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Banco Ambrosiano, S.p.A. v. Artoc Bank & Tr., Ltd. - 62 N.Y.2d 65, 476 N.Y.S.2d 64, 464 N.E.2d 432 (1984)


Although a New York court may have jurisdiction over a claim, it is not compelled to retain jurisdiction if the claim has no substantial nexus with New York. The question whether jurisdiction should be retained in a given case involves a balancing of several factors, including the difficulties for defendant in litigating the claim in that state, the burden on the New York courts in entertaining the suit and the availability of another more convenient forum in which plaintiff may obtain redress. Once the lower court has considered all relevant factors, however, the reviewing courts will not disturb their determination, unless it appears that the lower courts have abused its discretion as a matter of law.


Plaintiff Banco Ambrosiano (Ambrosiano), an Italian banking corporation, was involved in the international banking business. Banco maintained a representative office in New York City. Defendant Artoc Bank and Trust Limited (Artoc), also a banking corporation, was organized under the laws of the Bahamas and regularly engaged in international transactions. Artoc utilized an account with its New York correspondent bank, Brown Brothers Harriman and Co. (Brown Brothers). Neither Ambrosiano nor Artoc was authorized to engage in the banking business in New York. Ambrosiano brought the present action to recover $ 15 million which it allegedly loaned to Artoc, and which was not been repaid. The memoranda drawn by Artoc indicated that Ambrosiano was to deposit the money in Artoc's account with Brown Brothers, and that repayment was to be made to Ambrosiano's account with its New York correspondent bank. Ambrosiano commenced the action by obtaining an ex parte restraining order, enjoining Brown Brothers from transferring the approximately $ 8 million in Artoc's account. Ambrosiano's motion to confirm the attachment was granted over Artoc's challenge to the exercise of jurisdiction over its property. Special Term, noting that Ambrosiano conceded the lack of in personam jurisdiction, found that the property bore a reasonable relationship to the cause of action and that this relationship was sufficient to form the basis for quasi-in-rem jurisdiction. The Appellate Division affirmed.


Was the attempted assertion of quasi-in-rem jurisdiction over Artoc’s property consistent with due process?




The appellate court affirmed the order of the Appellate Division, holding that the attempted assertion of quasi-in-rem jurisdiction over Artoc’s property was consistent with due process. According to the court, the relationship between Artoc, the litigation and the State was sufficient to make it fair that Artoc be compelled to defend in New York, because Artoc maintained a significant connection with the State and undertook purposeful activity in the State.

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