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Hoekstra v. Bose

December 28, 1998

CHARLES J. HOEKSTRA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SOUMITRA BOSE AND KRISTI LINKE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable David R. Donnersberger, Judge Presiding

Plaintiff, Charles Hoekstra filed a personal injury action against defendants Soumitra Bose and Kristi Linke seeking damages for injuries plaintiff sustained in two separate automobile accidents with each defendant. Bose filed a motion to quash service. The trial court denied the motion. Bose then filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court granted. On appeal, plaintiff contends that: (1) the trial court erred in dismissing the cause for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to section 2-209(c) of the Illinois long-arm statute (735 ILCS 5/2-209(c) (West 1996)) because it is sufficient to permit the exercise of jurisdiction over defendant Bose based upon defendant's possession and use of an Illinois driver's license; (2) the trial court erred in dismissing the cause for lack of personal jurisdiction because the granting of an Illinois driver's license constitutes the transaction of business within the state pursuant to section 2-209(a)(1) of the Illinois long-arm statute (735 ILCS 5/2-209(a)(1)(West 1996)); and (3) defendant Bose is estopped from contending that he is not an Illinois resident or that Illinois does not have jurisdiction over him when he failed to comply with section 6-117 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/6-117(West 1996)), which requires an Illinois licensee to notify the driver's services department of the Secretary of State in writing of a change of address within 10 days.

For the following reasons, we affirm.

The facts relevant to this appeal are as follows. Plaintiff, a resident of Michigan, filed a two-count complaint alleging in count I that on June 25, 1994, he was involved in an automobile accident with Bose in the State of Michigan. Plaintiff further alleged that Bose failed to exercise reasonable care in the operation of the vehicle. Plaintiff sought damages in the amount of $50,000. Service of summons on Bose was made in Irvine, California, where he currently resides.

Following the accident, Bose gave the police an Illinois driver's license which indicated that he resided in Wheeling, Illinois. A driver's license abstract from the Secretary of State of Illinois indicated that Bose was a licensed driver in the State of Illinois from August 1992 through December 1996. The car rental agreement, which gave Bose authority to travel in Illinois, Michigan and Indiana, indicates that Bose presented an Illinois driver's license to rent the vehicle and provided a home address and phone number in Long Island, New York, on the car rental application.

Upon receiving notice of plaintiff's suit, Bose submitted a letter to the circuit court clerk of Cook County, in which he stated that he rented the vehicle from a rental car company in Michigan and that he was fully covered by the rental company's insurance plan and therefore, all claims should be directed to them. Bose also stated in the letter that he was not living in Wheeling, Illinois, at the time of the accident. Bose further stated that on the day of the accident, he was traveling to find an apartment near Battle Creek, Michigan, and that he found an apartment there soon after the accident.

Plaintiff's complaint also alleged that on November 20, 1994, he was travelling southbound on Illinois Route 50, Cicero Avenue, near the intersection of 127th Street in Alsip, Illinois. Linke was also travelling southbound on Route 50. Plaintiff was stopped at the intersection of 127th Street when Linke's vehicle collided with plaintiff's. Plaintiff alleged that Linke failed to exercise reasonable care in the operation of the motor vehicle. Plaintiff asked for judgment in the amount of $50,000. This case is not before us.

Bose filed a motion to quash jurisdiction pursuant to section 2-209 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. 735 ILCS 5/2-209 (West 1996). Bose argued that Illinois had no connection to the lawsuit and that he had not committed any acts required under section 2-209. Plaintiff filed a response and argued that Illinois had personal jurisdiction over Bose based upon section 2-209(c) (735 ILCS 5/2-209(c) (West 1996)) of the long-arm statute, which is a catch-all provision, and section 2-209(a) (735 ILCS 5/2-209(a)(1) (West 1996)), which confers personal jurisdiction through the transaction of business in the state.

The trial court initially denied Bose's motion to quash and found that there were sufficient minimum contacts with Illinois, citing Ores v. Kennedy, 218 Ill. App. 3d 866, 578 N.E.2d 1139 (1991). Bose filed a motion to reconsider and argued that the mere possession of an Illinois driver's license on the date of the accident was not tantamount to the requisite minimum contacts necessary to subject him to personal jurisdiction in Illinois. The trial court granted defendant's motion to reconsider, specifically finding that it did not have jurisdiction over Bose and dismissed plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff's timely appeal followed.

Plaintiff contends that personal jurisdiction over Bose is predicated upon sections 2-209(a)(1) and (c) of the Illinois long-arm statute, which provide:

"(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."

***

"(c) A court may also exercise jurisdiction on any other basis now or hereafter permitted by the Illinois Constitution and the Constitution of the United ...


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