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09/29/88 Floyd Wiles, v. Morita Iron Works Company

September 29, 1988

FLOYD WILES, APPELLEE

v.

MORITA IRON WORKS COMPANY, LTD., APPELLANT



SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

530 N.E.2d 1382, 125 Ill. 2d 144, 125 Ill. Dec. 812 1988.IL.1477

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Thomas Rakowski, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE STAMOS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CLARK

This appeal arises out of an action grounded in strict liability and negligence brought in the circuit court of Cook County. The plaintiff, Floyd Wiles, brought the action against the defendant, Morita Iron Works Company, Ltd. (hereinafter MIW), a Japanese corporation not licensed to do business in Illinois. The defendant filed a special and limited appearance and a motion to dismiss, challenging the in personam jurisdiction of the court, pursuant to the Illinois long arm statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-209). The motion was supported by the affidavit of Motoo Morita, the defendant's president. The trial court quashed the service of process on the defendant and dismissed the defendant from this action. The appellate court reversed the trial court's order(152 Ill. App. 3d 782), holding that the defendant is properly subject to in personam jurisdiction in Illinois. We granted the defendant's petition for leave to appeal under Rule 315 (107 Ill. 2d R. 315).

The facts relevant to this appeal are as follows. The plaintiff's employer, Astro Packaging Company (hereinafter Astro), is a corporation which operates plants in Hawthorne, New Jersey, and Alsip, Illinois. Astro purchased four "air cell former" machines from MIW in Japan. Astro shipped two of the machines to its New Jersey plant and two machines to its Illinois plant. It was one of the two machines sent to the Illinois plant which allegedly caused personal injuries to the plaintiff, for which the plaintiff now seeks damages from the defendant.

In his complaint the plaintiff alleged that the defendant manufactured, designed, and sold the air cell former in question, and that on April 11, 1983, the plaintiff was injured while cleaning the machine pursuant to his employment duties at Astro. In its motion to dismiss, the defendant admitted that it manufactured the machine and that all four of the machines were delivered into the possession of the plaintiff's employer in Japan, and stated that it was "entirely fortuitous" that two of the four machines were shipped by Astro to Illinois from Japan. The affidavit filed by Motoo Morita, the defendant's president, in support of its motion to dismiss, revealed that MIW was primarily engaged in the business of manufacturing machinery used to make springs for automobiles. According to Morita, MIW has made a total of only nine air cell formers, four of which were purchased by Astro. None of the five remaining air cell formers were used in the United States. Morita further stated that the four machines purchased by Astro were delivered into the custody of Astro agents in Japan, and that Astro transported the machines from Japan. Morita also alleged that "MIW is informed and believes that two of the air cell formers were transported by Astro Packaging Co. to Alsip, Illinois."

The affidavit disclosed that the negotiations for the purchase of the four air cell formers between Astro and MIW took place at the following locations and times:

September 22 and 23, 1980 Monchengladbach,

West Germany

September 17 -- 19, 1980 Hawthorne, New Jersey

July 21 -- 23, 1981 MIW plant, Japan

September 24, 1981 Hawthorne, New Jersey

January 25 -- 27, 1982 MIW plant, Japan

April 27 -- May 1, 1982 MIW ...


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