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Kaltmayerr v. Frank Bommarito Buick GMC, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 25, 2018

DANIEL M. KALTMAYER, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK BOMMARITO BUICK GMC, INC. d/b/a Bommarito Audi West County, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) filed by defendant Frank Bommarito Buick GMC, Inc. d/b/a Bommarito Audi West County (“Bommarito”) (Doc. 15). Bommarito argues that it is not subject to the Court's personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff Daniel M. Kaltmayer has responded to the motion (Doc. 27).

         I. Background

         Kaltmayer filed this lawsuit after he took his 2016 Audi to Bommarito, where he had purchased the car, to repair trim molding that had started to peel. Bommarito is incorporated in Delaware, but is located in Missouri. The day after Kaltmayer delivered the car to Bommarito in Missouri for the repair, it was involved in an accident while being driven by a Bommarito employee.

         Kaltmayer filed this lawsuit in the Circuit Court for the Third Judicial District, Madison County, Illinois. In it, he alleges a claim for negligence (Count I) and conversion (Count II) of the 2016 Audi. After entering a limited appearance for the purpose of contesting personal jurisdiction, Bommarito removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) relying on this Court's original diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

         Bommarito filed the pending motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), arguing that it is not subject to the Court's personal jurisdiction because it does not do business in Illinois and all the acts alleged in the complaint occurred in Missouri. Kaltmayer does not dispute that Bommarito has no presence in Illinois and that the relevant events occurred in Missouri. He has provided evidence, however, that Bommarito placed advertisements in newspapers and on the internet that reached potential Illinois customers, that he purchased three vehicles from Bommarito over a four-year period, and that during that four-year period Bommarito repeatedly reached out to him in Illinois by phone and email to market its vehicles, including an individual email to him specifically marketing the 2016 Audi at issue in this case.

         II. Standard for Dismissal

         When personal jurisdiction is challenged under Rule 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).

         Here, the Court decides the pending motion to dismiss based on the written materials, resolving any factual disputes in Kaltmayer's favor. It finds that Kaltmayer has made a prima facie showing of this Court's personal jurisdiction over Bommarito.

         III. Analysis

         A 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 Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002) (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, Inc. v. Turner Diesel, Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1276 (7th Cir. 1997); Wilson v. Humphreys (Cayman), Ltd., 916 F.2d 1239 (7th Cir. 1990).

         A. Illinois Statutory Law

         Under 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 federal constitutions. 735 ILCS 5/2-209(c); Hyatt, 302 F.3d at 714; 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.

         B. Illinois ...


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