United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
April 23, 2004.
MLP U.S.A., INC., A Delaware Corporation Plaintiff,
GOLDEN IMAGE GRAPHICS, a New York Corporation, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: WAYNE ANDERSEN, District Judge
MEMORANDUM, OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on defendant Golden Image Graphics's
("Golden Image") motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), For the following
reasons, the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is
Plaintiff MLP U.S.A., Inc. ("MLP") is a Delaware Corporation with its
principal place of business in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Defendant Golden
Image is a New York Corporation with its principal place of business in
Amityville, New York. Golden Image filed for arbitration in New York
under the panics' sales agreement alleging that the printing press it
purchased from MLP is defective. In the arbitration, Golden Image seeks
damages and rescission. A three member panel has been selected to preside
over the pending arbitration.
MLP then filed a two-count complaint against Golden Image in this Court
alleging breach of contract and seeking injunctive relief. In this
action, MLP alleges that it entered into a sales agreement with Golden Image for the sale of one Mitsubishi printing
press and auxiliary equipment. The complaint alleges that Golden Image
has failed to make certain payments required under the Agreement. MLP
claims that Golden Image is in default of the Agreement and seeks damages
and immediate possession of the equipment,
Golden Image now seeks to dismiss MLP's complaint for lack of personal
When a defendant files a motion to dismiss a case for lack of personal
jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the
existence of personal jurisdiction over the defendant. RAR, Inc. v.
Turner Diesel, Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1276 (7th Cir. 1997). In assessing
such a motion, the allegations in the complaint are to be taken as true
unless controverted by a defendant's affidavit, and any conflicts are to
be resolved in favor of plaintiff. Turnock v. Cope, 816 F.2d 332, 333
(7th Cir. 1987).
This Court cannot exercise jurisdiction over a defendant if it is
improper under either the United States or Illinois Constitution, Brandon
Apparel Group, Inc. v. Quitman Mfg. Co. Inc., 42 F. Supp.2d 821 (N.D.
Ill. 1999), Because "there is no operative difference between the limits
imposed by the Illinois Constitution and the federal limitations on
personal jurisdiction," Hyatt Intern. Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 715
(7th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted), this Court will address a single due
process inquiry. Janmark, Inc. v. Reidy, 132 F.3d 1200, 1202 (7th Cir.
1997), The United States Constitution's limitation on the exercise of
personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant is through the due
process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. RAR, 107 F.3d at 1277. In
order for a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant, due process requires that the defendant have "certain minimum
contacts with [the state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not
offend `traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice,'" Id.,
quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). A
court can acquire personal jurisdiction over a defendant through either
general or specific jurisdiction.
A defendant is subject to general jurisdiction in Illinois only when it
is either domiciled in Illinois, Euromarket Designs, Inc. v. Crate &
Barrel Ltd., 96 F. Supp.2d 824, 833 (N.D. Ill. 2000), or when "the
defendant has continuous and systematic general business contacts with
the forum." MR, Inc., 107 F.3d at 1277 (citation and internal quotations
omitted). MLP has not alleged that Golden Image has any offices or
employees in Illinois or that Golden Image has continuous and systematic
business contacts with Illinois. Thus, there is no basis for this Court
to exercise general jurisdiction over Golden Image.
Alternatively, a defendant is subject to specific jurisdiction when it
has "purposefully established minimum contacts with the forum State."
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476-77 (1985). In
determining whether a defendant has sufficient minimum contacts with
Illinois, courts should consider whether the defendant could "reasonably
anticipate being hauled into court" in Illinois. See World-Wide
Volkswagen Corp. v. Wooden, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). "An oat-of-state
party's contract with an in-state party is alone not enough to establish
the minimum contacts." RAR. Inc., 107 F.3d at 1277.
The facts of this case as established in the complaint and affidavits
submitted in connection with the motion to dismiss show that Golden Image
was approached by a Mitsubishi salesman in New York who demonstrated the
equipment in New York. Golden Image signed the sales agreement in New York and had no contacts with the State of
Illinois in the formation of the Agreement, The equipment was delivered
to, and installed in, New York.
The Agreement contemplated that all payments from Golden Image to MLP
would be sent to Illinois. The Agreement contained a provision indicating
that it was to be governed by Illinois law. Moreover, the Agreement
apparently became effective when the last party signed it, and it was
last signed by MLP in Illinois, No services were performed in Illinois.
As mentioned above, MLP bears the burden to demonstrate that personal
jurisdiction exists over Golden Image in this Court. The only facts
alleged from which any reasonable inference of forum contacts could be
drawn are: 1) the existence of a contract with an Illinois company; 2)
the obligation to mail payments to an Illinois address; 3) an Illinois
choice-of-law provision; and 4) MLP's final execution of the Agreement in
These same four contacts were present in Telco. Leaning, Inc. v.
Marshall County Hospital, 586 F.2d 49 (7th Cir. 1978). In that case, the
Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that such contacts
were insufficient as a matter of law to satisfy the Due Process Clause.
Following the Seventh Circuit's holding in Telco Leasing, we believe that
MLP has failed to meet its prima facie burden of establishing
MLP also attempts to establish personal jurisdiction over Golden linage
by pointing out contacts Golden linage had with the State of Illinois
after execution of the Agreement and after delivery of the equipment.
Specifically, MLP argues that a single trip to Illinois by David
Bernstein, the President of Golden Image, is enough to confer personal
jurisdiction. However, Mr. Bernstein came to Illinois in an attempt to
resolve issues surrounding the alleged malfunctioning of the equipment
which MLP delivered. This single trip to Illinois, arising out of unexpected defects in the original equipment resulted in a swap of
one defective printing press for another. This action docs not suffice to
confer personal jurisdiction over Golden Image in Illinois for the
purpose of a suit against it under the original Agreement. The parties
never contemplated that Golden Image, in the course of performance under
this Agreement, would have any contacts with the State of Illinois expect
for mailing its payments here,
It does not comport with lair play and substantial justice to say that
Golden Image has submitted to the jurisdiction of Illinois courts by
virtue of post hoc communications and a single in-state trip in an effort
to repair a malfunctioning machine and with the goal of settling disputes
and avoiding litigation. See Jadair, Inc. v. Walt Keeler Co., 679 F.2d 131,
134 (7th Cir. 1982); Dispensa v. Aksjeselskapet Storebrand-Gruppen, 1983
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14737 at * 11 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 10, 1983), We find that
Golden Image has had minimal, isolated, subsequent contacts with Illinois
to correct defects in the equipment. To hold otherwise would subject
Golden Image to suit in Illinois for making a good faith attempt to save
the contract. See, INS Int'l Corp. v. M.L Mktg. Co., 1993 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS4729 at * 10-11 (N.D. Ill. Apr, 13, 1993).
In sum, we find that MLP has failed to allege sufficient facts to
support a finding of personal jurisdiction over Golden Image. The facts
alleged by MLP to support a finding of personal jurisdiction are
precisely the same factors that were considered and rejected by the
Seventh Circuit as patently insufficient for purposes of personal
jurisdiction. Thus, there is no basis for this Court to exercise personal
jurisdiction over Golden Image. CONCLUSION
For all of the foregoing reason, Golden Image's motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction is granted. This case is hereby terminated.
It is so ordered.
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