United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
ANTON MUENSTERMANN, administrator of the Estate of TYLER MUENSTERMANN, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Versar, Inc.'s
(“Versar”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
claims against them pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6) (Doc. 41). Plaintiff opposes
the motion (Doc. 47). The Court held a hearing on the motion
on March 29, 2017. For the following reasons and those stated
on the record, the motion is GRANTED in
is a foreign corporation with its headquarters and principal
place of business in Springfield, Virginia. Plaintiff filed
this wrongful death action alleging that the defendants,
including Versar, caused a live mortar shell to be
transferred from the U.S. Army's National Training Center
at Fort Irwin, California to Granite City, Illinois. On
August 25, 2014, the mortar shell exploded in Granite City,
killing Plaintiff's decedent, Tyler Muenstermann.
maintains that Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to
state a viable claim against it. Specifically, Versar asserts
that Plaintiff failed to allege that the live mortar came
from Versar or Fort Irwin. Additionally, Versar argues that
Plaintiff failed to plead facts suggesting that Versar had
any duty to render mortars inert as part of its range
clearing activities at Fort Irwin.
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court accepts as true
all facts alleged in the Complaint and construes all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Savory
v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir.2006). To state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Detailed factual
allegations” are not required, but the plaintiff must
allege facts that when “accepted as true ... state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Versar breached its
duty to the employees of Defendant TMR, including
Plaintiff's decedent, by allowing a live munition to be
shipped from Ft. Irwin to Granite City, which caused the
death of Plaintiff's decedent. (Doc. 10, p. 10). While
admittedly thin, these allegations are enough to put Versar
on notice of the claim against them and to allow the Court to
draw the reasonable inference that Versar is liable for the
conduct alleged. This is all that is required under
Iqbal and Twombly. Therefore,
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint survives Rule 12(b)(6)
the complaint does not survive the dictates of Rule 12(b)(2)
for personal jurisdiction. “A district court sitting in
diversity has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant only if a court of the state in which it sits would
have jurisdiction.” Purdue Research Found. v.
Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 779 (7th Cir.
2003). Illinois' long-arm statute permits its courts to
exercise jurisdiction over a person “as to any cause of
action arising from . . . (2) The commission of a tortious
act within [Illinois]” or “on any other basis now
or hereafter permitted by the Illinois Constitution and the
Constitution of the United States.” 735 ILCS
5/2-209(a)&(c). Illinois' long-arm statute,
therefore, extends to the limit of the Fourteenth
Amendment's due-process clause. See Burger King Corp.
v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 464, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85
L.Ed.2d 528 (1985).
the due process clause, “[a] court may assert general
jurisdiction over foreign (sister-state or foreign-country)
corporations to hear any and all claims against them when
their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous
and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in
the forum State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations,
S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851,
180 L.Ed.2d 796 (U.S. 2011). While not exclusive, the
“paradigm bases for general jurisdiction, ” are
whether the corporation is incorporated in the forum state or
has their principal place of business there. Daimler AG
v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 759, 761, 187 L.Ed.2d 624 (2014).
jurisdiction, on the other hand, depends on an affiliation
between the forum and the underlying controversy,
principally, activity or an occurrence that takes place in
the forum State and is therefore subject to the State's
regulation.” Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919
(internal quotations omitted). For specific jurisdiction, the
defendant must have “purposefully directed its
activities at the forum state” and the cause of action
must have arose out of or relate to the defendant's
contacts with the forum state.” Russell v.
SNFA, 2013 IL 113909, ¶ 40, 987 N.E.2d 778, 787.
Moreover, the unilateral activity of a third party cannot
subject a nonresident defendant to specific jurisdiction,
even if the third party claims some relationship with that
defendant. There must be some act by which “the
defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of
conducting activities within the forum state, thus invoking
the benefits and protections of its laws.” Hanson
v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253, 78 S.Ct. 1228, 2 L.Ed.2d
1283 (1958). In other words, a defendant is not subject to
jurisdiction based merely on random, fortuitous, or
attenuated contacts - there must be a real relationship with
the state with respect to the activities at issue. N.
Grain Mktg., 743 F.3d at 493.
asserts that this Court has general jurisdiction over Versar
because it has engaged in “continuous and substantial
business” in Illinois. To support this assertion,
Plaintiff has submitted various documents and website
materials which suggest that Versar conducted business in
Illinois between 1981 and 2009. Plaintiff also contends that
Versar currently has at least one office and an uncertain
number of employees in Illinois - a fact that Versar disputes
by affidavit (Doc. 65). Finally, Plaintiff points out that
Versar is registered with the Illinois Secretary of State and
maintains an agent for service of process in Illinois.
cites Curley v. Gateway Concrete Forming Sys., Inc.,
No. 1-09-2386, 2010 WL 4608754 (Ill.App.Ct. Nov. 5, 2010) for
the proposition that registering with the Secretary of State
and maintaining an agent for service of process are factors
in determining personal jurisdiction (Doc. 47 p. 3). That
case, however, predates Daimler. Nevertheless, those
activities and any business dealings Versar may have had in
Illinois prior to 2014 do not constitute the type of
continuance and systematic affiliations that would render
Versar “at home” in this state for purposes of
also argues that Versar is subject to specific jurisdiction
in Illinois because the explosion constituted a tort
committed by Versar, thereby creating the necessary minimum
contacts with this state. While it is true that “the
Seventh Circuit has repeatedly held that tortfeasors must
expect to be haled into Illinois courts for torts where the
injury took place there[, ]” ABN AMRO, Inc. v.
Capital International Ltd., 595 F.Supp.2d 805, 828 (N.D.
Ill. 2008), a tortfeasor is not automatically subject to
personal jurisdiction on that basis alone. More is needed to
satisfy the requirement for minimum contacts with the forum
state. “The proper question is not where the plaintiff
experienced a particular injury or effect but whether the
defendant's conduct connects him to the forum in a
meaningful way.” Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct.
1115, 1125, 188 L.Ed.2d 12 (2014).
never contracted with Defendants DaRan or TMR nor were they
involved in transporting the munitions to Illinois or the
disposal of the materials here. The only conduct Plaintiff
alleges Versar engaged in took place in California and was in
no way connected with Illinois. As such, Versar's
suit-related conduct did not subject it to specific
jurisdiction in this state.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 41) is
GRANTED for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Versar Inc. is DISMIS ...