United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable G. Murray Snow United States District Judge
before the Court are the Motions to Dismiss of Defendants
Haresh Mehta, (Doc. 57), Vemma International Holdings Inc.,
(Doc. 70), and Tom and Bethany Alkazin, (Doc. 74). For the
reasons discussed below, the Court grants the motions and
dismisses Defendant Mehta. The Court grants Vemma
International Holdings' and Tom Alkazin, and Bethany
Alkazin's Motions to Dismiss with leave for Dr. Edwards
to amend the complaint within thirty days.
Dr. John Edwards is a resident of California. (Doc. 13 ¶
1). In December 2007, Dr. Edwards became an
“affiliate” of Vemma Nutrition, a multi-level
marketing company focused on selling nutritional products.
(Doc. 61). Vemma Nutrition is incorporated in Arizona. (Doc.
13 ¶ 8). Dr. Edwards is an expert in the use of
mangosteen as a dietary supplement, and he has copyrighted
books and video recordings on the subject. (Doc. 13 ¶
Tom Alkazin and his wife Bethany Alkazin are also affiliates
of Vemma Nutrition. They currently live in Nevada and
previously resided in California during the alleged conduct.
(Doc. 13 ¶¶ 3, 32). Under the direction of Vemma
Nutrition, Mr. Alkazin worked with a Montana-based talent
agency called Hot Biz Tools to contract with Dr. Edwards for
the use of Dr. Edwards's copyrighted material. (Doc. 13
¶ 22). Soon thereafter, Mr. Alkazin terminated the
agreement with Hot Biz Tools and worked with a
California-based media company named XL Media Solutions.
(Doc. 13 ¶ 23). Under this new agreement, Dr. Edwards
licensed his copyrighted works to XL Media, and Mr. Alkazin
agreed to purchase CDs of the copyrighted material
exclusively from XL Media. (Doc. 13 ¶ 23). Two years
later, Mr. Alkazin terminated the agreement with XL Media,
and the Alkazins contracted with Dr. Edwards to market and
distribute the copyrighted materials on a website named
VmaTools.com. (Doc. 13 ¶ 25). The Complaint then alleges
that Vemma Nutrition, Tom Alkazin, and Bethany Alkazin
violated the marketing and distribution agreements by copying
and selling CDs without Dr. Edwards' permission and
without paying him royalties. (Doc. 13 ¶ 26). Dr.
Edwards also alleges that Mr. Alkazin wrongfully undermined
Dr. Edwards' opportunities to present at Vemma Nutrition
conferences in Las Vegas, Nevada and various international
cities. (Doc. 13 ¶ 42).
Haresh Mehta resides in South Carolina and is another alleged
affiliate of Vemma Nutrition. Mr. Haresh Mehta worked with
Tarak Mehta and Vemma Nutrition to open a Vemma Nutrition
franchise in India under the name Vemma Vitamins Pvt. Ltd.
(Doc. 13 ¶ 31). Dr. Edwards alleges that Defendant Vemma
“induced, participated in, aided and abetted, and
profited from the copying and distribution” in India of
Dr. Edwards' copyrighted material, but he does not allege
anything concerning Haresh Mehta's individual
participation. (Doc. 13 ¶ 31). Additionally, Dr. Edwards
entrusted Haresh Mehta with a book script to be taken to
India for printing. (Doc. 13 ¶ 52). Dr. Edwards alleges
that Haresh Mehta hid the script at his home in South
Carolina for the benefit of Vemma Nutrition. (Doc. 13 ¶
Edwards filed a Complaint against multiple defendants
concerning copyright infringement and racketeering, as well
as a breach of contract claim against Vemma Nutrtion. (Doc.
13). The Complaint names both Vemma Nutrition, Inc. and Vemma
International Holdings as corporate defendants, although the
Complaint generally does not differentiate between these two
entities and refers to them collectively as
“Vemma.” (Doc. 13 ¶ 2). The Court previously
dismissed Defendant Vemma Nutrition, Inc. due to an
arbitration agreement. (Doc. 61). Defendants Haresh Mehta and
Tom and Bethany Alkazin filed motions to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction, and Defendant Vemma International
Holding filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim. (Docs. 57, 70, 74).
Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
party seeking to invoke the court's jurisdiction bears
the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists.”
Scott v. Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986)
(citing Data Disc, Inc. v. Systems Tech. Assocs.,
557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 1977)). “When a defendant
moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the
plaintiff is ‘obligated to come forward with facts, by
affidavit or otherwise, supporting personal
jurisdiction.'” Id. (quoting Amba
Mktg. Sys., Inc. v. Jobar Int'l, Inc., 551 F.2d 784,
787 (9th Cir. 1977)). “The mere allegations of a
complaint, when contradicted by affidavits, are not enough to
confer personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant.” Chem Lab Products, Inc. v.
Stepanek, 554 F.2d 371, 372 (9th Cir. 1977) (citing
Taylor v. Portland Paramount Corp., 383 F.2d 634,
639 (9th Cir. 1967)); Data Disc, 557 F.2d at 1284
(citing Taylor, 383 F.2d at 639).
establish a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction, the
plaintiff has the burden of showing that the exercise of
jurisdiction comports with the state long-arm statute and the
principles of due process. Omeluk v. Langsten Slip &
Batbyggeri A/S, 52 F.3d 267, 269 (9th Cir. 1995).
Arizona's long-arm statute confers jurisdiction to the
maximum extent allowed by the Due Process Clause of the
United States Constitution. Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4.2(a); Doe
v. American Nat'l Red Cross, 112 F.3d 1048, 1050
(9th Cir.1997). Due process requires a nonresident defendant
to have “certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such
that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316
(1945) (internal citation omitted). There are two types of
personal jurisdiction, general and specific. Burger King
Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 473 n. 5 (1985).
Plaintiff Mr. Edwards bases jurisdiction over Haresh Mehta
and the Alkazins on a basis of specific personal
jurisdiction. (Doc. 13 ¶ 11; doc. 62 at 3-11; doc. 83 at