United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. GETTLEMAN JUDGE
Amanda Perry and Theresa Mullery filed separate complaints
against defendant JTM Capital Management, LLC, alleging
violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15
U.S.C. § 1682, et seq. (“FDCPA”).
Defendant has moved to dismiss both cases pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), arguing that this court lacks personal
jurisdiction over it. In the alternative, defendant seeks to
dismiss for improper venue pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3),
transfer the case to the Western District of New York
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), or dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), claiming defendant is not a
“debt collector” under the FDCPA's
definition. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants
defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal
is a Delaware limited liability company that purchases debt
and hires third party debt collection agencies to collect on
consumer debt accounts. Defendant's principal place of
business is Williamsville, New York. Defendant is authorized
to conduct business in Illinois, maintains a registered agent
in Illinois, and is a licensed collection agency in Illinois.
Defendant does not maintain any offices or employ any
individuals in Illinois. Discovery revealed that defendant
has purchased a significant amount of Illinois consumer debt
during 2016 and 2017, but plaintiff has not identified any
attempts by defendant to collect from Illinois
consumers. With the exception of the instant cases,
no other cases have been brought against defendant in the
Northern District of Illinois.
Theresa Mullery is a citizen of New York. Mullery alleges
that defendant directed Northstar Location Services to mail
her a letter demanding payment on a debt originally owed to
Continental Finance Company (“Continental”), but
purchased by defendant. Prior to defendant acquiring the
debt, an attorney at the Chicago Legal Clinic's Legal
Advocates for Seniors and People with Disabilities program
(“LASPD”) informed Continental that Mullery was
represented by counsel and directed Continental to cease
direct contact with Mullery.
Amanda Perry is a South Carolina citizen. Like Mullery, Perry
was also represented by the same attorney at LASPD.
Perry's attorney also informed her original creditor,
Comenity Bank (“Comenity”), that Perry was
represented by counsel and directed Comenity to cease direct
contact. Perry alleges that defendant subsequently acquired
the account and directed Weltman, Weinberg & Reis, Co.
send her a letter demanding payment.
moves to dismiss plaintiffs' complaints under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), arguing that this court lacks personal
jurisdiction over it. The plaintiffs bear the burden of
establishing a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction.
Purdue Research Foundation v. Sanofi-Synthelabo,
S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). When ruling on
a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, this
court accepts “all well-pleaded facts alleged in the
complaint” as true and resolves factual disputes in the
plaintiff's favor. Felland v. Clifton, 682 F.3d
665, 672 (7th Cir. 2012).
both cases involve federal law claims under the FDCPA, the
court's jurisdiction is predicated on a federal question.
28 U.S.C. § 1331. To exercise personal jurisdiction over
a defendant in a federal question case, a federal court must
determine that: (1) bringing the defendant into the court
accords with Fifth Amendment due process principles; and (2)
the defendant is amenable to process from the court.
United States v. Martinez De Ortiz, 910 F.2d 376,
381-82 (7th Cir. 1990). In federal question cases, Fifth
Amendment due process is satisfied where the defendant has
“sufficient contacts with the United States as a whole
rather than any particular state or other geographic
area.” Id. at 381. Defendant is a Delaware
corporation engaging in business in the United States; its
contacts with the United States are sufficient to satisfy due
of service is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1), which
authorizes service if the statute sued under authorizes
nationwide service, or if the defendant would be subject to
the jurisdiction of a court of the state in which the
district court sits. Because the FDCPA does not authorize
nationwide service of process, Illinois state law governs
defendant's amenability to service. See 735 ILCS
Illinois state court has personal jurisdiction when
authorized by: (1) the Illinois Long-Arm Statute; (2) the
Illinois Constitution; and (3) the due process clause of the
United States Constitution. Central States, Southeast and
Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Reimer Express World
Corp., 230 F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir. 2000). The Illinois
Long-Arm Statute authorizes courts to exercise jurisdiction
to the fullest extent allowed by the Illinois and Federal
Constitutions. 735 ILCS 5/2-209(c); Hyatt Int'l Corp.
v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 714 (7th Cir. 2002). Therefore,
the inquiry collapses into an examination of whether
jurisdiction over defendant complies with the test as set
forth in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326
U.S. 310 (1945), which requires that defendant has sufficient
“minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the
maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions
of fair play and substantial justice embodied in the due
process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
jurisdiction may be general or specific. Specific
jurisdiction requires that the suit “arise out of or
relate to the defendant's contacts with the
forum.” Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746,
754 (2014) (quoting Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia,
S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408 (1984)). A defendant may be
subject to general jurisdiction for any claim if it has
continuous and systematic contacts with the state. The
paradigm forums for general jurisdiction for a corporation
are the corporation's state of incorporation and
principal place of business. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at
760 (citing Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011)). See also BNSF Ry.
Co. v. Tyrrell, 137 S.Ct. 1549, 1552-53 (2017).
Daimler does not foreclose the possibility of
general jurisdiction outside of a company's state of
incorporation or principal place of business, but limits it
to only an “exceptional case” in which the
company's contacts are “so substantial and of such
a nature as to render the corporation at home in that
State.” 134 S.Ct. at 761 n.19. General jurisdiction
“should not lightly be found” because it has the
potential to subject a defendant to jurisdiction “even
with respect to conduct entirely unrelated to the forum
state”. Kipp Ski Enterprise Corp. of Wisconsin,
Inc., 783 F.3d 695, 698 (7th Cir. 2015). Neither
jurisdictional test is satisfied in this case.
do not argue that this court has specific
jurisdiction. This court also lacks general jurisdiction
over defendant. Defendant is not incorporated in Illinois and
does not maintain its principal place of business in the
state. For general jurisdiction to exist, therefore,
plaintiffs must show some exceptional circumstance to show
that defendant is “at home” in Illinois.
Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 761 n.19.
plaintiffs had the opportunity to engage in discovery on the
issue of jurisdiction, the only fact plaintiffs identify as a
contact between defendant and Illinois is defendant's
purchase of debt belonging to Illinois consumers. Plaintiffs
do not specify any conduct defendant engaged in showing that
it even ever attempted to collect on these debts. Mere
purchase of debt is not contact with Illinois, let alone the
exceptional type of systematic or continuous conduct that
demonstrates defendant is at home in the State. See
Perez, 2016 WL 7049153, at *8 (“[I]t is
inconsistent with principles of due ...