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Hatheway v. Sirochman

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 22, 2019

Alison Lorraine Hatheway, Plaintiff,
v.
Michael Sirochman, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff “Alison Lorraine Hatheway TM/SM” has asserted Lanham Act claims against three Connecticut realtors (Michael Sirochman, Nicholas Mastrangelo, and Richard Greene) and one Connecticut attorney (John S. Bennet)[1] (collectively, “Defendants”). The complaint alleges that Defendants mischaracterized a parcel of Connecticut property as “bank owned” on certain real estate websites, even though that property is actually owned by a “common law trust” controlled by Plaintiff, and that Defendants thereby caused Plaintiff to be locked out of the Connecticut property when attempting to use it “for business and or domicile.”

         Now pending before the Court are a pair of motions to dismiss, one filed by the three realtors (Doc. 18) and the other filed by the attorney (Doc. 19). Although Defendants have identified an array of different reasons why the complaint should be dismissed (including lack of service, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim), the Court will grant both motions on the most straightforward ground presented: lack of personal jurisdiction.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Complaint

         Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, has brought claims against Defendants for false advertising under 15 U.S.C. § 1125, a provision of the Lanham Act. The complaint generally alleges that Defendants have falsely advertised a property in Deep River, Connecticut as “bank owned.” To the extent the Court can decipher the complaint, it specifically alleges as follows:

         Plaintiff “Alison Lorraine Hatheway is a business entity registered in Minnesota, with a business location in Arizona.” (Doc. 1 at 2.) Plaintiff operates a “travel agency business” and is trustee of a trust, Sonlight, that owns the Connecticut property. (Id. at 2-3, 5.)

         Defendants Sirochman, Mastrangelo, and Greene “appear to be acting as realtors for Coldwell Banker[].” (Id. at 2.)

         Defendant Bennet “is an individual who claims to be representing the Bank of New York Mellon, as trustee for CWALT.” (Id.)

         Bank of New York Mellon, as Trustee for CWALT, obtained a foreclosure judgment for the Connecticut property, but “[i]t is legally impossible for Bank of New York to sell [the] property.” (Id. at 2.)

         Defendants have violated 15 U.S.C. § 1125 by “publicly advertising the property is bank owned, ” “refus[ing] to cease and desist when formally requested to do so, ” “continuing to promote the property for sale as bank owned, ” and “entic[ing] potential buyers to trespass on the property.” (Id. at 3-4.) Specifically, Bennet “filed a petition into the Superior Court of New Britain Connecticut naming the Bank of New York Mellon as the owner of the real property, ” Mastrangelo “advertis[ed] the property for sale, bank owned on auction.com, ” Sirochman “offered the property as bank ow[n]ed in July 2018” and then “continued to advertise using the term bank owned” after briefly “remov[ing] the listing, ” and Greene “has continued to advertise [the property] as bank owned, . . . continue[d] to trespass on the property with alleged potential buyers who have been told the property is bank owned, ” and “summoned the police to the property to remove the security” hired by Sonlight, “informing the police with no documentation that it is bank owned.” (Id.)

         As for damages, Plaintiff alleges it “cannot use or domicile at the property due to the trespass of defendants” and “is unable to enter the property as defendants have two lock boxes and padlocks on the property” and has therefore experienced “commercial loss” because it “cannot perform [its] duties and work.” (Id. at 4-5.) It has also been forced to “retain security” and “work with neighbors to allow cameras on their property.” (Id.)

         II. Declarations

         Defendants have filed declarations in support of their motions to dismiss. (Doc. 18-1 at 5-12; Doc. 19-1.) Those declarations contain the following facts:

         Sirochman “reside[s] and work[s] in Orange, Connecticut, and ha[s] resided in Orange since 2017 and worked in Orange, Connecticut since 2005.” (Doc. 18-1 at 5 ¶ 3.) He does not live, work, or transact business in Arizona. (Id. ¶ 4.)

         Mastrangelo “ha[s] resided and worked in Orange, Connecticut since Sept. 1970” and does not live, work, or transact business in Arizona. (Id. at 8 ¶¶ 3-4.)

         Greene “ha[s] resided and worked in Essex, Connecticut since 1949, ” does not live or work in Arizona, and does not transact ...


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