Law School Case Brief
Songbyrd, Inc. v. Estate of Grossman - 206 F.3d 172 (2d Cir. 2000)
Whether or not venue is proper, lack of personal jurisdiction may be cured by transfer to a district in which personal jurisdiction could be exercised, with the transfer authority derived from either 28 U.S.C.S. § 1406(a) or 28 U.S.C.S. § 1404(a).
The late Henry Roeland Byrd, known professionally as "Professor Longhair," enjoyed some success as a recording artist in New Orleans in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1971 he was discovered working in a New Orleans record store by Arthur "Quint" Davis, who needed performers for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, known as "JazzFest," which Davis and others had organized. Byrd became a star attraction of JazzFest until his death in 1980. In 1993, SongByrd, Inc. (Songbyrd) was incorporated as a successor-in-interest to the intellectual property rights of Byrd and his deceased widow. Songbyrd sought to establish ownership of master recording tapes made by a rhythm-and-blues pianist and composer from Estate of Grossman who had possession of those tapes. The lower court transferred the case to New York where the case was time barred by the statute of limitations.
Was the case properly transferred from Louisiana to New York?
The Court held that the transfer to New York was appropriate because Estate of Grossman lacked personal jurisdiction in Louisiana since he did not have sufficient contacts with the state. Also, the Court affirmed that the case was time barred by the statute of limitations, because Estate of Grossman began to use the tapes as its own more than three years before Songbyrd brought the case. Also, the Court held that because possessor openly dealt with the property as its own, the demand-and-refusal rule for the accrual of the conversion claim did not apply.
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