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RUPPMAN MARKETING SERVICES v. POLYGLYCOAT

November 20, 1981

RUPPMAN MARKETING SERVICES, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
POLYGLYCOAT CORPORATION, A NEW YORK CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert D. Morgan, Chief Judge.

DECISION AND ORDER

It is clear that Illinois has attempted to assert jurisdiction over non-resident defendants by such service, to the full extent permitted by the due-process clause of the United States Constitution. Nelson v. Miller, 11 Ill.2d 378, 143 N.E.2d 673 (1957). Defendant moves to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction over the person of defendant through such service, on the basis that defendant's contacts with Illinois have not been such as would subject it to jurisdiction in this state under the "minimum contacts" rule of International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945), and Lindley v. St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co., 407 F.2d 639 (7th Cir. 1968). Plaintiff strongly resists said motion.

Each side has filed an affidavit; and while they assert different facts, they present no significant factual conflict. Consequently, the significant facts appear to be before the court, on the subject of defendant's contacts with Illinois, from the viewpoint of both parties to this disputed issue of law.

It appears that defendant has no property of any kind in Illinois, no office, or books, or records. Its products are widely sold in Illinois to, and through, a distributor. They are purchased by the independent distributor from defendant's office in Florida and are shipped to it F.O.B. New York. Plaintiff's services were ordered by defendant from Florida, by contacting plaintiff's New York office; and defendant has had no contact whatsoever with plaintiff's Illinois office, except that initiated by plaintiff's Illinois office after the dispute in suit arose.

It also appears that plaintiff performed substantial services for defendant, in Illinois, in February through June 1980, after meetings outside of Illinois by representatives of the parties, which services have all been billed and paid for. During those services, publications were mailed widely in a name indicating defendant's responsibility therefor, showing a return address in Illinois, which was actually the address of plaintiff's office, i.e.,

  POLYGLYCOAT WARRANTY TRAC
  SYSTEM
  1909 East Cornell Drive
  Peoria, Illinois 61614

Thereafter, pursuant to alleged further agreement, plaintiff created additional large mailings for defendant, to solicit customers to notify them of available services and to invite them to various regional seminars, etc. The mailings included "sign up cards" to be return-mailed by customers, addressed as follows:

  POLYGLYCOAT DEALER TRAFFIC
  BUILDER SYSTEM
  1909 East Cornell
  Peoria, Illinois 61614

OR

  AUTOMOTIVE CUSTOMER SERVICES
  CONSUMER PROTECTION, INC.
  Dealer Traffic Builder System
  1909 East Cornell
  Peoria, Illinois 61614

All of the artwork, typesetting, printing, creative design, and other services, including all mailings, were performed by plaintiff at or from its offices at Peoria, Illinois. Some 31,000 letters were sent by plaintiff from Peoria to lists of addresses supplied by defendant. Between August and November 1980, there were "constant communications" between plaintiff, in Illinois, and defendant, outside of Illinois.

Thus, defendant's business is to sell its automobile care product, primarily through independent contractor distributors, to automobile dealers and for ultimate use by auto owners. Plaintiff's alleged agreement for its services was clearly in support of this program, to aid defendant's distributors in building sales. Defendant has people traveling into Illinois to attend and participate in such seminars, to call upon its Illinois distributor, etc., but so far as appears, had no contact with plaintiff on such trips. The sole question is whether, in these circumstances, defendant has had the necessary contacts with Illinois to make the Illinois long-arm statute applicable to it in this case, without violating the fundamental fairness necessary for due process of law.

Defendant, of course, argues that the necessary minimum contacts do not exist. Plaintiff asserts defendant's knowledge that all plaintiff's services would be performed in Illinois, and that all its mailings on behalf of defendant would be made from Illinois, is significant, especially in the light of defendant's personnel coming to Illinois regularly to contact its distributors, the distributor in Illinois being permitted to call itself Polyglycoat-Greatlakes, Inc., and ...


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