United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
SCOTT JENKINS and RHONDA STEPHANIE ALEXANDROPOULOS, Plaintiffs,
BRUCE BURKEY, TAYLOR LAW FIRM PC, JOICE BASS, JENNIFER HOSTETLER and LEWIS ROCA ROTHGERBER LLP, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on three motions to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction filed by defendants Jennifer
Hostetler (Doc. 15), Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP (n/k/a Lewis
Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP; “LRRC”) (Doc. 36);
and Joice Bass (Doc. 39). LRRC also seeks dismissal for
insufficient service of process. Plaintiff Scott Jenkins has
responded to the motions (Docs. 32, 46 & 47). Plaintiff
Rhonda Alexandropoulos has not responded to the motions, so
under Local Rule 7.1(c) the Court finds she has admitted they
originally filed this lawsuit in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which described
this litigation as follows:
This litigation arises from a prior lawsuit plaintiff Jenkins
filed against his daughters in Nevada to regain control of a
family-owned company in Nevada (the “Nevada
Lawsuit”). In that lawsuit, Jenkins' daughters
retained defendants Bass and Hostetler of the Nevada law firm
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP as their attorneys. In
addition, plaintiff Jenkins' daughters retained defendant
Burkey of the Taylor Law Firm, P.C. in Illinois.
* * *
Plaintiffs have now brought a variety of claims against the
named attorneys and law firms, which all relate to the
defendants' work representing their clients opposite
plaintiff Jenkins in the Nevada Lawsuit. These claims include
intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference
with a prospective economic advantage, defamation, negligent
supervision, and breach of contract. Plaintiffs have also
alleged that defendants committed fraud, fraudulent
misrepresentation, conspiracy, theft, the unauthorized
practice of law, illegal possession of personal credit file
information, violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and
Deceptive Business Practice Act, blackmail, extortion,
coercion, mail fraud, and sending threatening communications
by mail. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants Bass and
Hostetler illegally filed or threatened to file lis
pendens in Illinois and Missouri.
Eastern District of Missouri court dismissed the action for
lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants. Jenkins
and Alexandropoulos have filed a very similar suit in this
Court. Bass, Hostetler and LRRC now ask the Court to dismiss
the plaintiffs' claims against them because they lack
sufficient contacts with the state of Illinois to be brought
into court here. LRRC also complains that it was not served
personal jurisdiction is challenged under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing personal jurisdiction over a defendant.
Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A.,
338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). If there are material
facts in dispute regarding the Court's jurisdiction over
a defendant, the Court must hold an evidentiary hearing at
which the plaintiff must establish jurisdiction by a
preponderance of the evidence. Id. (citing Hyatt
Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir.
2002)). Alternatively, the Court may decide the motion to
dismiss without a hearing based on the submitted written
materials so long as it resolves all factual disputes in the
plaintiff's favor. Purdue Research, 338 F.3d at
782 (citing RAR, Inc. v. Turner Diesel, Ltd., 107
F.3d 1272, 1276 (7th Cir. 1997)). If the Court consults only
the written materials, the plaintiff need only make a
prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction.
Purdue Research, 338 F.3d at 782 (citing
Hyatt, 302 F.3d at 713). In this case, the Court
consults only the written materials to determine whether
Jenkins has made a prima facie showing of personal
federal court sitting in diversity looks to the personal
jurisdiction law of the state in which the court sits to
determine if it has jurisdiction. Hyatt, 302 F.3d at
713(citing Dehmlow v. Austin Fireworks, 963 F.2d
941, 945 (7th Cir. 1992)). Thus, this Court applies Illinois
law. Under Illinois law, a court has personal jurisdiction
over a defendant if an Illinois statute grants personal
jurisdiction and if the exercise of personal jurisdiction is
permissible under the Illinois and United States
constitutions. RAR, 107 F.3d at 1276; Wilson v.
Humphreys (Cayman), Ltd., 916 F.2d 1239 (7th Cir. 1990).
Illinois Statutory Law
Illinois law, the long-arm statute permits personal
jurisdiction over a party to the extent allowed under the due
process provisions of the Illinois and United States
constitutions. 735 ILCS 5/2-209(c); Hyatt Int'l Corp.
v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 714 (7th Cir. 2002); Central
States, Se. & Sw. Areas Pension Fund v. Reimer Express
World Corp., 230 F.3d 934, 940 (7th Cir. 2000).
Therefore, whether the Court has jurisdiction over a
defendant depends on whether such jurisdiction is permitted
by federal and state constitutional standards.
Illinois Constitutional Law
Illinois Constitution's due process guarantee, Ill.
Const. art. I, § 2, permits the assertion of personal
jurisdiction “when it is fair, just, and reasonable to
require a nonresident defendant to defend an action in
Illinois, considering the quality and nature of the
defendant's acts which occur in Illinois or which affect
interests located in Illinois.” Rollins v.
Ellwood, 565 N.E.2d 1302, 1316 (Ill. 1990). When
interpreting these principles, a court may look to the
construction and application of the federal due process
clause. Id. In fact, the Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals has suggested that there is no operative difference
between Illinois and federal due process limits on the
exercise of personal jurisdiction. Hyatt Int'l Corp.
v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 715 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing
RAR, Inc. v. Turner Diesel Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1276
(7th Cir. 1997)). The Court sees nothing in this case
indicating that in the situation presented the federal and
state standards should reach a different result. Therefore,
if the contacts between the defendants and Illinois are
sufficient to satisfy the requirements of federal due
process, then the requirements of both the Illinois long-arm
statute and the Illinois Constitution have also been met, and
no other inquiry is necessary.
Federal Constitutional Law
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limits when a
state may assert personal jurisdiction over nonresident
individuals and corporations. See Pennoyer v. Neff,
95 U.S. 714, 733), overruled on other grounds by Shaffer
v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186 (1977). Under federal due
process standards, a court can have personal jurisdiction
over a defendant only if the defendant has “certain
minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the
maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.'”
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310,
316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457,
463 (1940)). The defendant must have “purposely
established minimum contacts with the forum state such that
he or she ‘should reasonably anticipate being haled
into court' there.” Tamburo v. Dworkin,
601 F.3d 693, 701 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Burger King
Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474 (1985)).
this standard means in a particular case depends on whether
the plaintiff asserts “general” or
“specific” jurisdiction. Specific, or
case-linked, jurisdiction refers to jurisdiction over a
defendant in a suit arising out of or in connection with the
defendant's purposeful contacts with the forum.
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564
U.S. 915, 923-24 (2011); Helicopteros Nacionales de
Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 nn. 8, 9
(1984). General, or all-purpose, jurisdiction, on the other
hand, may exist even in suits that do not arise out of or
relate to the defendant's contacts so long as the
defendant has “continuous and systematic”
contacts with the forum state. Goodyear, 564 U.S. at
924; Helicopteros Nacionales, 466 U.S. at 416. No
party in this case seriously contends the Court has general
jurisdiction over Bass, Hostetler or LRRC; the issue is
whether specific jurisdiction exists.
specific jurisdiction inquiry “focuses on the
relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the
litigation.” Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115,
1121 (2014) (internal quotations omitted). First, 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 (1958); accord Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 924.
Second, the lawsuit must arise out of or be related to the
defendant's contact with the forum. Goodyear,
564 U.S. at 923-24; Helicopteros Nacionales, 466
U.S. at 414 n. 8.
case like this asserting a defendant committed an intentional
tort, the constitutional requirements supporting specific
jurisdiction are satisfied “only when the defendant
expressly aims its actions at the state with the knowledge
that they would cause harm to the plaintiff there.”
Mobile Anesthesiologists Chi., LLC v. Anesthesia Assocs.
of Houston Metroplex, P.A., 623 F.3d 440, 445 (7th Cir.
2010). The defendant must have known that the effects would
be felt by the plaintiff in the forum state. Tamburo v.
Dworkin, 601 F.3d 693, 703 (7th Cir. 2010).
“‘[E]xpress aiming' remains the crucial
requirement when a plaintiff seeks to establish personal
jurisdiction” over a defendant accused of an
intentional tort. Mobile Anesthesiologists, 623 F.3d
at 445-46. This requirement “ensure[s] that an
out-of-state defendant is not bound to appear to account for
merely random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts with the
forum state.” Tamburo, 601 F.3d at 702
(internal quotations omitted).
example, in Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 789-90
(1984), the Supreme Court held that a California court had
personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants because
they “wrote and . . . edited an article that they knew
would have a potentially devastating impact upon [the
plaintiff]. And they knew that the brunt of that injury would
be felt by respondent in the State [of California] in which
she lives and works and in which the [publication containing
the article] has its largest circulation.” Similarly,
in Tamburo, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh
Circuit held that a federal court in Illinois had personal
jurisdiction over foreign defendants under
Calder's test because “although they acted
from points outside the forum state, these defendants