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07/20/89 Japax, Inc., v. Sodick Company Limited Et

July 20, 1989

JAPAX, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

SODICK COMPANY LIMITED ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Before dismissing a lawsuit on grounds of forum non conveniens , the trial court must weigh a variety of factors and conclude that the balance strongly favors the defendant. (E.g., Meyers v. Bridgeport Machines Division of Textron, Inc. (1986), 113 Ill. 2d 112, 497 N.E.2d 745.) The trial court has broad discretion in balancing the factors. (E.g., McClain v. Illinois Central Gulf R.R. Co. (1988), 121 Ill. 2d 278, 520 N.E.2d 368.) However, the plaintiff's choice of forum generally is entitled to extra consideration. See Stone Container Corp. v. Industrial Risk Insurers (1980), 91 Ill. App. 3d 807, 414 N.E.2d 1227.

APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

542 N.E.2d 792, 186 Ill. App. 3d 656, 134 Ill. Dec. 446 1989.IL.1126

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LINN delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and McMORROW, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINN

Plaintiff, Japax, Inc., appeals from the dismissal of its action against defendants, Sodick Company Limited (Sodick Japan) and Sodick, Inc. (Sodick USA). Sodick Japan successfully moved to dismiss the complaint against it on the ground that the Illinois trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over the Japanese corporation. Sodick USA successfully moved to dismiss the action against it on the grounds of forum non conveniens.

Japax contends that this court should conduct a de novo review of the record and reverse the orders of the trial court. Specifically, Japax argues that the trial court erred in refusing to permit Japax to take limited discovery on the jurisdictional issues and to correct misrepresentations that defendants made in their affidavits. Alternatively, Japax requests this court to hold, based upon the record, that the trial court's rulings on both the jurisdictional matter and the forum non conveniens issue were erroneous as a matter of law.

We reverse and remand.

BACKGROUND

In October 1987 Japax, a Japanese corporation, filed suit against defendants, charging them with intentional interference with contractual and business relationships, negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. It seeks both damages and a preliminary injunction.

The parties compete in the same business, which is the manufacture and sale or servicing of electrical discharge machinery . These machines are used to erode extremely hard metals through a series of electrical spark discharges.

Sodick USA is the wholly owned distributor of Sodick Japan. Sodick Japan manufactures its EDM systems in Japan to companies who then sell them in the United States. Sodick USA services these systems.

Japax claims that defendants misappropriated Japax's trade secrets and interfered with a distributor agreement between Japax and its exclusive United States distributor, Bridgeport Machines, Inc. This agreement provided that Bridgeport would distribute Japax's EDM equipment for a period of years. Two years before the expiration of the term of the agreement, Bridgeport informed Japax that it had conducted negotiations with Sodick Japan and would begin selling Sodick EDM systems to Japax's customers instead of Japax EDM systems.

Japax filed an emergency motion for expedited discovery seeking to develop facts to support a preliminary injunction on October 29, 1987. Sodick USA filed a memorandum in opposition to the motion on the morning of the hearing, November 2. At the time, Sodick Japan had not been served with summons. At the hearing, Sodick USA's attorney represented to the court that Sodick USA opposed the motion for expedited discovery on the basis that defendants intended to move for dismissal of the complaint for, among other things, lack of personal jurisdiction (over Sodick Japan) and failure to state a cause of action. The trial court denied the discovery motion, noting that motions to dismiss tested the sufficiency of the pleadings and as such did not require any discovery.

Three days later, Japax moved for leave to file an amended complaint alleging further facts in support of personal jurisdiction. The court allowed the motion on November 10, 1987, after which Sodick filed a form special and limited appearance. On December 8, 1987, Sodick Japan filed a motion to quash summons for lack of personal jurisdiction and Sodick USA filed ...


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