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Wells v. Edison International

July 1, 2009

WILLIAM WELLS, JOHN PETRUSEK, PASQUAL ORTIZ PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EDISON INTERNATIONAL, INC., EDISON MISSION GROUP, INC., EDISON MISSION ENERGY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Edison International, Inc.'s (Edison International), Defendant Edison Mission Group, Inc.'s (EMG), and Defendant Edison Mission Energy's (EME) motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, we grant Defendants' motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs allege that they were tradesmen who worked at a generating station (Facility) owned and operated by Midwest Generation LLC (Midwest). Plaintiffs allege that the Facility was under the actual control and management of Defendants. According to Plaintiffs, on September 12, 2006, there was an explosion at the Facility which caused serious and permanent injuries to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs allege that the explosion was a result of negligent acts by agents of Defendants.

Plaintiffs brought the instant action in the Circuit Court of Cook County asserting Illinois common law claims for negligence. EMG removed the instant action to this court and all Defendants have moved to dismiss the instant action.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) directs a court to dismiss a claim for lack of personal jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). Although a plaintiff need not anticipate in its complaint a personal jurisdiction challenge, "once the defendant moves to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the existence of jurisdiction." Purdue Research Foundation v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 781-82 (7th Cir. 2003); Kinslow v. Pullara, 538 F.3d 687, 690 (7th Cir. 2008)(stating that "[t]he plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the jurisdictional requirements are met, but if no facts are in dispute, as is the case here, then the party asserting jurisdiction need only establish a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction to satisfy that burden"); Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Phencorp Reinsurance Co., Inc., 440 F.3d 870, 875 (7th Cir. 2006)(indicating that the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction). If the district court holds an evidentiary hearing to address the personal jurisdiction issue, the "plaintiff must establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence." Purdue Research Foundation, 338 F.3d at 781-82. If the district court rules solely based on written materials submitted by the parties, "the plaintiff 'need only make out a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction.'" Id. (quoting in part Hyatt Intern. Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002)). In determining whether a plaintiff has made a prima facie showing, "the plaintiff 'is entitled to the resolution in its favor of all disputes concerning relevant facts presented in the record.'" Id. (quoting Nelson v. Park Indus., Inc., 717 F.2d 1120, 1123 (7th Cir. 1983)). In assessing whether a plaintiff has made a prima facie showing the court can consider materials presented to the court by the parties such as affidavits. Id.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), a defendant can seek a dismissal of the claims brought against him based upon "insufficiency of process. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) (Rule 4(m)) provides that "[i]f service of the summons and complaint is not made upon a defendant within 120 days after the filing of the complaint, the court, upon motion or on its own initiative after notice to the plaintiff, shall dismiss the action without prejudice as to that defendant or direct that service be effected within a specified time. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). Rule 4(m) also provides that "if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure" to serve within the 120 day deadline, "the court shall extend the time for service for an appropriate period." Id.

DISCUSSION

Defendants argue that the claims brought against them should be dismissed since all three Defendants are not subject to personal jurisdiction in Illinois and since all three were not properly served within 120 days of the filing of the instant action.

I. Personal Jurisdiction

Defendants argue that they are not subject to personal jurisdiction in Illinois.

In a federal court action premised solely on diversity subject matter jurisdiction, the court "has personal jurisdiction only where a court of the state in which it sits would have such jurisdiction." Citadel Group Ltd. v. Washington Regional Medical Center, 536 F.3d 757, 760 (7th Cir. 2008). To determine whether a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in Illinois, a court must consider the limitations imposed by "the Illinois long-arm statute, the Illinois constitution, and the federal constitution." Id. As indicated above, after a defendant has moved to dismiss a complaint "for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the existence of jurisdiction." Purdue Research Foundation, 338 F.3d at 782 (7th Cir. 2003).

A defendant may be subject to two types of personal jurisdiction: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. A defendant is subject to general jurisdiction "where the defendant's contacts with the forum state are 'continuous and systematic.'" Citadel Group Ltd., 536 F.3d at 760 n.3 (quoting Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 416 (1984)). For general jurisdiction, "[u]nlike specific jurisdiction," a defendant can "be ...


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