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Ex parte International Creative Management Partners, LLC

Supreme Court of Alabama

February 2, 2018

Ex parte International Creative Management Partners, LLC, d/b/a ICM Partners
v.
The Club at 219 Dauphin, Inc., et al. In re: Jordan Taylor Pardue, a minor, and Terrie Pardue, individually and as mother and next friend of Jordan Taylor Pardue, a minor

         (Mobile Circuit Court, CV-14-901924)

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          PARKER, Justice.

         International Creative Management Partners, LLC, d/b/a ICM Partners ("ICM"), petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Mobile Circuit Court to vacate its order denying ICM's motion to dismiss the action filed against it by Jordan Taylor Pardue, a minor, and Terrie Pardue, individually and as Jordan's mother and next friend (hereinafter collectively referred to as "the Pardues"), on the basis that the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over it and to issue an order granting its motion. We grant the petition and issue the writ.

         Facts and Procedural History

         ICM, a limited liability company existing under the laws of the State of Delaware and registered to do business in California and New York, is a literary and talent agency that represents numerous clients throughout the world. ICM's clients perform at various venues around the United States, including venues in Alabama. According to ICM's petition, ICM's principal place of business is in Los Angeles, California. None of ICM's members or managers reside in Alabama, and ICM does not own or lease property in Alabama, is not registered with the Alabama Secretary of State to do business in Alabama as a foreign entity, and "does not direct efforts regarding sales, marketing, or advertising to individuals or businesses located in Alabama."

         Nick Storch, a talent agent employed by ICM at all times relevant to this case, worked out of ICM's New York office. One of the ICM clients assigned to Storch was Cannibal Corpse, a "death-metal" music band that is "owned, managed, promoted and/or controlled" by C.C. Touring Co., Inc., a Florida company. Red Mountain Entertainment, an Alabama company, contacted Storch to inquire about scheduling Cannibal Corpse for a live concert to be performed at Soul Kitchen Music Hall in Mobile, Alabama, on June 27, 2014. Storch, acting as agent for Cannibal Corpse and C.C. Touring, negotiated the details of the concert with Trevor Starnes, an employee of Red Mountain Entertainment. Storch stated in his affidavit testimony that all the fee negotiations were conducted by telephone and e-mail and that "[n]o ICM employees ... ever traveled to Alabama." Based on those negotiations, C.C. Touring and Red Mountain Entertainment entered into a contract, which ICM drafted. ICM received a $250 commission for booking Cannibal Corpse with Red Mountain Entertainment.

         On June 27, 2014, Jordan[1] attended the Cannibal Corpse concert at Soul Kitchen Music Hall. The Pardues state in their response to ICM's petition that, during the concert, "the crowd became violent and Jordan ... was thrown to the ground, suffering a spinal cord injury." The Pardues alleged in their complaint that it was, or should have been, foreseeable "that patrons attending Cannibal Corpse concerts exhibit violent behavior, including ... forming 'mosh pits' and/or dancing, running[, ] jumping or otherwise physically contacting other patrons during the concert." The Pardues state that Jordan's total medical bills for treating the injuries Jordan incurred at the concert exceed $1.2 million.

         On July 3, 2014, the Pardues sued "Soul Kitchen Music Hall" and The Club at 219 Dauphin, Inc. ("the Club"), an Alabama company that owns, manages, and operates the Soul Kitchen Music Hall. On July 23, 2015, the Pardues amended their complaint to add ICM as a defendant. The Pardues, after amending their complaint a fourth time, alleged against ICM claims of negligence, wantonness, and "inciting imminent violence." The Pardues did not sue Red Mountain Entertainment.

         On May 24, 2016, ICM filed a motion to dismiss the Pardues' claims against it under Rule 12(b)(2), Ala. R. Civ. P. ICM argued that Rule 4.2(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., Alabama's "long-arm" rule, did not operate to give the circuit court personal jurisdiction over ICM. Rule 4.2(b) states, in pertinent part:

"An appropriate basis exists for service of process outside of this state upon a person or entity in any action in this state when the person or entity has such contacts with this state that the prosecution of the action against the person or entity in this state is not inconsistent with the constitution of this state or the Constitution of the United States ...."

         On May 10, 2017, following some discovery related to the issue of the circuit court's personal jurisdiction over ICM, the Pardues filed a response to ICM's motion to dismiss, which the circuit court denied on July 31, 2017. The circuit court concluded that ICM's contacts with Alabama were such that it had general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction over ICM.[2] ICM then petitioned this Court for mandamus review of the circuit court's order denying its motion to dismiss.

         Standard of Review

         "We recently addressed the standard of review in a proceeding challenging the trial court's ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in Ex parte Bufkin, 936 So.2d 1042, 1044-45 (Ala. 2006):

"'"'The writ of mandamus is a drastic and extraordinary writ, to be "issued only when there is: 1) a clear legal right in the petitioner to the order sought; 2)an imperative duty upon the respondent to perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so; 3) the lack of another adequate remedy; and 4) properly invoked jurisdiction of the court." Ex parte United Serv. Stations, Inc., 628 So.2d 501, 503 (Ala. 1993); see also Ex parte Ziglar, 669 So.2d 133, ...

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