United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar Chief Judge
Joel Gold brought this action against Defendants Scott Gold
and Doris Gold in state court in Maryland on December 21,
2016. (See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.) The case
was removed to this Court, and since then the Court has twice
dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction on
motions from the Defendants. (See Mems., ECF Nos.
20, 50.) Before the Court is the third round of such motions:
a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction by
Doris (ECF No. 65) and the same by Scott (ECF No. 68). These
motions are fully briefed, ripe and ready for review. There
is no need to hold a hearing to resolve the matter.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will transfer the case to the
Southern District of Florida.
a resident of New Jersey, obtained a money judgment against
his estranged son Scott Gold, a Florida resident, in New
Jersey State Court on December 4, 2015. (Second Am. Compl.
¶¶ 1, 3-4, ECF No. 59.) “Shortly after”
Plaintiff obtained this money judgment, Scott sold a marine
vessel, in order to hide assets from his father.
(Id. ¶ 8.) Scott had purchased the vessel, the
“Rehoboth Star, ” the previous year, on June 6,
2014. (Id. ¶ 6.) The vessel was
“eventually” kept in West Ocean City, Maryland.
(Id.) It was there when the vessel was sold, and the
sale took place in Maryland. (Id. ¶ 8.)
Plaintiff does not allege that Scott has ever set foot in
does Plaintiff allege that his ex-wife, Defendant Doris Gold
has been to Maryland. Plaintiff does allege, however,
“upon information and belief, ” that Doris knew
Scott was going to sell the Rehoboth Star in order to hide
assets from her ex-husband, and knew Scott was going to sell
the vessel in Maryland. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) She
received a portion of the proceeds from the sale, in the form
of eight checks under $10, 000, totaling $70, 000 in all.
(Id. ¶ 11.) The checks she received were
“issued in Maryland from a Maryland bank, and sent from
Maryland.” (Id.; see Checks, Second
Am. Compl. Ex. B, ECF No. 59-2.)
December 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Doris
and Scott in Maryland state court, asserting two state law
causes of action: violation of Maryland's Fraudulent
Conveyance statute, and civil conspiracy. (See
Compl., ECF No. 2.) Doris removed the case to this Court on
the basis of diversity of citizenship on February 17, 2017,
and then moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
(See Notice of Removal; Doris Gold First Mot.
Dismiss, ECF No. 10.)
15, 2017, the Court granted Doris's motion. (See
First Mem., ECF No. 20.) The Court held that Plaintiff had
not alleged sufficient facts to establish personal
jurisdiction over Doris under a theory of conspiracy
jurisdiction. Plaintiff had not alleged that Doris had
knowledge, prior to Scott selling the vessel, of the scheme
to hide assets and, crucially, that the scheme would involve
the State of Maryland. Plaintiff amended his complaint
(see First Am. Compl., ECF No. 28), and in response
Doris again moved to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction (see ECF No. 32). Scott moved to
dismiss on the same grounds. (See ECF No. 39.)
September 28, 2017, the Court granted both Defendants'
motions to dismiss. (See Second Mem., ECF No. 50.)
Plaintiff had failed to allege, or clearly identify, a
provision of the Maryland long-arm statute that would
authorize the exercise of personal jurisdiction over either
Defendant, and so the case was dismissed for lack of personal
jurisdiction. Plaintiff did not, at first, amend his
complaint to cure this deficiency. Instead, he appealed to
the United State Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, who
found that “[b]ecause [Plaintiff] may be able to remedy
the deficiency identified by the district court by filing an
amended complaint . . . the order [Plaintiff] seeks to appeal
is neither a final order nor an appealable interlocutory or
collateral order.” Gold v. Gold, No. 17-2270,
2018 WL 2046107, at *1 (4th Cir. Jan 18, 2018). The court
accordingly “dismiss[ed] the appeal for lack of
jurisdiction and remand[ed] the case to the district court
with instructions to allow [Plaintiff] to amend his
Court followed those instructions, and granted Plaintiff
leave to amend his complaint a second time. (See
Order Reopening Case, ECF No. 58.) Plaintiff filed his second
amended complaint on March 16, 2018. Both Doris and Scott
have again moved to dismiss this complaint for lack of
personal jurisdiction. (See Doris Gold Second Mot.
Dismiss, ECF No. 65; Scott Gold Second Mot. Dismiss, ECF No.
68.) Plaintiff responded in opposition to both motions (ECF
No. 71) and Doris replied on June 4, 2018 (ECF No. 74). The
time for Scott to reply has passed, and therefore both
Defendants' motions are ripe for review, and the Court
will turn to their disposition.
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
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 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)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Court will first discuss whether it may exercise personal
jurisdiction over Scott and Doris and then why, considering
the closeness of that question, it will transfer the case to
the Southern District of Florida, where jurisdiction over the
Defendants is more clearly proper.