Barretto v. Gonzalez

2006 WL 3476787 (2006)

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Barretto v. Gonzalez

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
2006 WL 3476787 (2006)

Facts

Maria Barretto (plaintiff) sued Hortensia Gonzalez (defendant) in New York state court for breach of her fiduciary duty to disburse a portion of the compensation Gonzalez received from the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (fund) for the death of Gonzalez’s former husband, Lieutenant Dennis Mojica. Mojica, a New York City firefighter, died in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Mojica and Gonzalez shared one minor daughter, Allessandria, but at the time of Mojica’s death, Mojica was engaged to Barretto and had been living with Barretto for the previous eight years. The fund was created by Congress to compensate the relatives of individuals lost in the September 11 attacks. Gonzalez filed a claim for compensation from the fund as Mojica’s personal representative. Distributions from the fund were made by an appointed special master, who determined that all compensation paid out on behalf of Mojica should be awarded to Allessandria, with Gonzalez serving as the representative payee while Allessandria was a minor. Barretto sued Gonzalez in state court, claiming that Gonzalez failed to disburse a portion of the award to Barretto as Mojica’s domestic partner. Gonzalez removed the case to the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which then transferred it to the District Court for the Southern District of New York, but the Southern District of New York ordered Gonzalez to show cause why the case should not be remanded back to state court. Gonzalez responded that the Southern District of New York had exclusive original jurisdiction over the case because it arose from Barretto’s claim that she was wrongly denied a portion of the compensation paid from the fund, and the Southern District of New York had exclusive jurisdiction over all cases related to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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