United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Jerome Ratliff, on behalf of himself and other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
Don Hummer Trucking Corp., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. GUZMÁN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
reasons stated below, Defendant's motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction  is granted. All pending
motions denied as moot. Civil case terminated.
Plaintiff applied online for a
commercial truck-driver position with Defendant on or about
November 14, 2014 in response to a solicitation on
Defendant's website. (Compl., Dkt. #1, ¶ 21.) On or
about November 26, 2014, Defendant obtained a background
report from HireRight, LLC. (Id. ¶ 22.)
According to Plaintiff, on information and belief, Defendant
disqualified him for the job based on information Defendant
learned from the background report, and did not hire
Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 24.) Defendant did
not provide Ratliff with the notice required by the federal
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), informing him
that he was not hired based on information in his background
report within three business days of deciding not to hire
him. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff brings the instant
action on behalf of himself and a class of similarly-situated
Defendant moves to dismiss based on lack of both standing and
personal jurisdiction, the Court addresses only the latter
issue. Meyers v. Oneida Tribe of Indians, 836 F.3d
818, 821 (7th Cir. 2016) (“‘[A] federal court has
leeway to choose among threshold grounds for denying audience
to a case on the merits.'”) (citation omitted). A
motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2)
challenges personal jurisdiction over a defendant. When the
Court relies solely on written materials to rule on such a
motion, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a
prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. See Kipp v.
Ski Enter. Corp. of Wis., 783 F.3d 695, 697 (7th Cir.
2015). Plaintiff's jurisdictional allegations are
accepted as true unless proved otherwise by Defendant's
affidavits or exhibits. See Purdue Research Found. v.
Sanofi-Sythelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir.
2003). “[O]nce the defendant has submitted affidavits
or other evidence in opposition to the exercise of
jurisdiction, the plaintiff must go beyond the pleadings and
submit affirmative evidence supporting the exercise of
jurisdiction.” Id. at 783. “[U]nder the
prima facie standard, the plaintiff is entitled to have any
conflicts in the affidavits (or supporting materials)
resolved in [his] favor.” Id.
FCRA does not authorize nationwide service of process.”
Juarez v. Dimon, No. 14 C 4043, 2014 WL 7177544, at
*2 (C.D. Ill.Dec. 16, 2014) (citing 15 U.S.C. § 1681p).
Where a federal statute does not authorize nationwide service
of process, the Court may exercise jurisdiction over the
defendants only “if it would be permitted to do so
under the Illinois long-arm statute.” uBID, Inc. v.
GoDaddy Grp., Inc., 623 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2010)
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A)). “Because Illinois
permits personal jurisdiction if it would be authorized under
either the Illinois Constitution or the United States
Constitution, the state statutory and federal constitutional
requirements merge.” Id. (citations omitted).
“Personal jurisdiction can be either general or
specific, depending on the extent of the defendant's
contacts with the forum state.” Id. Here,
Plaintiff relies only on specific jurisdiction in responding
to Defendant's motion to dismiss.
requirements must be established in order for a court to
exercise specific jurisdiction over a party:
“‘(1) the defendant must have purposely availed
himself of the privilege of conducting business in the forum
state or purposefully directed his activities at the state;
(2) the alleged injury must have arisen from the
defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the
exercise of jurisdiction must comport with traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.'”
Johnson v. Barrier, No. 15 C 3928, 2017 WL 36442, at
*3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2017) (citation omitted).
“‘Th[e] purposeful availment requirement ensures
that a defendant will not be haled into a jurisdiction solely
as a result of random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts or
of the unilateral activity of another party or a third
person.'” be2 LLC v. Ivanov, 642 F.3d 555,
558 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).
specific jurisdiction is challenged, “[t]he plaintiff
must . . . prove that the defendant had constitutionally
sufficient contacts with the forum and that the
defendant's contacts were temporally and
substantively related to the lawsuit.”
uBID, 623 F.3d at 431 (emphasis added). See also
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Super. Ct. of Cal., 137
S.Ct. 1773, 1780 (2017) (“‘[S]pecific
jurisdiction is confined to adjudication of issues deriving
from, or connected with, the very controversy that
establishes jurisdiction.'”) (citation omitted).
Here, Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive from
Defendant the required FCRA notification that he had not been
hired due, at least in part, to information included in his
background report. In support of his assertion that the Court
has personal jurisdiction over Defendant, Plaintiff attests
that he is an Illinois resident, and viewed and applied for
the job online from Illinois. (Pl.'s Resp., Ratliff
Decl., Dkt. # 16-1, ¶¶ 2-4.) He also submits a
screen shot from Defendant's website on January 8, 2018,
which depicts a map of the areas that Defendant serves.
(Pl.'s Resp., York Decl., Ex. A, Dkt. # 16-2.) The map
designates Illinois as one of Defendant's “primary
regions, ” though the term is undefined, and identifies
Chicago as a “target area, ” again, an undefined
term. (Id.) The Court concludes that Plaintiff's
evidence fails to establish this Court's specific
personal jurisdiction over Defendant as it relates to
Plaintiff's FCRA claim.
the fact that Plaintiff resides in Illinois is, without more,
insufficient to create personal jurisdiction over an
out-of-state defendant. Chopra v. Naik, No. 16 C
10262, 2017 WL 4339804, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 30, 2017)
(“A defendant - not the plaintiff or third parties -
must create the contact with the forum state . . . .”).
With respect to Plaintiff's online application, the Court
notes that “[c]ourts should be careful in resolving
questions about personal jurisdiction involving online
contacts to ensure that a defendant is not haled into court
simply because the defendant owns or operates a website that
is accessible in the forum state, even if that site is
‘interactive.'” be2 LLC, 642 F.3d at
558 (citing Ill. v. Hemi Grp., LLC, 622 F.3d 754,
760 (7th Cir. 2010)). “If the defendant merely operates
a website, even a ‘highly interactive' website,
that is accessible from, but does not target, the forum
state, then the defendant may not be haled into court in that
state without offending the Constitution.” Id.
at 559. While Plaintiff asserts that “Defendant's
violation of the FCRA is directly connected to [its]
Illinois-directed solicitation of potential drivers, ”
and that Defendant “has significantly broadened its
scope for recruiting drivers to include Illinois, ”
(Pl.'s Resp., Dkt. # 16, at 17), he fails to point to any
evidence supporting these assertions; accordingly, they are
unpersuasive. See Advanced Tactical Ordnance Sys., LLC v.
Real Action Paintball, Inc., 751 F.3d 796, 801 (7th Cir.
2014), as corrected (May 12, 2014) (“Specific
jurisdiction must rest on the litigation-specific
conduct of the defendant in the proposed forum state.”)
(emphasis in original).
contrast, Defendant submits the declaration of its Director
of Finance, Jake Von Feldt, indicating that Defendant makes
all of its employment and personnel decisions in Iowa; it
interacts with all of its third-party vendors, including
HireRight, from Iowa; all of its communications with
applicants take place from Iowa; it does not maintain any
operation or offices in Illinois, and leases one parking lot
there in which its drivers can park their trucks; it received
Plaintiff's application for employment at, and made the
request to HireRight (located in California) for
Plaintiff's background report from, its offices in Iowa;
and it made the hiring decision regarding Plaintiff at its
corporate office in Iowa. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss, Von Feldt
Decl., Dkt. # 15-2, ¶¶ 1-8, 10-12.) This testimony
remains unrebutted by Plaintiff.
Plaintiff has not established that his FCRA claim is related
to Defendant's contacts with Illinois. Von Feldt attests
that two percent of Defendant's revenue is generated by
loads shipping from and delivering into Illinois. (Def.'s
Mot. Dismiss, Von Feldt Decl., Dkt. # 15-2, ¶ 9.) But,
as noted above, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that his claim
that he did not receive the post-rejection notification
required by the FCRA is related to Defendant's
transportation services in Illinois. See Goodyear Dunlop
Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 931 n.6
(2011) (noting that “even regularly occurring sales of
a product in a State do not justify the exercise of
jurisdiction over a claim unrelated to those sales”).
Even assuming Plaintiff had established that Defendant's
activities in Illinois were related to his FCRA claim,
Plaintiff has not demonstrated that the extent of
Defendant's trucking activity in Illinois is sufficient
to meet the minimum contacts necessary to make personal
jurisdiction proper. See Advanced Tactical, 751 F.3d
at 801 (“Not only did [Plaintiff] fail to link the few
sales to [Defendant's] litigation-specific activity, but
even if it did, it is unlikely that those few sales alone,
without some evidence linking them to the allegedly tortious
activity, would make jurisdiction proper.”).
addition, while Plaintiff alleges that he applied for the
position at issue on November 24, 2014, the map he points to
as proof that Defendant perceived “Illinois and Chicago
[as] . . . important geographic areas of its business, a
matter of importance to drivers and customers alike, ”
was viewed and printed by Plaintiff on January 8, 2018, over
three years later. (Pl.'s Resp., Dkt. # 16, at 15.) Thus,
even assuming arguendo that Defendant's contacts with
Illinois were substantively related to Plaintiffs FCRA claim,
without information regarding Defendant's contacts with
Illinois in or around ...