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Maverick Technologies v. Shelton

March 5, 2008


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


Before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc. 14), to which plaintiff has filed a response (Doc. 16), and defendant a reply (Doc. 17).


Plaintiff, Maverick Technologies, LLC ("Maverick"), is an engineering, programming, and systems integration firm. In June of 2000,*fn1 Maverick hired the defendant, Andrew Shelton ("Shelton"), as a Regional Director of the firm. Because Shelton's work required him to have access to confidential and proprietary information, such as customer lists, pricing information, and business processes, Maverick required Shelton to sign a Confidentiality and Non-Solicitation Agreement prior to his hiring, which he did. Eventually, Shelton was promoted to Vice President of Maverick, which gave him direct access to and responsibility over clients, including Honeywell International. In July of 2007, Shelton terminated his employment with Maverick. Soon thereafter, he entered into employment with Honeywell International, which Maverick considers to be a direct competitor.

In March of 2007, Maverick filed a four-count complaint in the Circuit Court of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, Monroe County, Illinois, against Shelton, seeking: (1) injunctive relief against further breaches of the Confidentiality and Non-Solicitation Agreement; (2) damages for breach of the Confidentiality and Non-Solicitation Agreement; (3) enjoinment and damages for misappropriation of trade secrets; and (4) damages for breach of fiduciary duty. Shelton timely removed the action to this court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441.

The record reveals that Maverick is a Missouri Limited Liability Company duly authorized as a foreign corporation in Illinois, with its primary place of business in Illinois. Shelton is a full-time resident of the state of Texas and has lived there continuously throughout his employment with Maverick. Shelton was initially interviewed by Maverick's President and CEO, Paul Galeski, via telephone, Galeski calling from Maverick's Illinois office to Shelton in Texas. Both the Employment Agreement and the Confidentiality and Non-Solicitation Agreement entered into by the parties denote Missouri law as the choice of law to govern the agreements. The notice provisions of both agreements list Maverick's address as Fairview Heights, Illinois, and Shelton's address as El Lago, Texas.

Throughout his employment, Shelton regularly communicated and transacted business with Maverick's Illinois office and traveled there once or twice a year for business meetings. Shelton does not own real property, maintain any bank accounts, pay state taxes, or vote in the state of Illinois. Shelton's current employment is in Texas. Since leaving Maverick, Shelton has had no further contact with the state of Illinois.


Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Under Rule 12(b)(2), the plaintiff has the burden of alleging sufficient facts to support jurisdiction. Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). A court may receive and consider affidavits from both parties in deciding the motion. Id. Any factual conflicts between the parties are to be resolved in favor of the plaintiff, however the Court takes as true facts contained in the defendant's affidavit that are not refuted by the plaintiff. Id. at 783; RAR, Inc v. Turner Diesel, Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1275 (7th Cir. 1997).

In a case of diversity of citizenship, "a federal district court sitting in Illinois has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant only if an Illinois court would have jurisdiction." Glass v. Kemper Corp., 930 F. Supp. 332, 337 (N.D. Ill. 1996) (citing Daniel J. Hartwig Assoc., Inc. v. Kanner, 913 F.2d 1213, 1216 (7th Cir. 1990)). A two-part inquiry is necessary to determine whether an Illinois court has jurisdiction: (1) whether Illinois' long-arm statute allows in personam jurisdiction, and (2) whether the assertion of jurisdiction under the long-arm statute complies with due process. Id. See, Purdue Research, 338 F.3d at 779; First Nat'l Bank v. El Camino Resources, Ltd., 447 F. Supp.2d 902, 905 (N.D. Ill. 2006).

Under Illinois' long-arm statute, Illinois courts may exercise jurisdiction for any reason permitted by the Illinois Constitution and United States Constitution. 735 ILCS 5/2-209(c). "[T]here is no operative difference between the limits imposed by the Illinois Constitution and the federal limitations on personal jurisdiction." Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 715 (7th Cir. 2002).

Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant "certain minimum contacts" with the state are required so that "the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" See RAR, Inc., 107 F.3d at 1277 (quoting Int'l Shoe Co v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). The purpose of the minimum contacts requirement is to ensure that the defendant has purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting activity within the forum state and therefore can reasonably foresee being subject to a suit in the state. Hartwig, 913 F.2d at 1217-18. The minimum contacts requirement differs depending on whether the plaintiff asserts general or specific jurisdiction. United Financial, 245 F. Supp.2d at 891.

I. Specific Jurisdiction

Specific jurisdiction is appropriate where the particular suit at hand "aris[es] out of or relate[s] to the defendant's contacts with the forum." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985). Specific jurisdiction is distinguishable from general jurisdiction in that it considers the subject matter of the present litigation. Thus, Shelton's contacts with the state ...

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