Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. Civil No. 84-1133)
Before ALDISERT, Chief Judge, SLOVITER, Circuit Judge, and STAPLETON, District Judge*fn*
Facts and Procedural History
Plaintiff Renaldo Nehemiah, a renowned hurdler who holds the world's record for the 110 meter hurdles, lost his eligibility to compete in amateur track and field competition when he signed a contract to play professional football. Rule 53 of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) provides that an athlete will not be eligible to compete in either domestic or international competition if she "has competed in any sport ... for any pecuniary reward." Rule 53 is incorporated and made applicable to the members of The Athletics Congress of the U.S.A., Inc. (TAC) by Rule 11 of the TAC operating rules.
An athlete who has accepted such pecuniary benefits in a sport other than the sport of athletics (track and field) may be declared eligible by the IAAF Council, "if it is satisfied that the practice of that sport is not of direct help for any athletics event." The TAC Board of Review recommended a decision in Nehemiah's favor, as did the United States Olympic Committee, and Nehemiah's membership in TAC was reinstated and his eligibility to compete in domestic amateur athletics was reconfirmed. The IAAF took a contrary position, and as a result TAC has refused to enforce the decision of its own Board of Review.
Nehemiah filed this action against TAC and IAAF seeking to compel arbitration pursuant to Rule 19 of the IAAF Rules. He later amended the complaint to add a request for damages for breach of the alleged agreement between TAC and IAAF to arbitrate and for interference with prospective economic advantage.
Shortly after suit was filed. Primo Nebiolo, the President of IAAF, and Ollan Cassel, the President of TAC and an IAAF Council member, were personally served with the complaint by Nehemiah's attorney at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, while they were attending the IAAF-sponsored world cross-country championships. Nehemiah was not a participant in the event, since he is not a cross-country runner and never sought entry in those championships.
In opposition to plaintiff's application for a preliminary injunction and in support of IAAF's contention that it could not be subjected to jurisdiction in New Jersey, it filed an affidavit of John Byron Holt, General Secretary of IAAF. The district court denied plaintiff's application for preliminary injunction.*fn1 It thereafter denied defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. In the ruling at issue here, the court denied IAAF's motion to dismiss this action for lack of personal jurisdiction, a motion in which TAC did not join.
The court rejected IAAF's assertion that jurisdiction could not be exercised unless plaintiff showed IAAF had sufficient minimum contacts with New Jersey. The court held that minimum contacts need not be shown with respect to unincorporated associations and that personal service made on IAAF's president established personal jurisdiction over the association. At the request of IAAF, the court certified its ruling for interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) and stayed further proceedings. This court granted IAAF permission to appeal.