A state court in Newark, N.J., is an ideal location to decide whether New York-based Citigroup Inc. was complicit in the fraud that caused the 2004 collapse of Italian dairy giant Parmalat. At least that's what Superior Court Judge Jonathan Harris thinks.
"After carefully reviewing a hastily cobbled together record that supposedly details the tortured and inordinately expensive labors that the parties have endured during the initial discovery phase of this litigation, I am now more convinced that New Jersey remains an appropriate forum for resolution of the instant dispute," Harris wrote in a Jan. 22 decision.
Parmalat sued New York-based Citigroup as well as other financial institutions for allegedly arranging complex shelters to hide the company's financial maladies. Citigroup argued the case should go forward in Italy because trying the case in New Jersey would involve significant transcontinental travel for key witnesses as well as increased costs for translating 10 million-odd pages of court documents from Italian to English. Harris thought New Jersey was an equally convenient venue for the litigation, despite the fact that Parmalat's only connection to the state was a subsidiary and some operations based in Wallington.
"Although the urbane land of Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo Da Vinci might better suit defendants' liking than the straightforward home of Yogi Berra, Anthony Soprano and Frank Sinatra, I remain steadfast in my view that the Italian connection with the goings-on in this case does not trump the reasonable selection of New Jersey for its dispute resolution."