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A New York judge has ruled that her court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction in a fee collection suit brought by a New York law firm against a South Korean company which retained the firm through representatives and via e-mail. Chadbourne & Parke sued Remote Solutions Co. Ltd., a South Korean manufacturer of remote controls, last year for an unpaid bill of $116,969. The firm briefly represented the company in a 2003 patent infringement suit filed in federal court in Delaware by the Philips electronics company. Chadbourne & Parke had argued that the company’s hiring of the firm and subsequent communications via telephone and e-mails provided sufficient contacts for New York courts to exercise jurisdiction under the state’s long-arm statute. But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead said such communications did not show the company transacted business in the state as required by the long-arm statute. “A foreign corporation’s retention of a major law firm, headquartered in New York, for the purpose of representing it in defense of an action pending in another state, without anything more except alleged e-mail and telephone contacts, is plainly insufficient to subject the client to jurisdiction in New York,” Edmead wrote in Chadbourne & Parke v. Remote Solutions, 603037/04. The judge noted that Chadbourne had actually been retained through a lawyer in its Washington, D.C., office. That lawyer was retained through e-mail correspondence by one of Remote’s Korean law firms. Edmead wrote that, along with the location of the underlying case in Delaware, the failure of Remote to even visit New York to hire Chadbourne & Parke distinguished the case from the Appellate Division, 1st Department’s decision in Otterbourg, Steindler, Houston & Rosen v. Shreve City Apartments, 147 A.D.2d 327. In that case, the appellate court wrote that an out-of-state client that hired a New York firm to represent it in a New York lawsuit had shown “engagement in purposeful activity” in the state sufficient for the courts to exercise jurisdiction. “The fact that lawyers located in Chadbourne’s New York office performed legal services for the Korean client defending a suit in Delaware is insufficient to find that the client transacted any business in the State of New York in relation to the claim,” the judge wrote. Chadbourne & Parke had actually been retained by Remote to seek dismissal of the Delaware patent case on jurisdiction grounds. The Delaware court, however, ruled that sufficient contacts with the company existed because its products had been distributed in the state. That court also cited a manufacturing and purchasing agreement between Remote and a New York company called Contec, which had agreed to defend the South Korean company in any litigation arising from their agreement. But Edmead said that contract had no bearing on Chadbourne & Parke’s suit, adding that Remote’s contract with Contec “could not result in a finding that Remote subjected itself to New York jurisdiction by virtue of Contec’s presence in New York.” Thomas Hall, the Chadbourne & Parke partner who represented the firm in the fee collection suit, said the firm would re-file its suit in Delaware. Remote was represented by Sherri Eisenpress of Reiss, Eisenpress & Eisenberg.

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