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LEONARDO'S, INC. v. GREATHALL

May 31, 1989

LEONARDO'S, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
GREATHALL, LTD., RICHARD SHAPIRO, and BONNIE SHAPIRO, Defendants


Brian Barnett Duff, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUFF

BRIAN BARNETT DUFF, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Plaintiff Leonardo's, Inc. ("Leonardo") brings this diversity action against Greathall, Ltd. ("Greathall"), Richard Shapiro ("Richard") and Bonnie Shapiro ("Bonnie") for breach of contract and fraud. The defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction, and in the alternative, to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ┬ž 1404(a). The motion will be denied.

 FACTS

 The facts relevant to this motion are not in dispute, and come from the complaint as well as affidavits attached to the motion and response. Richard Hirsch ("Hirsch") is an Illinois resident. In 1981, he created Leonardo, an Illinois corporation. His corporation runs concessions at state fairs.

 Richard and Bonnie are Minnesota residents. In 1971, they incorporated Greathall, a Wisconsin corporation, for the purpose of operating a summer Renaissance festival in the northern Illinois area. They christened the festival King Richard's Faire, and held the first one in the summer of 1972. From 1972 to 1974 the festival took place in Gurnee, Illinois, just a few miles south of the Wisconsin border. In 1975, they moved the fair to Bristol, Wisconsin.

 From 1972 to late 1983, Robert Rogers served as General Manager of the fair. Rogers lived in Lake Forest, Illinois, and established an office, bank account, mailing address and phone number for the fair in Illinois. He also recruited Illinois concessionaires for the fair.

 In late 1983, Rogers left Greathall's employ. Shortly thereafter, Greathall closed its Illinois office, bank account, and post office box. It retained the Illinois mailing address for informational purposes, and continued to do a substantial amount of advertising in the Chicago area.

 When Rogers left, Richard took over management of the fair. In December, 1983, he contacted Hirsch and other concessionaires, requesting a meeting in Chicago to negotiate contracts for the coming season. After a series of negotiations, Greathall and Leonardo entered into a multi-year contract for the 1984, 1985 and 1986 seasons. During those three years, Leonardo operated lemonade stands at the fair.

 When the contract expired, Richard telephoned Hirsch from Minnesota, and they agreed to a contract for the 1987 season nearly identical to the previous one. Richard mailed it to Hirsch in Illinois for his signature.

 The 1987 fair did not do well. On December 2, 1987, Richard wrote to Hirsch, noted that 1987 had been a poor year for the fair, and indicated hopes for improvement in 1988. He also enclosed a contract for the 1988 fair, and told Hirsch that Leonardo's fees for the 1988 fair were due in Greathall's office by December 31. The contract again was nearly identical to the previous contracts, and stated that the fair would take place on the same location as the previous year. It also provided that it would be governed by Wisconsin law.

 Hirsch executed the contract, and on December 22 sent Greathall $ 18,000 to reserve Leonardo's place in the 1988 fair. The fair never came. As it turns out, Greathall had stopped making payment on the fair's property in July, 1987 and had entered into a default foreclosure consent decree on July 14, 1987 relinquishing its rights to the property. Greathall did not refund Leonardo's $ 18,000, so Leonardo sued Greathall and the Shapiros for breach of contract and fraud. The defendants have moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, or in the alternative, to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

 DISCUSSIO ...


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