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TANKERSLEY v. ALBRIGHT

July 11, 1973

RUTH ELIZABETH MCCORMICK TANKERSLEY ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JOSEPH M.P. ALBRIGHT ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Decker, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This action was instituted by the Trustees of the McCormick-Patterson Trust for a declaratory judgment against two non-resident beneficiaries. The basis of jurisdiction alleged in the complaint is diversity of citizenship. Service on the defendants was made outside the State of Illinois. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 110, § 16; F.R.Civ.P. 4(d), (e).

Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the defendants have moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Since a federal court sitting in diversity must apply the law of the state in which it is located, the question here is whether this court has acquired in personam jurisdiction over the defendants pursuant to the Illinois "long arm" statute. O'Hare Int'l Bank v. Hampton, 437 F.2d 1173, 1175 (7th Cir. 1971); Arrowsmith v. United Press Int'l, 320 F.2d 219 (2d Cir. 1963); Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 110, § 17.

Section 17 provides, in pertinent part, that:

    "(1) Any person, whether or not a citizen or
  resident of this State, who in person or through an
  agent does any of the acts hereinafter enumerated,
  thereby submits such person, and, if an individual,
  his personal representative, to the jurisdiction of
  the courts of this State as to any cause of action
  arising from the doing of any such acts:
      (a) The transaction of any business within this
    State;
    "(3) Only causes of action arising from acts
  enumerated herein may be asserted against a defendant
  in an action in which jurisdiction over him is based
  upon this Section."

The essential facts, taken from the motions, memoranda and affidavits submitted to the court, are substantially without dispute. The McCormick-Patterson Trust was created in Illinois in 1932; the Trust res consists entirely of shares of stock of the Tribune Company,*fn1 which stock, together with the Trust's books and records, are located in Illinois. The Tribune Company's headquarters and principal place of business are in Illinois. All stock dividend checks to the beneficiaries are either delivered in or mailed from Illinois.

Defendant Josephine Albright, at present a resident and citizen of Vermont, is a former resident and citizen of Illinois, but maintains a bank account in Chicago, Illinois, and has received dividend checks from the Trust since 1941. These checks are sent directly to her Illinois bank where they are deposited to her account.

Defendant Joseph Albright is a citizen of the District of Columbia and has received Trust dividend checks, mailed from Chicago, since 1967. In 1971, upon the death of one of the Trustees, Mr. Albright campaigned to succeed the decedent as Trustee. At least twice during this campaign, the defendant traveled to Illinois to meet with a number of the Trustees and beneficiaries and to solicit their support for his candidacy.*fn2 He also made numerous telephone calls and sent telegrams to Trustees and beneficiaries residing in Illinois for the same purpose. Although this campaign was unsuccessful, Mr. Albright continued to demonstrate an interest in the Trust by making telephone calls to one of the Trustees in Illinois concerning matters relating to the Trust.

On or about March 12, 1973, a notice of annual meeting of stockholders, to be held in Chicago, Illinois, on April 12, 1973, with a proxy statement and proxy were sent to each stockholder of the Tribune Company. The statement contained proposed amendments to the Company's certificate of incorporation and by-laws, which had been proposed by the plaintiffs as Trustees of the Trust and as directors of the Tribune Company. On or about the same date, plaintiffs also sent a letter to all beneficiaries of the Trust, informing them of the proposals and of the Trustees' intention to vote all of the Trust's shares of stock in favor thereof. On March 30, 1973, defendants wrote to plaintiffs in Illinois, outlining their objections to the proposals and the Trustees' intention to vote all of the Trust's stock in favor of the proposed amendments. Their letter to the Trustees' received in Illinois, contained these assertions:

On April 3, 1973, Mr. Albright telephoned one of the plaintiffs in Illinois, informed him of the letter, and specifically inquired as to the proposed amendments. Mr. Albright had previously sought to reach this Trustee in Illinois on March 29th.

The letter from the Albrights was received by the Trustees in Illinois and was construed as a precursor of a law-suit by the beneficiaries to prevent the Trustees from voting in favor of the amendments. Accordingly, the plaintiffs filed the instant declaratory judgment action, which seeks a ruling, inter alia, that the plaintiffs are legally empowered to vote the shares in favor of the amendments and that such action does not ...


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