So says the Russian proverb. Or, as Batchelder J of the 6th Circuit explained it in Conn v Zakharov, 2012 US App LEXIS 607, ‘if you’re afraid of the Russian legal system, don’t do business in Russia’.
Advice not heeded by Richard Conn, who moved to Russia in order to undertake a joint venture with Vladimir Zakharov that was governed by Russian or District of Columbia law. Zakharov repudiated the deal and Conn, who ‘believed he would not prevail in a Russian court’ (presumably for reasons not associated with the merits of his claim), sued his former business partner in Ohio. The defendant had some contacts with the state: he had attended university at Case Western Reserve, owned and maintained real property, had motor vehicle registrations and spent at least a couple of weeks a year in the jurisdiction under a tourist visa. For the US district court and, on appeal, the 6th Circuit, this was not enough either under Ohio’s ‘long arm’ legislation or for the purposes of federal due process: Zakharov’s contacts with the Buckeye State were not sufficiently ‘continuous and systematic’ for the Ohio courts to have jurisdiction over the dispute, and Conn’s claim was unrelated to activities carried on there. Conn served the claim by delivering it to the housekeeper at Zakharov’s Ohio property while he wasn’t there, but this didn’t constitute personal service sufficient to establish jurisdiction.
Not a surprising result, but we like the proverb.