United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Castillo, Chief Judge
Walker ("Plaintiff) brings her fourth amended complaint
against Macy's Merchandising Group, Inc.
("MMG"), Walmart Stores, Inc.
("Walmart"), Rex Garments Ltd. ("Rex"),
and Charles Komar & Sons, Inc. ("Komar")
(collectively "Defendants"). (R. 69, Fourth Am.
Compl.) Plaintiff alleges numerous strict products-liability
and breach of warranty claims against Defendants, seeking to
recover for injuries she sustained when her clothing caught
fire. (Id.) Presently before the Court is Rex's
motion to dismiss Counts I through VI for lack of personal
jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2). (R. 98, Mot.) For the reasons stated below, the
Court grants Rex's motion.
time before January 14, 2014, Plaintiff purchased a Style
& Co. Sport brand jacket from a Macy's retail store
located in Cook County, Illinois. (R. 69, Fourth Am. Compl.
¶ 17.) Plaintiffs daughter also purchased two sets of
Secret Treasures sleepwear, each consisting of a shirt and
pants, from a Walmart retail store prior to the incident.
(Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiffs daughter gave one of the
sleepwear sets to Plaintiff. (Id.) On January 14,
2014, Plaintiff was wearing the jacket and the sleepwear
while cooking on her stove when the clothing caught fire.
(Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) Although Plaintiff
attempted to extinguish the flames, she claims that the
clothing burned so rapidly that she suffered extensive burns
to numerous parts of her body, was hospitalized for months,
underwent multiple surgeries, and then spent additional
months in rehabilitation therapy. (Id. f¶
filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County on February
28, 2014, asserting products-liability and breach of warranty
negligence claims against Macy's Retail Holdings, Inc.
and Walmart. (R, 1-1, Compl.) Waimart removed the
lawsuit to this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)
and 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (R. 1, Notice of Removal.)
Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to remand to state
court, (R. 17, Mot. to Remand at 1-2), which this Court
denied, (R. 30, Order). The Court dismissed Plaintiffs
initial state complaint without prejudice, (R. 16, Min.
Order), and granted Plaintiff leave to amend her subsequent
federal complaint, (R. 21, Min. Order). On January 11, 2016,
Plaintiff filed her fourth amended complaint, which names Rex
and Korman as Defendants for the first time. (R. 69, Fourth
Am. Compl.) Plaintiffs fourth amended complaint alleges that
Rex, a Hong Kong corporation, manufactured the jacket worn
during the incident, (id. ¶¶ 8-9), while
Korman, a New York corporation, made the sleepwear, (id.
brings three strict products-liability counts against Rex for
the allegedly defective manufacturing and design of the sport
jacket, and for the alleged defect of the jacket due to
inadequate warning. (Id. ¶¶ 27-53.)
Plaintiffs additional three counts against Rex allege breach
of express warranty of fitness, breach of implied warranty of
fitness, and negligence. (Id. If 54-78.) Rex filed
the present Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss on April 1,
2016. (R. 98, Mot. at 1-2.) Rex argues that
because it has no presence in or contacts with Illinois, this
Court cannot lawfully exercise personal jurisdiction over it.
(Id. at 1.) Plaintiff argues that this Court can
properly exercise personal jurisdiction over Rex pursuant to
the "stream of commerce" doctrine. (R. 114, Resp.
jurisdiction refers to a court's "power to bring an
individual into its adjudicative process." N. Grain
Mktg., LLC v. Greving, 743 F.3d 487, 491 (7th Cir.
2014). A district court exercising diversity jurisdiction
applies the personal jurisdiction rules of the state in which
it is located. Philos Techs., Inc. v. Philos & D,
Inc., 802 F.3d 905, 912 (7th Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). This Court can thus exercise personal jurisdiction
only to the extent that Illinois courts are permitted to do
so under the Illinois long-arm statute. See Id.
A complaint does not need to include facts that allege
personal jurisdiction. Purdue Research Found, v.
Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir.
2003). However, a defendant may move for dismissal for lack
of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2).
defendant moves for dismissal based on a lack of personal
jurisdiction, "the plaintiff bears the burden of
demonstrating the existence of jurisdiction." Kipp
v. Ski Enter. Corp of Wis., Inc., 783 F.3d 695, 697 (7th
Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Absent an evidentiary hearing,
the plaintiffs burden is only to establish a prima
facie case of personal jurisdiction. Id. at
695. When ruling on a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss, the
Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations as true, but may
also consider outside materials such as affidavits. See
Felland v. Clifton, 682 F.3d 665, 672 (7th Cir. 2012).
If the defendant submits declarations or other outside
materials challenging personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff
has an obligation to submit affirmative evidence supporting
the exercise of jurisdiction. Purdue Research Found,
338 F.3d at 782-83. Although disputes must be resolved in the
plaintiffs favor, unrefuted assertions contained in the
defendant's affidavit will be accepted as true.
GCIU-Emp'r Ret. Fund v. Goldfarb Corp., 565 F.3d
1018, 1020 n.1 (7th Cir. 2009).
Process Clause limits when a state may exercise personal
jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants. Jennings v. AC
Hydraulic A/S, 383 F.3d 546, 549 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing
Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Super. Ct. of Cal, 480
U.S. 102, 108 (1987)). The Clause "protects an
individual's liberty interest in not being subject to the
binding judgments of a forum with which he has established no
meaningful contacts, ties or relations." N. Grain
Mktg., 743 F.3d. at 492 (quoting Int'l Shoe Co.
v. Wash. Office of Unemployment Comp. & Placement,
326 U.S. 310, 319 (1945)). A court's exercise of personal
jurisdiction is thus proper when the defendant has
"minimum contacts with the [forum state] such that the
maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.'"
Philos, 802 F.3d at 913 (quoting Int'l
Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 316).
recognize two distinct forms of personal jurisdiction:
general and specific. Kipp, 783 F.3d at 697 (citing
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 751 (2014)).
"The nature of the defendant's contacts with the
forum state determines the propriety of personal jurisdiction
and also its scope-that is, whether jurisdiction is proper at
all, and if so, whether it is general or specific to the
claims made in the case." Tamburo v. Dworkin,
601 F.3d 693, 701 (7th Cir. 2010). General jurisdiction
applies to all suits regardless of whether they arise out of
the defendant's forum-related activity. Daimler
AG, 134 S.Ct. at 754. However, it can be exercised only
when the defendant has such "continuous and
systematic" contacts with the forum state that he or she
can be deemed "essentially at home" in the forum
state. Id. (citation omitted). "The threshold
for general jurisdiction is high, " because "the
contacts must be sufficiently extensive and pervasive to
approximate physical presence." Tamburo, 601
F.3d at 701. Thus, "isolated or sporadic contacts-such
as occasional visits to the forum state" are
insufficient to support the exercise of jurisdiction.
Id. A foreign corporation is considered "at
home" in its state of incorporation and its principal
place of business. Advanced Tactical Ordnance Sys. v.
Real Action Paintball, Inc., 751 F.3d 796, 800 (7th Cir.
2014). Specific jurisdiction is more limited, and requires a
plaintiff to show that the controversy between the parties
directly arises out of the defendant's
"forum-related activity." Id.
support of its motion, Rex submits a declaration from Chow
Yick Ping, Rex's managing director, attesting that it is
a "Hong Kong Limited Company, " located in Hong
Kong, and supplying garments that are manufactured in Hong
Kong and China. (R. 99-1, Ping Decl. ¶¶ 4-6.) Ping
attests that Rex is not registered or incorporated in
Illinois, does not have any offices, employees, or property
in Illinois, and has never entered into a contract with any
party in Illinois. (Id. ¶¶ 7-10, 14.) He
attests that Rex has supplied garments to MMG, including one
of the garments at issue in this case. (Id.
¶¶16-17.) This garment was manufactured by a
company located in Fosham Guangdong, China, and Rex shipped
it to Yantian, China, to be delivered to MMG. (Id.
¶ 19.) From Yantian, Rex has no control or knowledge of
where its garments would be ultimately sold by distributors,
though it believes that MMG shipped the garments from Yantian
to Los Angeles. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.)
on these facts, which are uncontradicted by Plaintiff, Rex
argues that its contacts with Illinois are too limited to
support the exercise of personal jurisdiction. (R. 99, Mem.
at 6-7.) Plaintiff disagrees, arguing that Rex's actions
are sufficient to establish specific jurisdiction in Illinois
under the stream-of-commerce doctrine. (R. 114, Resp. at
5-6.) Although Plaintiff does not explicitly address general
jurisdiction, she does not argue-and this Court cannot
discern any basis for concluding-that a company based and
incorporated in Hong Kong, with no property or direct
business ties to Illinois, could be deemed "at
home" in Illinois. See Purdue Research, 338
F.3d at 787 (holding that for general jurisdiction to exist
over a nonresident defendant, his or her contacts with the
forum state "must be so extensive to be ...