United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY United States District Judge.
Mendicino is a former employee of Dowe Gallagher Aerospace.
He has filed suit against Dowe Gallagher, alleging national
origin discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dowe Gallagher has moved
to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons
stated below, the Court grants Dowe Gallagher's motion.
an Illinois resident, worked for Dowe Gallagher as a pilot.
His position required international travel to carry out his
work assignments. On or about February 15, 2015, while on
assignment in the Seychelles, Mendicino dined with Mike Celec
and two other persons. Mendicino alleges that during dinner,
Celec called him a "guinea, " a derogatory
reference to his Italian heritage. Compl. ¶ 19. After
Mendicino told Celec "that is offensive, " Celec
responded, "well, you don't believe in God, so it
doesn't matter." Id. ¶ 21. Celec
called Mendicino a "Guinea" two additional times at
dinner. Id.. ¶¶ 22-24. After the final
time, Mendicino left money on the table and departed.
April 7, 2015, Mendicino sent a written complaint about
Celec's discriminatory comments to Dowe Gallagher. Dowe
Gallagher later terminated Mendicino.
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission, alleging Dowe Gallagher violated
Title VII. After receiving a notice of right to sue,
Mendicino filed this lawsuit. He asserts that Dowe Gallagher
and its agents discriminated against him because of his
national origin and terminated him in retaliation for his
complaint regarding Celec's discriminatory conduct.
Gallagher has moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. A
plaintiff bears the burden to show that personal jurisdiction
exists over the defendant. Tamburo v. Dworkin, 601
F.3d 693, 700 (7th Cir. 2010). When the challenge to personal
jurisdiction is raised by a motion to dismiss and is, as in
this case, decided based on written materials instead of an
evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make out a prima
facie case of jurisdiction. Id.; N. Grain Mktg.,
LLC v. Greving, 743 F.3d 487, 491 (7th Cir. 2014). if
the defendant submits affidavits to support its motion, the
plaintiff must "submit affirmative evidence supporting
the exercise of jurisdiction." Purdue Research
Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 783
(7th Cir. 2003). The Court resolves factual disputes in favor
of the plaintiff. Felland v. Clifton, 682 F.3d 665,
672 (7th Cir. 2012).
the Illinois long-arm statute, a federal court may exercise
personal jurisdiction if either the Illinois Constitution or
the United States Constitution permits the court to do so.
Mobile Anesthesiologists Chi., LLC v. Anesthesia Assocs.
of Houston Metroplex, P.A., 623 F.3d 440, 443 (7th Cir.
2010). The Seventh Circuit has held that there is no
meaningful difference between these constitutional limits on
personal jurisdiction. State of Illinois v. Hemi Grp.
LLC, 622 F.3d 754, 757 (7th Cir. 2010). Thus the Court
need only determine whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction would comport with federal due process.
Mobile Anesthesiologists, 623 F.3d at 443.
parties agree that the Court does not have general
jurisdiction over Dowe Gallagher. Instead, their dispute
concerns whether the Court may assert specific jurisdiction.
To determine whether specific jurisdiction exists, the Court
examines the nature of the defendant's contacts with the
forum state in relation to the underlying claims of the
lawsuit. Tamburo, 601 F.3d at 701-02. Specific
jurisdiction is appropriate when the non-resident defendant
has purposefully directed its activities at the forum state
and the alleged injury arises out of or relates to those
activities. Mobile Anesthesiologists, 623 F.3d at
444 (citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S.
462, 472 (1985)).
Gallagher has submitted an affidavit from its executive vice
president, Joseph Fucci. He states, and Mendicino does not
dispute, that Dowe Gallagher is a Delaware company with its
principal place of business and only corporate office in
Florida. Mendicino likewise does not dispute Fucci's
statement that Dowe Gallagher "does no business in
Illinois, has no employees in Illinois and maintains no
offices in Illinois." Fucci Decl. ¶ 5. Nor does
Dowe Gallagher have a telephone number, mailing address, real
estate, bank accounts or assets in Illinois.
Gallagher argues that its only relevant contact with Illinois
is that it hired an Illinois resident, Mendicino, to perform
a job overseas. This is not sufficient, Dowe Gallagher
maintains, to confer specific jurisdiction consistent with
argues that Dowe Gallagher has sufficient contacts with
Illinois to permit the exercise of specific jurisdiction. In
his affidavit, Mendicino states that Dowe Gallagher initiated
hiring discussions with him while he was an Illinois
resident-though he concedes he was "deployed to Chania,
Greece" at the time. Mendicino Decl. ¶ 6. He also
contends that Dowe Gallagher maintained a connection with the
state when it regularly communicated with him when he was in
Illinois. Finally, Mendicino argues that Dowe Gallagher's
contact with Illinois persisted throughout their employment
relationship. Dowe Gallagher ordered Mendicino to travel to
and from Illinois for his assignments and paid for that
travel, and the company paid his wages into an Illinois bank
account, and terminated him over the phone when he was
physically in Illinois. These contacts with Illinois are
enough, Mendicino argues, to establish specific jurisdiction.
Court finds instructive the Seventh Circuit's decision in
Northern Grain Marketing, in which the court found
the defendant's Illinois contacts insufficient to support
jurisdiction here. There the plaintiff, an Illinois grain
buyer, contracted with the defendant, a Wisconsin farmer, to
purchase grain. The Wisconsin defendant met the Illinois
plaintiff in Illinois and later entered into a series of
grain purchase contracts with the plaintiff. N. Grain
Mktg., 743 F.3d at 489-90. The defendant knew that the
plaintiff was located in Illinois, and the plaintiff paid the
defendant with checks drawn on Illinois banks. Id.
at 490. However, the defendant produced grain in Wisconsin
and delivered it to grain elevators located in that state.
Id. Although the defendant knew he had contracted
with an Illinois plaintiff, the Court found the
defendant's contacts insufficient to support personal
jurisdiction in Illinois. The negotiations that led to the
formation of the parties' contractual relationship did