconvenience for the defense. “While not discounting the fact that it would be inconvenient for defendant’s agents and employees to travel to New York, the fact that defendant apparently does business all over the world weighs against finding this would be an undue burden on defendant,” Scullin said. “Moreover, plaintiff is an individual who does not do business around the world, and, thus, it would be more inconvenient for him to travel to Italy.” Appearing were Steven Connelly and Kyran D. Nigro of Cade & Saunders in Albany, N.Y., for the plaintiff; and Lisa Rolle and George Hodges of Boeggeman, George, Hodges & Corde in Albany for the defendant.

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