Gold v. Gold et al
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Judge James K. Bredar on 9/28/2017. (jnls, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
SCOTT GOLD, et al.,
CIVIL NO. JKB-17-0483
This case stems from an allegedly improper sale of a motor vessel in Maryland that took
place in 2016. Plaintiff Joel Gold claims that Defendants Scott Gold and Doris Gold conspired
to sell a boat that Scott Gold owned in order to hide assets properly due to Plaintiff after Plaintiff
won an award against Defendants in a New Jersey state court. (First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6, ECF
No. 28.) Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants in early 2017 in state court in
Maryland and Defendants removed the case to this Court in February 2017. After Doris Gold
successfully moved to dismiss (see Order Granting Motion of Defendant Doris Gold to Dismiss
for Lack of Jurisdiction, ECF No. 21), Plaintiff amended his complaint (ECF No. 28). Doris
Gold has again moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction (ECF No. 32) and now
Defendant Scott Gold has also so moved (ECF No. 39). All parties have had adequate
opportunity to respond and the issues are fully briefed. No hearing is necessary to resolve the
matter. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Because Plaintiff has not presented facts or law
sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction, both Defendants‟ motions will be granted by
The following facts are taken from Plaintiff‟s First Amended Complaint.1 Plaintiff, a
resident of New Jersey, secured a judgment against Scott Gold in New Jersey state court on
December 4, 2015, in the amount of $282,279.49. (First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4.) Scott Gold is a
resident of New Jersey or Florida, and his mother, Doris Gold, is a resident of Florida. (Id. ¶¶ 23.) Scott Gold had purchased the “Rehoboth Star,” a motor vessel, on June 6, 2014. (Id. ¶ 6.)
This boat was “eventually” docked in, and operated from, West Ocean City, Maryland. (Id.)
Scott Gold sold the vessel “shortly after” Plaintiff won his judgment. (Id.) Scott Gold “hastily
arranged” this sale in order to keep the proceeds of the sale from Plaintiff, and instead the
proceeds were distributed to other creditors of Scott Gold as well as to Doris Gold, Scott‟s
mother and a co-defendant in this action. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) Plaintiff claims that these actions
constitute a violation of the Maryland Fraudulent Conveyance Act (id. ¶¶ 12, 16-21) as well as a
civil conspiracy to harm Plaintiff (id. ¶¶ 23-25). Defendants claim, separately, that, because
they are not residents of Maryland nor do they have sufficient contact with Maryland, this Court
lacks jurisdiction over them. (See Def. Doris Gold Mot. Dismiss Mem. Op., ECF No. 32-1; Def.
Scott Gold Mot. Dismiss Mem. Op., ECF No. 39-1.)
Standard of Review
A motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) is a test of the Court‟s personal
jurisdiction over the defendant. “[W]hen, as here, the court addresses the question [of personal
jurisdiction] on the basis only of motion papers, supporting legal memoranda and the relevant
allegations of a complaint, the burden on the plaintiff is simply to make a prima facie showing of
“In deciding whether the plaintiff has proved a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction, the district court must
draw all reasonable inferences arising from the proof, and resolve all factual disputes, in the plaintiff's favor.” Mylan
Labs., Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 60 (4th Cir. 1993).
a sufficient jurisdictional basis to survive the jurisdictional challenge.” New Wellington Fin.
Corp. v. Flagship Resort Dev. Corp., 416 F.3d 290, 294 (4th Cir. 2005).
A Federal Court looks to the law of the state in which it is located to determine whether it
is proper to exercise personal jurisdiction. See Tulkoff Food Prods., Inc. v. Martin, Civ. No.
ELH-17-350, 2017 WL 2909250 at *4 (D. Md. July 7, 2017) (citing Carefirst of Maryland, Inc.
v. Carefirst Pregnancy Centers, Inc., 334 F.3d 390, 396 (4th Cir. 2003)). In Maryland, two
conditions must be satisfied before a court can exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident
defendant: “(1) the exercise of jurisdiction must be authorized under the state‟s long-arm statute;
and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with the due process requirements of the
Fourteenth Amendment.” Carefirst, 334 F.3d at 396.
The Court of Appeals of Maryland has made clear that the “purview of the long arm
statute is coextensive with the limits of personal jurisdiction set by the due process clause of the
Federal Constitution.” Beyond Sys., Inc. v. Realtime Gaming Holding Co., LLC, 878 A.2d 567,
576 (Md. 2005). Similar state court interpretations of similar long-arm statutes have led the
Fourth Circuit to explain that, when it comes to determining the propriety of personal
jurisdiction, “the statutory inquiry merges with the constitutional inquiry.” Consulting Engineers
Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 277 (4th Cir. 2009) (discussing the Virginia long-arm
statute and its interpretation by Virginia courts). In Maryland however, that does not mean that
there is no statutory inquiry aside from the inquiry into due process. See Mackey v. Compass
Marketing, Inc., 892 A.2d 479, 493 n.6 (Md. 2006). To exercise personal jurisdiction over a
non-resident defendant, the defendant‟s conduct must fall under a provision of the Maryland
long-arm statute, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 6-103. See id. (noting that Beyond Sys.
“did not . . . mean . . . that it is now permissible to simply dispense with analysis under the longarm statute.”). A court should interpret that statute “to the limits permitted by the Due Process
clause when [it] can do so consistently with the canons of statutory construction,” id., but that
does not mean a plaintiff is free to ignore the fact that jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant
is only proper when that defendant‟s actions are covered by the Maryland long-arm statute. See
Aphena Pharma Solutions-Maryland LLC v. BioZone Labs., Inc., 912 F. Supp. 2d 309, 315 (D.
Md. 2012). In fact, a plaintiff needs to point the Court in the direction of a “specific provision
[of the Maryland long-arm statute] authorizing personal jurisdiction.” Id.
The Plaintiff here has failed to sufficiently identify which provision of the Maryland
long-arm statute covers the Defendants‟ alleged conduct. Complaints do not need to follow a
specific pattern or format, and the Court does not require “talismanic jurisdictional formulas,”
Burger King v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 485 (1985), but, as a matter of good practice, at some
point a complaint should address the grounds upon which jurisdiction over the subject matter of
the case and the person of the defendant is proper. Plaintiff‟s amended complaint does not even
contain the word “jurisdiction,” let alone point to a specific provision of Maryland‟s long-arm
statute that covers the Defendants‟ conduct at issue. Plaintiff could likely survive a motion to
dismiss while failing to allege in his complaint the precise grounds upon which the Court can
exercise personal jurisdiction,2 but Plaintiff cannot survive these motions without ever
identifying a specifically applicable provision of the Maryland long-arm statute, at least when it
is not otherwise apparent to the Court which provision applies. See Gibbs v. Cty. of Delaware,
Civ. No. RWT 15-1012, 2015 WL 6150939 *2 (D. Md. Oct. 15, 2015) (“[A] plaintiff is required
to identify a specific provision within the Maryland long-arm statute which authorizes personal
See Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, 5 Fed. Prac. & Pro. Civ. § 1206 (3d ed.) (contending that construing
Rule 8(a)(1) as “requiring the complaint to state the grounds for personal jurisdiction [is] an erroneous interpretation
that contravenes decades of jurisprudence.”).
jurisdiction.”) For example, in AP Links, LLC v. Global Golf, Inc., Civ. No. CCB-08-705, 2008
WL 4225764 (D. Md. Sept. 2, 2008), the plaintiff “did not cite a specific provision of the longarm statute in its complaint,” but it did “appear to rely on [various provisions of the long-arm
statute]” in its opposition to the defendant‟s motion to dismiss, and that was sufficient for the
court to proceed to its jurisdictional analysis. 2008 WL 4225764 at *3.
Here the Plaintiff has not provided the Court with such necessary guidance. Nowhere in
Plaintiff‟s amended complaint, his reply to Defendant Doris Gold‟s Motion to Dismiss, or his
reply to Defendant Scott Gold‟s Motion to Dismiss does Plaintiff even suggest a provision, either
by section number or substance, of the Maryland long-arm statute that covers either Defendants‟
conduct. More importantly, it is not apparent to the Court which provision of the long-arm
statute Plaintiff is relying on, if any. Perhaps Plaintiff assumes that Scott Gold “transact[ed] . . .
business” in Maryland and that justifies exercising jurisdiction over the Defendants. Md. Code
Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 6-103(b)(1). But see Aphena Pharma Solutions, 912 F. Supp. 2d at 315
(quoting Music Makers Holdings, LLC v. Sarro, Civ. No. RWT-09-1836, 2010 WL 2807805 *4
(D. Md. July 5, 2010) (“Maryland courts have construed the phrase „transacting business‟
narrowly, requiring, for example, significant negotiations or intentional advertising and selling in
the forum state.”). Perhaps Plaintiff assumes that Defendants “caus[ed] tortious injury in the
State,” Md. Code Ann., Ct. & Jud. Proc § 6-103(b)(3), but the harm seems to be directed at
Plaintiff, a non-resident. Or perhaps Plaintiff assumes jurisdiction is proper simply because
Plaintiff owned property in the state. See Md. Code Ann., Ct. & Jud. Proc § 6-103(5).
Regardless, it is simply not the job of this Court to guess at Plaintiff‟s assumptions.3
The Court did not reach this issue in its earlier memorandum and order because it did not need to do so. (See
Mem. Op., ECF No. 20.) The Court was then confronted with the question of whether jurisdiction over Doris Gold
was proper under the theory of “conspiracy jurisdiction.” (Id. at 3.) The Court found that Plaintiff failed to establish
the second element necessary for conspiracy jurisdiction and therefore “it need not decide whether Plaintiff has met
It may not be proper under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to force
the Defendants to litigate this action in Maryland on the grounds of a single transaction in this
state, but the Court does not need to decide this close question. It is well-settled law that
personal jurisdiction in Maryland has two requirements: compliance with the Maryland longarm statute and compliance with the Federal Constitution. See Carefirst, 334 F.3d at 396. These
are “dual considerations,” Beyond Sys., 878 A.2d at 575, and both must be apparent from the
pleadings and arguments presented by a plaintiff or specifically addressed. See Cleaning
Authority, Inc. v. Neubert, 739 F. Supp. 2d 807, 812 n.7 (D. Md. 2010). It is not apparent to the
Court which provision of Maryland‟s long-arm statute applies here (if any), Plaintiff has failed to
address the Maryland long-arm statute at all, and therefore the Defendants‟ motions to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction will be granted.
Defendants‟ conduct does not clearly fall under any one or more provisions of the
Maryland long-arm statute, and Plaintiff failed to specify any such provision. Therefore,
Defendant Doris Gold‟s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 32) and Defendant Scott Gold‟s Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 39) will be granted by accompanying order.
DATED this 28th day of September, 2017
BY THE COURT:
James K. Bredar
United States District Judge
his burden under element four of the conspiracy theory of personal jurisdiction (i.e., whether Plaintiff has alleged
that Scott Gold‟s conduct met either the in-state tort or the in-state business transaction prong of Maryland‟s longarm statute).” (Id. at 6-7.)
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