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Macey & Aleman, Thomas G. Macey, Individually, and Jeffrey J. v. Carlene M. Simmons

April 14, 2011

MACEY & ALEMAN, THOMAS G. MACEY, INDIVIDUALLY, AND JEFFREY J. ALEMAN, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CARLENE M. SIMMONS, AND ELIZABETH C. KAMPER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, Macey & Aleman, Thomas G. Macey, and Jeffrey J. Aleman (collectively, "Macey & Aleman") filed suit against the defendants, Carlene M. Simmons and Elizabeth C. Kamper ("Defendants"), for alleged conduct related to Defendants' termination of employment with the Macey & Aleman law firm. Defendants have since moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Macey & Aleman is an Illinois partnership with its principal place of business located in Chicago, Illinois and law offices in twenty different states. (Dkt. No. 1 ("Compl.") ¶ 5.) Macey & Aleman is managed by four partners from its Chicago office, including Thomas G. Macey, the Owner and Managing Partner, and Jeffrey J. Aleman, a Senior Partner. (Id. ¶ 6.) The firm primarily handles bankruptcy cases for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtors but also handles Fair Debt Collection Practice Act cases and provides assistance for various types of injury claims. (Id. ¶ 5.)

Defendants, Carlene M. Simmons ("Simmons") and Elizabeth C. Kamper ("Kamper"), are Arizona citizens who are licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 9.) On October 17, 2005, Simmons began working for Macey & Aleman's Phoenix, Arizona office as an Associate Attorney. (Id. ¶ 8.) She received a promotion on June 26, 2008 to become the office's sole Managing Attorney. (Id.) To receive this promotion, Simmons signed an Employment Agreement and a Confidentiality Agreement with Macey & Aleman that governed her employment with the firm. (Id.) Kamper began working at the same Macey & Aleman Phoenix, Arizona office as an Associate Attorney on June 9, 2009. (Id. ¶ 9.) She similarly signed an Employment Agreement and a Confidentiality Agreement that governed her employment. (Id.) The Employment and Confidentiality Agreements that Simmons and Kamper signed (referred to collectively as the "Agreements") were each drafted in Macey & Aleman's Chicago headquarters.*fn1 (Id. ¶¶ 8, 9.) The Employment Agreements each contain the following provisions:

 The provisions of this contract are governed by Illinois law.

 Any dispute arising under this agreement is to be resolved in a court of competent jurisdiction in Illinois.

(Dkt. No. 14 ("Pls.' Resp.") at 3 (quoting Exhs. A and B at ¶¶ 15--16 and 19).)

The Confidentiality Agreements each contain the following language:

 This agreement shall be construed in accordance with and governed by the laws of the State of Illinois.

 I agree that any clams [sic] arising out of this agreement shall be litigated, mediated, arbitrated, or otherwise in Cook County, Illinois.

(Pls.' Resp. 3 (quoting Exhs. C at ¶¶ 9--10 and D at ¶¶ 10--11).)

The dispute in this case arises from Simmons and Kamper's departure from Macey & Aleman on July 2, 2010. (Compl.¶ 14.) In separate, nearly identical emails to three of Macey & Aleman's four partners, Simmons and Kamper declared on July 2 that they were resigning from the firm but would provide any assistance requested during the following two weeks. (Id. ¶ 18, n.1.) Macey & Aleman has alleged that, around this time period, Simmons and Kamper "solicited employees for a mass exodus, downloaded, copied, retained and destroyed confidential client information, mismanaged the firm's financial affairs . . . . [and] use[d] the stolen client information to unilaterally contact and solicit Macey's clients while disparaging Macey & Aleman . . . ." (Id. ¶ 1.) Based on the allegations relating to Simmons and Kamper's termination of employment with Macey & Aleman, Macey & Aleman filed a five-count complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County on September 10, 2010. (Id. ¶¶ 1--89.) The complaint sought damages for conversion, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, tortious interference with business expectancy, and defamation. (Id. ¶ 2.)

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332, Simmons and Kamper removed the case to this court on October 15, 2010 based on diversity jurisdiction. (Id.) Pending before the court is Simmons and Kamper's November 30, 2010 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(2), in which they contend the claims against ...


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