United States District Court, S.D. Florida
GOLTV, INC. and GLOBAL SPORTS PARTNERS, LLP, Plaintiffs,
FOX SPORTS LATIN AMERICA LTD., et al., Defendants.
CECILIA M. ALTONAGA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THIS CAUSE came before the Court on
Defendants, Confederación Sudamericana de
Fútbol (“Conmebol”), Full Play Group,
S.A., and Alejandro Burzaco's Consolidated Jurisdictional
Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 203] Plaintiffs, GolTV, Inc. and
Global Sports Partners LLP's Amended Complaint [ECF No.
78]. The Court has carefully considered the Amended
Complaint, Motion, Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in
Opposition (“Response”) [ECF No. 218],
Defendants' Consolidated Reply [ECF No. 228], the
affidavits and exhibits filed contemporaneously with the
briefing,  and applicable law.
October 20, 2016, Plaintiffs, GolTV, Inc. and Global Sports
Partners, filed an initial Complaint [ECF No. 1], alleging 16
named Defendants were involved at various levels of bribery
schemes to award and obtain exclusive television rights to
Conmebol's international soccer club tournaments. The
allegations relied extensively on a 92-count Superseding
Indictment [ECF No. 1-3] from a parallel criminal case in the
Eastern District of New York, which charged 27 individual
defendants with crimes including racketeering, conspiracy,
wire fraud, and money laundering offenses in connection with
securing exclusive worldwide rights for international soccer
tournaments. (See generally Compl.).
allege they are victims of bribery schemes spanning from
roughly 2009 to 2015,  during which all Defendants plotted to
enable Defendant, T&T Sports Marketing Ltd., to secure
exclusive television rights to Conmebol's international
soccer tournaments. (See generally Am. Compl.).
While the Amended Complaint peoples the field with multiple
players and details several aspects of this scheme, only the
parties and factual allegations relevant to the Motion are
is “one of the oldest and most prestigious soccer
confederations in the world, ” and is exclusively
authorized to direct and control soccer within the South
American region by soccer's international governing body,
the Fédération Internationale de Football
Association. (Id. 32 (citation omitted)). It is
organized as a confederation of national soccer associations
from ten countries in South America. (See id.). Its
Executive Committee is its permanent authoritative body and
as of 2013 consists of one president, three vice presidents,
a secretary general, a treasurer, and six directors. (See
is a Florida-based television channel that provides Spanish-
and English-language soccer programming in the United States.
(See Id. ¶ 14). Global Sports Partners is an
English partnership formed by GolTV's owners to acquire
television rights to international soccer tournaments for
GolTV. (See Id. ¶ 16).
Sports Marketing is a Cayman Islands company owned for much
of 2005 through 2015 by Defendants, Fox Pan
American and Torneos y Competencias. (See
Id. ¶ 17). Torneos has historically held exclusive
agreements to produce and distribute television programming
related to South American league soccer matches. (See
Id. ¶ 24). Alejandro Burzaco, an Argentine citizen,
had an ownership share in Torneos and variously served as the
company's general manager, legal representative, and
president of its board of directors between 2005 and 2015.
(See Id. ¶ 29). GolTV and Fox are competitors
within the market for professional soccer programming,
although they also do business together. (See Id.
¶ 14). Full Play Group is a Uruguayan corporation and
sports media and marketing business with its principal
offices in Argentina and Uruguay, and Hugo and Mario Jinkis
serve as its controlling officers. (See Id. ¶
the greatest prizes these companies vie for are the
broadcasting rights to the South American tournaments run by
Conmebol. (See Id. ¶¶ 56-58). The
tournaments relevant to the Amended Complaint include the
Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana, and the Recopa
Sudamericana. (See Id. ¶¶ 55-56). Only
Conmebol, by decision of its Executive Committee, can award
television rights for the tournaments. (See Id.
2005 and 2015, Burzaco, Full Play, and the remaining
Defendants allegedly engaged in several acts to further the
schemes to bribe Conmebol officials in order to secure
broadcasting rights to the club tournaments. (See
generally Am. Compl.).
Burzaco, as majority owner of Torneos, which owned 25 percent
of T&T Sports Marketing, caused T&T Sports Marketing
to wire bribe and kickback payments to Conmebol officials.
(See Id. ¶¶ 5, 42, 64, 66). In 2005, he
took over day-to-day management of Torneos and learned of the
annual bribe payments to Conmebol officials which had begun
in 2000 under one of the Torneos founders, Luis Nofal.
(See Id. ¶¶ 62, 67). Burzaco helped to
continue the payment of bribes to Conmebol officials until
2014. (See Id. ¶ 67). Beginning in 2009, he
also acceded to demands for bribes from officials at
Conmebol's member associations, paying annual six-figure
sums to secure these officials' support for T&T
Sports Marketing's exclusive rights to the soccer
tournaments. (See Id. ¶ 69). He oversaw
increases in the bribe payments starting in 2010 and
laundered money through intermediary entities, including Full
Play. (See Id. ¶¶ 69, 95-96).
and Fox also relied on Full Play to launder money through its
own intermediary entities to pay additional bribes and
kickbacks to Conmebol officials. (See Id.
¶¶ 72, 101-07). To avoid detection, some bribes
were wired to Full Play bank accounts and held for periodic
disbursement to the officials. (See Id. ¶ 76
filed the Amended Complaint on March 6, 2017, after
perfecting service of process and narrowing the list of
Defendants. The Court entered an Order [ECF No. 156]
providing for a period of jurisdictional discovery for
Plaintiffs to defend any motion to dismiss on grounds of lack
of jurisdiction or improper venue.
assert Conmebol's, Full Play's, and Burzaco's
activities in the state of Florida are sufficient to subject
them to the jurisdiction of this Court. (See Id.
¶¶ 38-50). Plaintiffs contend venue is proper in
the Southern District of Florida because “a substantial
part of the events, omissions, communications, and
transactions giving rise to Plaintiffs' claims occurred
in this judicial district, including wire transfers of bribes
. . . and other criminal wrongdoing.” (Id.
¶ 51 (alteration added)). Plaintiffs' specific
allegations, and Defendants' respective rebuttals, are
more fully developed in the discussion as to each part of the
and Full Play move to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. (See generally Mot.). The Court
reviews the legal standard before analyzing the
jurisdictional allegations, first as to Conmebol and then as
to Full Play.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a defendant may
move to dismiss a claim against it by asserting the defense
of lack of personal jurisdiction. In the case of a
nonresident defendant, a federal court may properly exercise
personal jurisdiction only if the requirements of (1) the
relevant state long-arm statute; and (2) the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution are both satisfied. See Posner v. Essex Ins.
Co., Ltd., 178 F.3d 1209, 1214 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing
Sculptchair, Inc. v. Century Arts Ltd., 94 F.3d 623,
626 (11th Cir. 1996)).
plaintiff seeking to obtain jurisdiction over a non-resident
defendant initially need only allege sufficient facts to make
out a prima face case of jurisdiction.” Id.
(citing Electro Eng'g Prods. Co. v. Lewis, 352
So.2d 862, 864 (Fla. 1977)). “The district court must
accept the facts alleged in the complaint as true, to the
extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's
affidavits.” Peruyero v. Airbus S.A.S., 83
F.Supp.3d 1283, 1286 (S.D. Fla. 2014) (citing Consol.
Dev. Corp. v. Sherritt, Inc., 216 F.3d 1286, 1291 (11th
Cir. 2000)). If a plaintiff pleads sufficient facts to
support the exercise of personal jurisdiction, the burden
shifts to the defendant to make a prima facie showing of the
inapplicability of the state's long-arm statute. See
Future Tech. Today, Inc. v. OSF Healthcare Sys., 218
F.3d 1247, 1249 (11th Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (quoting
Prentice v. Prentice Colour, Inc., 779 F.Supp. 578,
583 (M.D. Fla. 1991)).
defendant satisfies its burden, the burden then shifts back
to the plaintiff to “substantiate the jurisdictional
allegations in the complaint by affidavits or other competent
proof, and not merely reiterate the factual allegations in
the complaint.” Id. (citation omitted).
“The district court must construe all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff when
dealing with conflicting evidence.” Peruyero,
83 F.Supp.3d at 1287 (citing PVC Windoors, Inc. v.
Babbitbay Beach Const., N.V., 598 F.3d 802, 810 (11th
Cir.2010)) (other citation omitted).
Specific Jurisdiction, Generally
stated, the Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over
Conmebol and Full Play if the requirements of (1) the
relevant state long-arm statute; and (2) the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution are both satisfied. See Posner, 178
F.3d at 1214 (citing Sculptchair, Inc., 94 F.3d at
626). Florida's long-arm statute recognizes two kinds of
personal jurisdiction over defendants: specific jurisdiction
and general jurisdiction. See Fla. Stat.
§§ 48.193(1)-(2). The Amended Complaint asserts
only specific personal jurisdiction over Conmebol and Full
Play. (See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 41, 44-46,
non-resident defendant may be subject to specific personal
jurisdiction under Florida's long-arm statute if the
claim asserted against the defendant arises from its
forum-related contacts and if those contacts fall in one of
the nine enumerated categories listed under section
48.193(1)(a), Florida Statutes. See Wolf v. Celebrity
Cruises, Inc., 683 F. App'x 786, 790 (11th Cir. Mar.
28, 2017) (per curiam) (quoting Carmouche v. Tamborlee
Mgmt., Inc., 789 F.3d 1201, 1203-04 (11th Cir. 2015));
Hard Candy, LLC v. Hard Candy Fitness, LLC, 106
F.Supp.3d 1231, 1239 (S.D. Fla. 2015).
broadly assert the Court has specific jurisdiction over all
Defendants because they each committed tortious acts within
Florida and/or committed tortious acts directed at Florida
and caused injury to GolTV in Florida (see Am. Compl.
¶ 41) - “[c]ommitting a tortious act” being
one of the nine enumerated acts under section 48.193(1)(a),
FLA. STAT. § 48.193(1)(a)(2) (alteration added).
Additionally, Plaintiffs allege the Court has specific
jurisdiction over Conmebol and Full Play because section
48.193(1)(a)(2) supports personal jurisdiction over a
defendant where co-conspirators commit acts in Florida in
furtherance of a conspiracy even when the defendant did not
commit any acts in or have any relevant contacts with
Florida. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 46).
nonresident defendant can commit a tortious act within
Florida even if he commits tortious acts outside the state,
if those acts cause injury within Florida. See
Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Mosseri, 736 F.3d 1339,
1353 (11th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
“[T]he appropriate inquiry is whether the tort as
alleged occurred in Florida, and not whether the alleged tort
actually occurred.” Hard Candy, 106 F.Supp.3d
at 1239 (alteration added; citations and internal quotation
marks omitted). Further, the long-arm statute provides a
defendant's contacts may be based not only on the
defendant's personal activities, but also on the actions
of the defendant's agents. See Fla. Stat. §
48.193(1)(a) (stating a person submits him or herself to
personal jurisdiction under the statute when he/she
“personally or through an agent does any of the acts
enumerated in this subsection”).
Imputing Jurisdictional Contacts
assert Conmebol and Full Play have contacts imputed to them
under the tortious activity provision by virtue of their
agents' and co-conspirators' actions in Florida.
personal jurisdiction is expressly contemplated by the
long-arm statute. See Hard Candy, 106 F.Supp.3d at
1239 (citation omitted). Jurisdiction can apply to
parent-subsidiary relationships as well as relationships
between members of a limited liability company and the
company itself. See Id. at 1241 (citations omitted).
“[G]eneral agency principles apply when determining
personal jurisdiction.” UnitedHealthcare of Fla.,
Inc. v. Am. Renal Assocs. Holdings, Inc., No.
16-81180-CIV-MARRA/Matthewman, 2017 WL 1832436, at *6 (S.D.
Fla. May 8, 2017) (alteration added) (citing Meier v. Sun
Int'l Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d 1264, 1272 (11th Cir.
2002); Taylor v. Phelan, 912 F.2d 429, 433 (10th
Cir. 1990) (per curiam)).
simple terms, agency may be defined as the relation which
results where one person [or entity], called the principal,
authorizes another, called the agent, to act for [it] with
more or less discretionary power, in business dealings with
third persons.” Econ. Research Analysts, Inc. v.
Brennan, 232 So.2d 219, 221 (Fla. 4th DCA 1970)
(alterations added; citation omitted). In the antitrust
context, the test for finding an agency relationship is
apparent authority. See Am. Soc'y Mech. Eng'rs v.
Hydrolevel Corp., 456 U.S. 556, 565-66 (1982).
authority “arises where a principal allows or causes
others to believe the agent possesses . . . authority [to act
for the principal], as where the principal knowingly permits
the agent to assume such authority or where the principal by
his actions or words holds the agent out as possessing
it.” Jackson Hewitt, Inc. v. Kaman, 100 So.3d
19, 31 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011) (alterations added; citation
omitted). “However, that principle of law is qualified
by the added principle that under some circumstances a party
seeking to rely upon the representations of an agent may have
a duty to inquire further.” Palafrugell Holdings,
Inc. v. Cassel, 940 So.2d 492, 494 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006)
(citation omitted). That duty can arise where an agent acts
“facially contrary” to the interests of his
also seek to extend jurisdiction to Conmebol based on its
alleged co-conspirators acting and causing injury in Florida.
The elements of civil conspiracy in Florida are: (1) an
agreement between two or more parties (2) to do an unlawful
act; (3) doing an overt act to further the conspiracy; and
(4) damage to the plaintiff as a result of the acts done
under the conspiracy. See Laterza v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 221 F.Supp.3d 1347, 1352-53 (S.D. Fla. 2016)
(quoting Raimi v. Furlong, 702 So.2d 1273, 1284
(Fla. 3d DCA 1997)). Florida's long-arm statute supports
personal jurisdiction over an “alleged conspirator
where any other co-conspirator commits an act in Florida in
furtherance of the conspiracy, even if the defendant over
whom personal jurisdiction is sought individually committed
no act in, or had no relevant contact with, Florida.”
United Techs. Corp. v. Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1281-82
(11th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted) (citing cases); see
also Execu-Tech Bus. Sys. v. New Oji Paper Co., 752
So.2d 582, 586 (Fla. 2000).
Jurisdiction over Conmebol Under Florida Statute Section
Plaintiffs bear the initial burden of pleading allegations
sufficient to establish a prima facie case of specific
jurisdiction over Conmebol, the Court turns to the Amended
Complaint. The Amended Complaint raises five claims against
Conmebol: conspiracy in restraint of trade in the Americas
television rights market in violation of section 1 of the
Sherman Act (Count III); conspiracy in restraint of trade in
the U.S. television programming market in violation of
section 1 of the Sherman Act (Count IV); conspiracy in
restraint of trade in the U.S. television advertising airtime
market in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act (Count
V); conspiracy to monopsonize the Americas television rights
market in violation of section 2 of the Sherman Act (Count
VIII); and violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair
Trade Practices Act, Florida Statutes section 501.201 et
seq. (Count IX). (See generally Am. Compl.).
Each count involves “tortious acts” under the
Florida long-arm statute. (See Resp. 42 & n.17
(citing cases identifying antitrust, FDUTPA, and RICO claims
as torts for the purposes of the Florida long-arm statute)).
allege Conmebol actively participated in the scheme to trade
money payments to Conmebol officials for exclusive television
rights to broadcast the soccer tournaments. (See
generally Am. Compl.). For instance, Conmebol, through
its agents,  Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout,
communicated and traveled to and from Florida in furtherance
of the tournament bribes. (See Id. ¶ 45).
Plaintiffs also allege Conmebol knew of and participated in a
larger agreement among the Defendants to continue to provide
kickbacks to Conmebol officials in exchange for
Conmebol's awarding of broadcast rights for the
tournaments to T&T Sports Marketing (see Id.
¶ 46); and at least some of the Defendants acted in
furtherance of this conspiracy in Florida (see Id.
allegations set forth a prima facie case of specific
jurisdiction under the “committing a tortious
act” provisions of Florida's long-arm statute. The
burden shifts to ...