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Crisostomo v. Schneider-Kidan

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 6, 2017



          John Z. Lee United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Josey Crisostomo (“Plaintiff”) brings suit against Defendants Tracy Schneider-Kidan (“Schneider-Kidan”) and Adam Kidan (“Kidan”), both officers of Chartwell Staffing Services, Inc. (“Chartwell”). Plaintiff's claims arise under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 115, et seq. (“IWPCA”). He alleges that Defendants knowingly failed to properly compensate him in accordance with the parties' employment agreement. He further alleges that Defendants unlawfully retaliated against him by discharging him for complaining about Defendants' failure to properly compensate him.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(2). Alternatively, Defendants argue the First Amended Complaint should be dismissed for failing to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion [22] is denied.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff is a resident of Naperville, Illinois, and was employed by Chartwell as an Executive Vice President. 1st Am. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff worked at Chartwell's Lombard, Illinois location. Id. Chartwell provides staffing services nationwide with its corporate headquarters located in Pennsylvania. Id. ¶ 6. During the period relevant to Plaintiff's claims, Schneider-Kidan was an owner and the CEO of Chartwell and was involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Id. ¶ 4. Kidan was an owner and the Chairman of Chartwell and was also involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Id. ¶ 5.

         In March 2015, at Chartwell's Lombard, Illinois office, Kidan told Plaintiff that he intended to promote Plaintiff to Executive Vice President, increase his salary to $180, 000, and increase his commissions as well. Id. ¶ 7. On April 20, 2015, the parties finalized an employment agreement which included a base salary of $180, 000 per annum, 1.25% commission of gross revenue for sales personally generated, 0.5% commission of gross revenue for accounts that Plaintiff supervised, as well as 20% of the net profits of the offices and accounts Plaintiff supervised on a quarterly basis. Id. ¶ 8; see id., Ex. A.

         In August 2015, Plaintiff complained to Kidan that he was not being paid the proper share of net profits or commissions as set forth in the employment agreement. Id. ¶ 12. Kidan responded by assuring Plaintiff that the issue would be fixed. Id. When Plaintiff again complained to Kiden in November 2015, Kidan told Plaintiff he would look into it, but did not do so. Id. ¶ 14. This pattern continued until March 31, 2016, when Plaintiff complained one last time to Kidan about the outstanding compensation. Id. ¶ 17. Kidan responded by asking if Plaintiff wanted “today to be his last day.” Id. Plaintiff was terminated on April 4, 2016. Id. ¶ 18.

         Legal Standard

         A court that lacks personal jurisdiction over a defendant must dismiss the case as to that party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). If a defendant moves to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), it places the burden on the plaintiff to demonstrate the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). In making this determination, the court will “‘read the complaint liberally, in its entirety, and with every inference drawn in favor of'” the plaintiff. Cent. States, Se. & Sw. Areas Pension Fund v. Phencorp Reinsurance Co., 440 F.3d 870, 878 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Textor v. Bd. of Regents of N. Ill. Univ., 711 F.2d 1387, 1393 (7th Cir. 1983)). “The precise nature of the plaintiff's burden depends upon whether an evidentiary hearing has been held.” Purdue, 338 F.3d at 782. When there is no dispute of material fact and a court rules solely based on the submission of written materials, the plaintiff “‘need only make out a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction.'” Id. (quoting Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002)). In making this determination, the court can consider affidavits and other supporting materials. See Id. The court must resolve any conflicts in the affidavits and supporting materials in the plaintiff's favor. Id. at 782-83.

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. Bell v. City of Country Club Hills, 841 F.3d 713, 716 (7th Cir. 2016). Under the federal pleading standards, “[a] plaintiff's complaint need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, sufficient to provide the defendant with fair notice of the claim and its basis.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted); Fed R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must “accept[ ] as true all well-pleaded facts alleged, and draw[ ] all possible inferences in [the plaintiff's] favor.” Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081.

         Additionally, a complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To have facial plausibility, a claim must plead “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. Plausibility, however, “does not imply that the district court should decide whose version to believe, or which version is more likely than not.” Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010).


         I. Personal Jurisdiction

         Defendants argue that personal jurisdiction is lacking for two reasons. First, both Defendants argue that the fiduciary-shield doctrine precludes the Court from exercising personal jurisdiction over them. In addition, Schneider-Kidan argues that she lacks sufficient minimum contacts with Illinois to confer personal jurisdiction. In particular, she asserts that Plaintiff has not alleged that she purposefully directed activity at Illinois or purposefully availed herself of the privilege of doing business in Illinois such that she could have reasonably anticipated being subject to the Court's jurisdiction. The Court analyzes each argument in turn.

         A. The Fiduciary-Shield Doctrine

         According to Defendants, the fiduciary-shield doctrine precludes the exercise of personal jurisdiction because any contact Defendants had with Illinois were by way of actions taken in a representative capacity on behalf of Chartwell. In response, Plaintiff contends that the fiduciary-shield ...

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