United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Elisha N. Hawk, Esq., Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC, counsel for Plaintiff.
Paul A. Sortland, Esq., Sortland Law Office, counsel for Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendants Shawn Khorrami's ("Khorrami") and Khorrami, Boucher, Sumner, Sanguinetti, LLP's (formerly known as Khorrami, Pollard & Abir, LLP) ("Khorrami Law") (collectively "Defendants") motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 32.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Defendants' motion.
Plaintiff Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC ("Plaintiff") is a law firm based in Maryland. (Doc. No. 42, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5.) At the time of the interactions underlying this lawsuit, Plaintiff had at least one attorney at its firm licensed to practice law in Minnesota. ( Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff brought suit against Khorrami and Khorrami Law in this Court on June 28, 2013. ( See generally Doc. No. 1, Compl.) Khorrami Law is based in California, and Khorrami is a partner with Khorrami Law. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2-4.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants sought Plaintiff to assist them in filing a number of cases in federal court in the District of Minnesota. ( Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) Defendants represented fifty-three women with claims relating to injuries developed as a result of using certain hormone therapy. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants wished to file their lawsuits in Minnesota based on the state's favorable statute of limitations. ( Id. )
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Khorrami contacted Plaintiff by phone through one of Plaintiff's principals Robert K. Jenner ("Jenner"). ( Id. ¶¶ 10-12.) Plaintiff alleges that at that time, Khorrami and Jenner agreed on work and fee arrangements which included a five percent local counsel fee. ( Id. ¶¶ 10-14.) Plaintiff alleges that Jenner sent an e-mail which included this fee and some of Plaintiff's responsibilities, and also attached a draft complaint for Defendants' use and Defendants confirmed receipt. ( Id. )
Plaintiff alleges that it drafted and provided the complaint, which Defendants used, and then filed the fifty-three cases in June 2008 through one of its attorneys who was licensed to practice law in Minnesota. ( Id. ¶ 15.) Ultimately, the cases were transferred to a Multi-District Litigation ("MDL") court in Arkansas. Plaintiff alleges that it continued to monitor the case docket. ( Id. ¶ 16.)
Plaintiff alleges that on or about 2011, Defendants negotiated and finalized settlement for the cases, but did not inform Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) As a result of the settlement, Defendants have made distributions to their clients and themselves. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that it contacted Defendants on multiple occasions about honoring the agreement regarding local counsel fees, and Defendants have not paid. ( Id. ¶ 18.)
In its Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts the following claims: (1) breach of contract; (2) unjust enrichment; and (3) quantum meruit. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-38.) In its motion to dismiss, Defendants seek dismissal on two grounds. (Doc. No. 32.) First, Defendants argue that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants because they, and Plaintiff, are not in Minnesota and did not avail themselves of the privileges of the forum state in any way. (Doc. No. 33, Def. Br. at 5-9.) Second, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because the underlying fee-splitting agreement is unenforceable for violating public policy. ( Id. ¶¶ 9-11.) Plaintiff disagrees with both of Defendants' arguments, and argues that this Court has jurisdiction because Defendants availed themselves of the privileges of the forum state when they sought the benefits of pursuing legal claims in Minnesota and that they have sufficiently stated a cause of action based on the oral and written contracts alleged in detail in the complaint. ( See generally Doc. No. 39, Pl. Br. at 1-11.)
I. Fed.R.Civ.P. ...