Defunct AAF Chairman Argues Lack of Personal Jurisdiction in Contract Breach Lawsuit

Thomas Dundon, the former chairman of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction on July 1, 2019 in a California Federal Court. The initial claim alleges that Dundon, who is the now-defunct league’s primary financial backer, “tanked” the AAF mid-season despite committing to fund the league throughout the year, according to Law360.

Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure asserts that “[e]very defense to a claim for relief in any pleading must be asserted in the responsive pleading if one is required. But a party may assert . . . (2) lack of personal jurisdiction . . . .” Dundon’s motion asserts this specific defense in an effort to dismiss the legal claim “. . . on the grounds that this forum cannot exercise jurisdiction over Defendant Thomas Dundon, who is a Texas resident and does not have the requisite minimum contacts with the State of California.” As a matter of federal law, an individual who “. . . does not have sufficient contacts with . . .” a state in which that individual is being sued cannot be sued in that state.

“Dundon is a Texas resident,” the motion argues. “He does not maintain any residence in California. Dundon does not own any property in California — real or personal. Dundon’s only trip to California in 2019 was to play golf in Pebble Beach.” He also does not directly own or operate any businesses headquartered in California. Dundon argues that his lack of contacts in California “. . . fall below the minimum necessary for a California court to exercise general or specific jurisdiction over him in his individual capacity. Accordingly, this court lacks personal jurisdiction over Dundon, and this case should be dismissed against him . . . .”

The lawsuit originates from professional football players Colton Schmidt and Reggie Northup, who claim that, despite their contracts and commitments to playing in the AAF as a possible stepladder to the National Football League, the AAF folded just weeks after its inaugural game. On April 2, Dundon and the AAF suspended operations and, soon after, announced its players were free to seek other playing opportunities, which effectively ended the AAF’s operations.

Dundon also filed a motion to transfer the suit in the event that the Northern District of California Federal Court does not dismiss the case. He claims that the federal court should either move the lawsuit to the Northern District of Texas, where Dundon resides, or the Western District of Texas, where AAF’s bankruptcy proceedings are being held.

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