Meat Importer Says Lawsuit Brought by Foreign Parties Cannot Proceed

FairTrade International Inc. moved to dismiss a Connecticut lawsuit filed against it for want of diversity jurisdiction, arguing that the lack of plaintiffs based in the United States means that the court cannot hear the suit

FairTrade and its Uruguayan partial owner were accused of breaching a meat importation contract and misusing the plaintiffs’ multi-million dollar investment. Law Street Media previously reported that the Sept. 15 complaint faulted Rodrigo Echeverrigaray for diverting revenue owed to the plaintiffs into the account of another company he owned to make personal purchases. The lawsuit stated three business tort causes of action for the alleged misconduct.

The present filing explains that FairTrade answered the plaintiffs’ complaint, “admitting the allegations concerning citizenship and principal place of business, and asserting the affirmative defense that subject matter jurisdiction over this action is lacking.” On Nov. 10, the plaintiffs moved to strike two of those affirmative defenses. FairTrade wrote that it will respond to the motion to strike in a separate submission.

FairTrade claims that the only basis for jurisdiction put forward by the plaintiffs, diversity jurisdiction, is lacking. The problem lies, the motion argues, with the lack of parties from different states on both sides of the dispute given the plaintiffs’ alien citizenship. The filing quotes an authority that claims foreign or alien citizenship “destroys diversity if there is an alien on the other side of the case and there are not citizens of states on both sides.”

As proof, the motion recites the parties’ citizenship. “Here, Plaintiffs are both foreign entities: Awano is a Singapore Private Limited Company with its principal place of business in Singapore and Baali is a Taiwan corporation with its principal place of business in Taiwan. As Plaintiffs allege, Defendant Rodrigo Echeverrigaray is a citizen of Uruguay and FairTrade is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and FairTrade by Zeldes, Needle & Cooper, P.C.