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Allied Van Lines, Inc. v. Beaman

July 21, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge


Marilyn Beaman moved from Texas to Canada using Allied Van Lines. Ms. Beaman sued entities related to Allied in Canada, and Allied filed suit in this district. Ms. Beaman failed to answer or otherwise defend this suit, so Allied's motion for a default judgment -- which seeks an anti-suit injunction enjoining Ms. Beaman from pursuing the Canadian action -- is before the court. For the following reasons, this action is dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.

I. Background

Allied Van Lines, Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Westmont, Illinois. Marilyn Beaman is a citizen of Canada and currently resides in the City of Saskatoon, Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. In May of 2004, Ms. Beaman entered into a contract with Allied for the interstate transportation of her household goods from Texas to Saskatoon. The bill of lading, which is attached to the complaint, indicates that Ms. Beaman dealt with Allied via two of its agents: Berger Transfer & Storage's Austin, Texas office and Country Wide Moving & Storage, in Saskatoon, Canada. Later that month, some of Ms. Beaman's property was delivered to her in Saskatoon and the rest was placed into Country Wide Moving & Storage's storage facility in Saskatoon.

In August of 2004, Ms. Beaman picked up the items that had been in storage. She then submitted a claim to Allied, alleging that some of her property was missing or damaged and seeking over $78,000. Allied adjusted the claim and offered a modest settlement, which Ms. Beaman rejected. Ms. Beaman then asked Allied if it would enter into arbitration. Allied agreed, but Ms. Beaman did not proceed with arbitration. Instead, she filed a Statement of Claim in the Court of the Queen's Bench for the Judicial Centre of Saskatoon, Canada against L.B.C. Holdings Ltd. d/b/a Country Wide Moving & Storage, Allied Van Lines Ltd., and Allied Van Lines International Corporation seeking $140,450.00 for damages to her property. The Statement of Claim does not name Allied Van Lines, Inc., which is the plaintiff in this action, as a defendant.

Next, Allied filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in this district. Subsequently, it filed an amended complaint for declaratory judgment seeking a declaration that the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, exclusively governs this action and that Ms. Beaman is entitled to $1,220 in damages related to her move. Allied also asked the court to enter an anti-suit injunction enjoining Ms. Beaman from filing suit against Allied in Canada. In its motion for default judgment, Allied specified that it seeks only an injunction enjoining Ms. Beaman from "pursuing any further litigation in Canada against [Allied] related to the loss or damage of her household goods and property." See Allied's Memorandum in Support of its Motion for Default Judgment, Docket No. 27 at 3.

II. Discussion

A. The Carmack Amendment

Allied contends that because the Carmack Amendment governs shipments between the United States and Canada, this court can exercise personal jurisdiction over Ms. Beaman because Allied is headquartered in Illinois. This argument appears to be based on the Carmack Amendment's venue provisions, which provide that an action must be brought either in a state in which a defendant carrier operates or in a judicial district where the damage occurred. See 49 U.S.C. § 14706(d)(1) & (2).

Venue, however, is not the same thing as personal jurisdiction. Thus, while the Carmack "Amendment allows actions to be brought in two potentially different venues, the statute's specific venue provisions are not a substitute for personal jurisdiction - the court must still ensure at the outset that it has the power to compel the defendant to appear in its court." Winona Foods, Inc. v. Timothy J. Kennedy, Inc., No. 07-C-1003, 2008 WL 2570600 at *2 (E.D. Wis. Jun. 26, 2008).

Under Rule 4(k)(2), "For a claim that arises under federal law, serving a summons or filing a waiver of service establishes personal jurisdiction over a defendant if: (A) the defendant is not subject to the jurisdiction in any state's courts of general jurisdiction; and (B) exercising jurisdiction is consistent with the United States Constitution and laws." This provision was enacted to "cover persons who do not reside in the United States, and have ample contacts with the nation as a whole, but whose contacts are so scattered among states that none of them would have jurisdiction." ISI Intern., Inc. v. Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, 256 F.3d 548, 551 (7th Cir. 2001) (interpreting former Rule 4(k)(2)). This means that personal jurisdiction in federal question cases is proper based merely on personal service only if a defendant is neither subject to the jurisdiction of a state court in Illinois nor subject to the jurisdiction of any court of general jurisdiction of any other state. See id.

B. Is Ms. Beaman Subject to the Jurisdiction of Any State Court of General Jurisdiction?

The court must thus consider whether Ms. Beaman is subject to personal jurisdiction in Texas, where her move originated, or Illinois, where Allied is based. As noted above, if any state court of general jurisdiction can exercise personal jurisdiction over Ms. Beaman, then Rule 4(k)(2) -- which provides that in federal question cases, personal jurisdiction exists over a defendant who is not subject to the jurisdiction in any ...

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