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WILLARD v. INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY

September 18, 2003

ROY WILLARD AND JENNIFER WILLARD, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne Conlon, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Roy and Jennifer Willard sue Ingersoll-Rand Co. (Ingersoll-Rand) in strict liability and in negligence for damages connected with an injury Roy Willard suffered while using an air compressor manufactured by Ingersoll-Rand. Specifically, Roy Willard alleges that his damages were a result of the air compressor being defective and unreasonably dangerous (Counts I and IV). Jennifer Willard claims she is entitled to damages authorized by the Illinois Family Expense Act (Counts II and V) and for loss of consortium (Counts III and VI).

This action was originally filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Roy Willard and Jennifer Willard v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., Case No. 03 L 006771. Ingersoll-Rand removed this case to the Northern District of Illinois pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The removal was proper because this court would have original jurisdiction over the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).*fn1 Ingersoll-Rand subsequently filed this motion to dismiss, arguing: (1) lack of personal jurisdiction [ Page 2]

pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2); (2) the action is barred by the statute of limitations, and (3) the action should be dismissed under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

BACKGROUND

The Willards and Ingersoll-Rand submitted evidence to support their positions on personal jurisdiction. In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Willards bear the burden of demonstrating the existence of personal jurisdiction. RAR, Inc. v. Turner Diesel 107F, 3d 1272, 1276 (7th Cir. 1997). Once personal jurisdiction has been challenged under Rule 12(b)(2), the Willards must make out a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction. Tobinfor Governor v. Illinois State Bd. of Elections, 268 F.3d 517, 521 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 712-13 (7th Cir. 2002). To that end, the court accepts all well-pleaded jurisdictional allegations in the complaint as true unless controverted by affidavit. Turnock v. Cope, 816 F.2d 332, 333 (7th Cir. 1987); see also Hyatt Int'l Corp., 302 F.3d at 712-13. Any conflict presented by affidavit must be resolved in the Willards' favor. Hyatt Int'l Corp., 302 F.3d at 712-13. Unrefuted facts offered by Ingersoll-Rand, however, will be accepted as true. Facilitec Corp. v. Grease Stopper, Inc., No. 01 C 2971, 2002 WL 226758, at *2 (N.D. 111. Feb. 13, 2002).

In 1981, Ingersoll-Rand manufactured an air compressor in Davidson, North Carolina. The air compressor was then sold and shipped to Ingersoll-Rand Overseas Co. in Trappes, France. Eventually, the air compressor came into the control of Roy Willard's employer, Aqua Air Pvt. Ltd. of Zimbabwe. On June 19, 2000, while he was checking for oil leaks, Willard's left hand was sucked into the air compressor's cooling fan. His left hand was partially amputated.

Roy Willard applied for and received workman's compensation. He also entered into negotiations with Ingersoll-Rand to pursue further compensation. He then sought counsel in the [ Page 3]

United States. He filed this action in the Circuit Court of Cook County on June 5, 2003, almost three years after the accident.

DISCUSSION

I. Personal Jurisdiction

Ingersoll-Rand first argues that the Willards' suit should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). A federal district court sitting in diversity has personal jurisdiction "only if a court of the state in which it sits would have such jurisdiction." Klump v. Duffus, 71 F.3d 1368, 1371 (7th Cir. 1995); Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e). To establish personal jurisdiction, the Willards must establish Ingersoll-Rand satisfies one of the provisions of the Illinois long-arm statute, 735 ILCS 5/2-209, and that Ingersoll-Rand purposefully established minimum contacts with Illinois that satisfy both state and federal due process. See RAR, Inc., 107 F.3d at 1276.

The Illinois long-arm statute contains both a list of particular, enumerated grounds for jurisdiction and a catch-all provision that authorizes the exercise of personal jurisdiction on any basis "now or hereafter permitted by the Illinois Constitution and the Constitution of the United States." 735 ILCS 5/2-209(c); see Hyatt Int'l Corp., 302 F.3d at 714. In application, the reach of Illinois' long arm statute terminates at the boundaries created by state and federal due process requirements. See id.; see also Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Reimer Express World Corp., 230 F.3d 934, 940 (7th Cir. 2000). Therefore the inquiry "collapses into two constitutional inquiries-one state and one federal." RAR 107 F.3d at 1276.

The Illinois Supreme Court has held that the due process requirements imposed by the Illinois Constitution and United States Constitution are not necessarily equivalent. Rollins v. Ellwood, 141 III.2d 244, 271, 565 N.E.2d 1302, 1314 ...


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