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Suttie v. Sloan Sales
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT					Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	1998 ME 121
Docket:	Som-97-738
Submitted
on Briefs:	May 11, 1998
Decided:	May 27, 1998

Panel:WATHEN, C.J., and ROBERTS, CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, DANA, and SAUFLEY, JJ.



GERALD R. SUTTIE v. SLOAN SALES, INC.

ROBERTS, J.

	[¶1]  Gerald R. Suttie appeals from the judgment entered in the
Superior Court (Somerset County, Marsano, J.) dismissing his complaint
against Sloan Sales, Inc., for lack of personal jurisdiction.  On appeal he
contends that the court erred by failing to find that an exercise of
jurisdiction over Sloan Sales would be consistent with Maine's long-arm
statute, 14 M.R.S.A. § 704-A (1980 & Supp. 1997), and the Due Process
Clause of the federal constitution.  We vacate the judgment.  
	[¶2]  In November 1995 Sloan Sales, a Massachusetts corporation that
acts as a food broker for restaurants and grocery stores, hired Suttie, a
Maine resident, as an account executive.  Suttie claims that when he was
hired he was told by Samuel Sloan, the president of Sloan Sales, that he
would act as the company's exclusive representative in Maine.  Sloan Sales
also provided Suttie with a fax machine, which he used to communicate with
its office in Massachusetts and with existing and potential Maine customers
from his home.  Sloan Sales acknowledges that of its 726 customers, 18 are
residents of Maine and 5 or 6 are regular, ongoing customers located in
Maine.  Suttie spent approximately 15% of his working hours in Maine. 
Suttie, however, was hired and had an office in Massachusetts and spent the
majority of his time in other states.  In March 1996 Sloan Sales discharged
Suttie because he failed to generate the revenue necessary to justify his
employment.  
	[¶3]  In September 1996 Suttie filed a complaint in the Superior
Court against Sloan Sales and Samuel Sloan{1} alleging that they were liable to
Suttie for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, and
unpaid wages.  In June 1997 the court granted the defendants' motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  This appeal followed.  
	[¶4]  Under Maine's long-arm statute, 14 M.R.S.A. § 704-A, the
exercise of personal jurisdiction is permissible as long as it is consistent
with the Due Process Clause of the federal constitution, and therefore when
applying the statute a court need only consider whether due process
requirements have been satisfied.  Mahon v. East Moline Metal Prods., 579
A.2d 255, 256 (Me. 1990).  
In order for Maine to exercise personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant, due process requires that (1) Maine
have a legitimate interest in the subject matter of [the]
litigation; (2) the defendant, by his conduct, reasonably could
have anticipated litigation in Maine; and (3) the exercise of
jurisdiction by Maine's courts comports with traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.  
Murphy v. Keenan, 667 A.2d 591, 593 (Me. 1995).  A plaintiff has the
burden of establishing the first two prongs of the test.  Id. at 594.  This
showing must be based on specific facts set forth in the record, and the
record should be construed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff.  Frazier
v. Bankamerica Int'l, 593 A.2d 661, 662 (Me. 1991).  Once he makes this
requisite showing, the burden shifts to the defendant to establish that
asserting jurisdiction does not comport with traditional notions of fair play
and substantial justice.  Id.  
	[¶5]  Contrary to Sloan Sales' contentions, the exercise of jurisdiction
by a Maine court would be consistent with the Due Process Clause of the
federal constitution.  Maine has a legitimate interest in protecting its
citizens from fraudulent employment practices and providing its citizens
with a means of redress against nonresidents.  In addition, Sloan Sales
reasonably could have anticipated litigation in Maine because it has sufficient
contacts with the state.  See Caluri v. Rypkema, 570 A.2d 830, 832-33 (Me.),
cert. denied, 498 U.S. 818 (1990).  By providing Suttie with a fax machine,
Sloan Sales essentially established an office in Maine.  In addition, Sloan
Sales regularly sells its services to Maine residents and admits it hired
Suttie, at least in part, for the purpose of enlarging its Maine market. 
Moreover, Sloan Sales has failed to demonstrate that the exercise of
jurisdiction by a Maine court would not comport with the traditional notions
of fair play and substantial justice.  See id. at 833.  
	The entry is:
				Judgment vacated.  Remanded for
				further proceedings consistent
				with this opinion. 

Attorney for plaintiff: Alan J. Levenson, Esq. Levenson, Vickerson & Beneman P O Box 465 Portland, ME 04112-0465 Attorney for defendant: Edward S. MacColl, Esq. Thompson, McNaboe, Ashley & Bull, LLC, P.A. P O Box 447 Portland, ME 04112-0447
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1}. Suttie does not challenge the court's dismissal of Samuel Sloan for lack of personal jurisdiction.