Plaintiff, a citizen of Germany filed an action in New York to enforce and collect on a $1 million reward offered by Defendant, rapper and resident of New York, for return of a laptop computer and hard drive that was allegedly stolen from defendant, along with many other personal items, at a tour appearance on October 23, 2010 in Cologne, Germany.
The laptop computer, hard drive and other personal belongings, were found by plaintiff aound the end of November 2010 in Stommelerbusch, Germany. Plaintiff turned over the laptop computer, hard drive and personal belongings to local police who, upon information and belief, returned them to Defendant.
However, Defendant claims that the intellectual property for which the Defendant valued the laptop was not present on the hard drive when it was returned and refused to pay Plaintiff the reward. However, Plaintiff claims to have evidence in the United States that the hard drive’s memory was erased after Defendant received it from Plaintiff and filed suit to reocover the reward money in New York.
Defendant moved to dismiss this complaint on grounds of forum non conveniens arguing that the action would be more appropriately brought in Germany. The court denied the motion notwithstanding Defendant’s attempts to emphasize the events surrounding the theft and recovery of his personal property, all of which occurred in Germany.
The court said, “…the central issue here is the Defendant’s reason for not paying the reward, that is, that the intellectual property on which the reward was allegedly based was missing upon its return. The key witnesses are here in the United States and include the individuals who allegedly reformatted the hard drive at Defendant’s request. Additionally, the communications between the parties and reward offer were in English. Although the Defendant may seek to introduce some evidence arising out of events in Germany, the disputes over those events appear at this juncture to be less significant that the dispute over what transpired in the United States.”