Swenberg v. Dmarcian, Inc., 2021 WL 3856599 (Cal. Ct. App. 2021)

Charles Swenberg sued Martijn Groeneweg (among others), alleging various claims related to his ownership interest in and employment with dmarcian, Inc. Groeneweg (a Dutch citizen) filed a motion to quash service for lack of personal jurisdiction over him in the State of California. The trial court granted Groeneweg’s motion, but the Court of Appeal reversed, noting that Groeneweg “publicly presented himself as one of the leaders of dmarcian, with no hint there was a distinction between dmarcian and any other entity Groeneweg was associated with.” Among other things, the Court observed that dmarcian and dmarcian EU shared a website, and on the dmarcian website, Groeneweg appears immediately below the CEO of the California-based entity. The Court also took note of Groeneweg’s LinkedIn profile, which describes him as “General Manager Europe at dmarcian” without reference to dmarcian EU or any other entity. Further, Swenberg stated in his declaration that he had participated in conference calls with Groeneweg “about the business of dmarcian, including the sales process and other day-to-day business matters.” The Court concluded, “Groeneweg chose to make the Internet presence of dmarcian EU, and its ability to obtain customers from online contacts, depend upon the services of a California-based company. We see no unfairness in requiring him to subject himself to the jurisdiction of California courts in litigation involving his relationship with that California company and its employees.”