The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge DiFiore, over a concurring opinion and a three-judge dissenting opinion, determined that an Ohio firearms dealer (Brown) did not have “minimum contacts” with New York sufficient for the exercise of long-arm jurisdiction (CPLR 302) over him. A gun sold by Brown to Bostic, an Ohio resident, in Ohio, was sold on the black market to a member of a gang in Buffalo, New York, who shot plaintiff:
Defendant Charles Brown, a federal firearm licensee, was authorized to sell handguns only in Ohio and only to Ohio residents, which he primarily accomplished through retail sales at gun shows held in various locations in Ohio. Brown did not maintain a website, had no retail store or business telephone listing, and did no advertising of any kind, except by posting a sign at his booth when participating in a gun show. In a series of transactions in 2000, Brown sold handguns to James Nigel Bostic and his associates. Prior to the transaction involving the gun at issue here, Brown consulted with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ensure its legality. For each transaction, the necessary forms required by the ATF were properly completed and submitted, the purchaser passed the required Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check before the firearms were transferred, Brown verified that the purchaser had government-issued identification demonstrating Ohio residency, and notification of the purchases was timely sent to local law enforcement and the ATF as required by the federal Gun Control Act (see 18 USC § 922). During the transactions, Bostic indicated he was in the process of becoming a federal firearms licensee and was acquiring inventory for the eventual opening of a gun shop. * * *
… “[A] non-domiciliary tortfeasor has minimum contacts with the forum State . . . if it purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State” …,”thus invoking the benefits and protections of [the forum state’s] laws”… . This test envisions something more than the “fortuitous circumstance” that a product sold in another state later makes its way into the forum jurisdiction through no marketing or other effort of defendant … . Put another way, “the mere likelihood that a product will find its way into the forum” cannot establish the requisite connection between defendant and the forum “such that [defendant] should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there” … .
The constitutional inquiry “focuses on the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation'” … . Significantly, “it is the defendant’s conduct that must form the necessary connection with the forum State that is the basis for its jurisdiction” … . Williams v Beemiller, Inc., 2019 NY Slip Op 03656, CtApp 5-9-19