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First Nat'l Bk of Chicago v. Boelcskevy

OPINION FILED JUNE 29, 1984.

THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF CHICAGO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

V.B. BOELCSKEVY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas J. O'Brien, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff First National Bank of Chicago appeals from the trial court's order granting the motion of defendant Robert Knight to quash service of process for lack of in personam jurisdiction. The underlying action, brought in the circuit court of Cook County, seeks to enforce an indebtedness against certain guarantors, among them defendant Robert Knight; all other guarantors have appeared generally. Facts pertinent to our decision follow.

In January of 1979, North American Aviation Holdings, Ltd. (holding company), bought an 80% ownership interest in Walston Aviation Sales, Inc. (Walston), an aircraft dealership located in East Alton, Illinois. Defendant is one of three natural persons who own the holding company, and he resides in Florida. The purchase agreement provided for Walston's continued financing by plaintiff. Defendant stated during his deposition that he recalled discussing the guaranty only once, at plaintiff's Chicago, Illinois, office in January or February of 1979. Defendant telephoned the Walston office weekly in 1979 and 1980 and daily in 1981. He visited Walston's office several times in 1980, monthly in early 1981, and biweekly later in 1981. Defendant actively participated in the selection and removal of Walston's officers and reviewed Walston's marketing programs.

One of plaintiff's loan officers stated by way of affidavit that he and defendant, among others, attended a meeting on February 7, 1979, at which he advised defendant that any future financing of Walston required the execution of his personal guaranty. Plaintiff's loan officer gave defendant the guaranty agreement, which defendant executed in Florida and mailed to plaintiff in Chicago.

The guaranty agreement provides that it shall be governed by the laws of the State of Illinois, and pledges defendant's prompt payment of Walston's debts to plaintiff as evidenced by certain "demand notes." The notes are payable at plaintiff's office in Chicago, Illinois, and plaintiff alleges that the funds were disbursed from its Chicago office to Walston's office in East Alton.

Plaintiff filed its complaint in the circuit court of Cook County on June 11, 1982. Defendant appeared specially and presented his motion to quash service of process for lack of in personam jurisdiction on December 21, 1982. Following limited discovery, submission of memoranda, and argument, the trial court granted defendant's motion and dismissed the action as to him. On July 12, 1983, the trial court certified the order and plaintiff filed its notice of appeal.

OPINION

• 1 The sole issue in this appeal is whether defendant transacted business in Illinois which gave rise to plaintiff's cause of action so as to subject defendant to suit in the courts> of our State. Although defendant has not submitted an appellee's brief in this court, we will exercise our inherent power to decide the merits of this appeal in the interest of justice. (See First Capitol Mortgage Corp. v. Talandis Construction Corp. (1976), 63 Ill.2d 128, 345 N.E.2d 493.) Because we believe that the trial court took too narrow a view, and because we find ample transaction of business in the record to support in personam jurisdiction over defendant in Illinois, we hold that the trial court erred in quashing service and dismissing defendant from the case, and we reverse.

Section 2-209(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure (hereinafter the long-arm statute) provides in pertinent part:

"(a) 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 or her personal representative, to the jurisdiction of the courts> of this State as to any cause of action arising from the doing of any of such acts:

(1) The transaction of any business within this State; * * *." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-209(a).)

In Cook Associates, Inc. v. Lexington United Corp. (1981), 87 Ill.2d 190, 429 N.E.2d 847, our supreme court interpreted the substantially identical predecessor provision of the Civil Practice Act. The Cook court noted that Illinois' long-arm statute was not coextensive with the minimum contacts due process standard described in International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945), 326 U.S. 310, 90 L.Ed. 95, 66 S.Ct. 154; rather, the court suggested a twofold analysis of in personam jurisdiction. We should first look to the meaning of our statute or common law doctrine; only then should we reach the due process aspects of exercising jurisdiction. Cook Associates, Inc. v. Lexington United Corp. (1981), 87 Ill.2d 190, 197-98, 429 N.E.2d 847.

It is important to note that Cook represented no fundamental narrowing of the long-arm statute or retreat from its liberal construction (see Nelson v. Miller (1957), 11 Ill.2d 378, 143 N.E.2d 673), but merely observed that the statute's liberal purpose must be construed within its terms. (See Ronco, Inc. v. Plastics, Inc. (N.D. Ill. 1982), 539 F. Supp. 391, 398.) The Cook court held that no basis for jurisdiction existed where the negotiations which occurred in Illinois were unrelated to plaintiff's cause of action (Cook Associates, Inc. v. Lexington United Corp. (1981), 87 Ill.2d 190, 198, 429 N.E.2d 847), a result plain on the face of section 2-209(a).

A wide variety of factors have been considered in determining whether a defendant has transacted business in Illinois, three of which are relevant here. When a defendant comes to Illinois and engages in negotiations of some substance regarding the transaction from which the cause of action arises, then the defendant submits to jurisdiction under the long-arm statute. (See United Air Lines, Inc. v. Conductron Corp. (1979), 69 Ill. App.3d 847, 853-55, 387 N.E.2d 1272, and cases cited therein.) A defendant transacts business in Illinois when substantial performance of his or her contractual duties is to be rendered in Illinois. (See Tabor & Co. v. McNall (1975), 30 Ill. App.3d 593, 333 N.E.2d 562; Colony Press, Inc. v. Fleeman (1974), 17 Ill. App.3d 14, 18-19, 308 N.E.2d 78.) And a defendant who invokes the benefits and protections of Illinois law in the contractual relationship may be said to ...


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