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Dupree v. Greyhound Lines

February 11, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge


This matter is before the Court on Defendant Delta Bus Lines' Motion to Dismiss [DE 8] for lack of personal jurisdiction, filed on July 11, 2007. For the following reasons, the Court grants Delta Bus Lines' Motion to Dismiss [DE 8].

I. Background

On April 11, 2007, Delores Dupree, a resident of Illinois, filed a single-count Complaint against Greyhound Lines, Inc. ("Greyhound") and Delta Bus Lines ("Delta") in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, alleging general negligence arising out of a motor vehicle accident. On June 22, 2007, Delta removed the action to this Court, and on July 11, 2007, Delta moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of personal jurisdiction According to the allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint, on July 30, 2005, Ms. Dupree was traveling through Tennessee, as a passenger on a bus driven by Willie Kemp, when the bus collided with a car. Dupree alleges that on July 30, 2005, and for a long time prior to that date, Greyhound and Delta were common carriers in the business of transporting passengers and that Willie Kemp was an "agent and servant" of Defendants Greyhound and Delta. She does not allege which company employed Kemp, nor does she allege who owned and operated the bus on which she was riding when the accident occurred.

Dupree also alleges that she contracted with Greyhound, in Chicago, to transport her from Chicago to Mississippi. In her response to Delta's Motion to Dismiss, she attached a copy of her "RECEIPT & ITINERARY," demonstrating that on July 29, 2005, she purchased from Greyhound Lines, Inc. a round trip ticket from Chicago to Mississippi in the amount of $118.00. Dupree's travels took her from Chicago to Effingham, Illinois, from Effingham to Sikeston, Missouri, and from Sikeston to Memphis, Tennessee. There, she boarded a Delta bus bound for Greenville, Mississippi. From what the Court can glean from the parties' filings, it was on that leg of the trip that Dupree was injured.

Delta is incorporated in the State of Mississippi and has its principal place of business in the State of Mississippi. On April 26, 2007, Joseph Howard, the President and operator of Delta, was personally served with a copy of the Summons and Complaint in Greenville, Mississippi. In support of its Motion to Dismiss, Delta submitted the affidavit of Howard, in which he attests that Delta provides intercity transportation services to and from three destinations, including Jackson, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that Delta has never provided intercity transportation services to, from or through any part of Illinois. He also states that Delta has never maintained an office in Illinois, owned, used, or possessed any real property situated in Illinois, made or performed any contract substantially connected with Illinois, hired any employees in Illinois, advertised its services to Illinois residents, or otherwise done any business in Illinois.

II. Analysis

When personal jurisdiction over a defendant is challenged by way of a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists and must make a prima facie case of jurisdiction. See Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002). When a court decides a motion on the basis of paper submissions, a court accepts as true the plaintiff's undisputed allegations, and disputes in the evidence are resolved in favor of jurisdiction. See, e.g., Purdue Research Foundation v. SanofiSynthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). However, the Seventh Circuit has cautioned that "once the defendant has submitted affidavits or other evidence in opposition to the exercise of jurisdiction, the plaintiff must go beyond the pleadings and submit affirmative evidence supporting the exercise of jurisdiction." Id. at 783.

When a court's subject matter jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship -- as in this matter -- the court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant only if personal jurisdiction would be proper in an Illinois court. See Hyatt Int'l, 302 F.3d at 713. Accordingly, the court looks to the Illinois long-arm statute, which contains a "catch-all" provision allowing Illinois state courts to assert personal jurisdiction to the maximum extent permitted by the Illinois and United States Constitutions. See735 ILCS 5/2-209(c); see also Hyatt Int'l, 302 F.3d at 714. Although the United States and Illinois Constitutions do not contain identical due process guarantees, the Seventh Circuit has opined that "there is no operative difference between the limits imposed by the Illinois Constitution and the federal limitations on personal jurisdiction." Hyatt Int'l, 302 F.3d at 715. Given this direction, the Court moves directly to the federal constitutional inquiry -- whether exercising personal jurisdiction over Delta comports with federal due process protections. Id. at 714-15.

Under the Due Process Clause, before an out-of-state defendant may be required to defend a case in the forum state, it must have "minimum contacts" with the state "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). "[I]t is essential in each case that there be some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958). This "purposeful availment" standard ensures that a nonresident defendant will not be forced to litigate in a jurisdiction as a result of random contacts with the forum or the unilateral activity of the plaintiff. Burger King v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474-75 (1985).

There are two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-16 (1984); see also Hyatt Int'l, 302 F.3d at 713. General jurisdiction exists when the defendant has "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum state. Helicopteros, 466 U.S. at 416; Hyatt Int'l, 302 F.3d at 713. If such contacts exist, "the court may exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant even in cases that do not arise out of and are not related to the defendant's forum contacts." Hyatt Int'l, 302 F.3d at 713. On the other hand, specific jurisdiction is more limited and exists for controversies that "arise out of" or "relate to" a defendant's forum contacts. Id. Here, Dupree contends that Delta is subject to both specific and general jurisdiction. The Court turns first to Dupree's contention that Delta is subject to specific jurisdiction.

A court may assert specific jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant when the minimum contacts standard is met and the plaintiff's cause of action arises out of or relates to the defendant's contacts with the forum state. E.g., Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 (1984). The defendant's contacts with the forum state must be of a nature and quality such that the defendant has fair warning that it could be required to defend a suit there. Burger King Corp. v. Rudziewicz, 471 U.S. 462 (1985). This ensures that jurisdiction over a defendant is "not based on fortuitous contacts, but on contacts that demonstrate a real relationship with the state with respect to the transaction at issue" and that "the defendant retains sufficient, albeit minimal, ability to structure its activities so that it can reasonably anticipate the jurisdictions in which it will be required to answer for its conduct." Purdue Research Found., 338 F.3d at 780. "Notably, it must be the activity of the defendant that makes it amenable to jurisdiction, not the unilateral activity of the plaintiff or some other entity." Id.

Dupree can establish specific jurisdiction if she can show that Delta could have anticipated being hailed into this Court with respect to an accident that occurred in Tennessee. Dupree maintains that when she purchased her bus ticket from Chicago, Illinois to Greenville, Mississippi, she entered into a contract with both Delta and Greyhound. She points out that the ticket was paid for in Illinois and delivered to her in Illinois. She argues that Greyhound serves as Delta's agent in Illinois, through which Delta solicits business in Illinois for travel to Tennessee and Mississippi. Based on these considerations, Dupree argues that hailing Delta into an Illinois court would be both fair and reasonable.

However, the sparse factual allegations and other "affirmative evidence supporting the exercise of jurisdiction" provided by Dupree do not permit such a conclusion. Purdue Research Foundation, 338 F.3d at 783. Dupree has not alleged that Delta has any offices, employees, real property, mailing addresses, or bank accounts in Illinois. Cf. Cooper v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 1994 WL 701993, *3 (S.D.N.Y. December 14, 1994) (finding no jurisdiction over Virginia bus company that had no offices, telephone listings, mailing addresses, employees, real property, or bank accounts in New York). Nor does she contend that Delta advertises its services in Illinois or that any employee of Delta was ever physically present in Illinois with respect to any aspect of the relevant accident, which occurred in Tennessee. Cf. ...

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