United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
J.S.T. CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
FOXCONN INTERCONNECT TECHNOLOGY LTD.; FOXCONN INTERCONNECT TECHNOLOGY USA, INC.; FIT ELECTRONICS INC.; FOXCONN ELECTRONICS INC.; FOXCONN KUNSHAN COMPUTER CONNECTOR CO. LTD.; HON HAI PRECISION INDUSTRY CO. LTD.; HON YEH PRECISION COMPONENT KUNSHAN CO., LTD; and TE CONNECTIVITY CORPORATION, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA M. KENDALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
J.S.T. Corporation (“JST”) brings this action
against Foxconn Interconnect Technology LTD.
(“FIT”), Foxconn Interconnect Technology (USA),
Inc. (“FIT USA”), FIT Electronics Inc., Foxconn
Electronics Inc. (“FEI”), Foxconn (Kunshan)
Computer Connector Co. Ltd., Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.
Ltd., Hon Yeh Precision Component (Kunshan) Co., Ltd,
(collectively the “Foxconn Defendants”) and TE
Connectivity Corporation (“TEC”) alleging trade
secret misappropriation and unjust enrichment. The Foxconn
Defendants and TEC moved to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction arguing that neither has sufficient
minimum contacts with Illinois to allow them to be haled into
court here. For the reasons stated within, Defendants'
Motions are granted.
following facts are based on the allegations in
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint along with the
affidavits submitted by Defendants that refute or supplement
the Plaintiffs' allegations.
in 2005, non-party Robert Bosch GmbH or Robert Bosch, LLC
(“Bosch”) and JST entered into an agreement for
JST to design and develop an electric connector to be used in
Bosch's Body Control Module (“BCM”). (Dkt.
64, ¶ 49). The product JST developed became known as the
HIT2 Connector. See (Id. at ¶ 51). The
first HIT2 Connectors were shipped to Bosch in July 2008 and
ultimately resulted in over 15, 000, 000 connectors being
sent to Bosch. (Id. at ¶¶ 57-58). Once
supplied to Bosch, Bosch then assembles the HIT2 into its
BCM. (Id. at ¶ 58). The BCMs are then
incorporated into several General Motors vehicles, which are
distributed globally. (Id. at ¶ 59).
point in time, Bosch obtained JST's trade secrets
relating to the HIT2. (Id. at ¶¶ 85-87).
Bosch proceeded to share this trade secret information with
Foxconn and TEC through a Request for Quotation process to
find an alternative source for JST's HIT2. (Id.
at ¶¶ 89-91). “One or more” of the
Foxconn Defendants, along with TEC contracted with Bosch to
provide a 183-Pin electric connector for Bosch's Global A
BCM. (Id. at ¶¶93-94). Following its
discovery that Bosch planned to find an alternative source
for the HIT2, JST commenced an investigation and filed a
lawsuit against Bosch for misappropriation of trade secrets
in the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of Michigan. (Id. at ¶¶105-106).
an Illinois corporation which is headquartered in Waukegan,
Illinois. (Id. at ¶ 3). FIT is a Cayman Island
corporation, with its headquarters in Taiwan. (Id.
at ¶ 14). FIT has not engaged in any sales contracts
with Illinois customers regarding the 183-Pin Connector.
(Dkt. 25-7, pg. 4). FIT USA is incorporated in Texas and has
its headquarters in San Jose, California. (Dkt. 64, ¶
19). FIT USA does not sell products in Illinois, have
contractors or agents in Illinois, have contracts with
Illinois businesses or residents, or obtain materials from
Illinois. (Dkt. 25-7, pg. 4). FIT Electronics is incorporated
in California, with its headquarters in San Jose, California.
(Dkt. 64, ¶ 4). While FIT Electronics has an
office in Champaign, Illinois, the office is not involved in
any activity relating to the 183-Pin Connector. (Dkt. 25-7,
pg. 2). FIT Electronics does have contracts with vendors
located in Illinois, but these contracts are not related to
the 183-Pin Connector. (Id.). FEI is incorporated in
California, with its headquarters in San Jose, California.
(Dkt. 64, ¶ 8). FEI does not sell products in
Illinois, have contractors or agents in Illinois, have
contracts with Illinois businesses or residents, or obtain
materials from Illinois. (Dkt. 25-7, pg. 3). Hon Hai is
incorporated and headquartered in Taiwan. (Dkt. 64,
¶ 23). Hon Hai is not involved in any activity relating
to the 183-Pin Connector. See (Dkts. 25-8, 25-9,
25-10, 25-11, 25-12, 52-1, 25-15, 25-16). TEC is incorporated
and has its principal place of business in Pennsylvania.
(Dkt. 47-1). TEC has a single Illinois location in Mundelein
and none of the Mundelein employees are involved with the
183-Pin Connector. (Dkts. 47-2, 47-3). TEC manufactures the
183-Pin Connector in North Carolina and then sells 100% of
these connectors to Bosch in Texas. (Dkt. 47-4, pg. 3). TEC
has never sold or shipped the 183-Pin Connector to Illinois.
(Id. at pg. 4).
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2) challenges whether the reviewing court has personal
jurisdiction over all of the named defendants. Generally, a
complaint does not need to include facts alleging personal
jurisdiction. Steel Warehouse of Wisconsin, Inc. v.
Leach, 154 F.3d 712, 715 (7th Cir. 1998).
“However, once the defendant moves to dismiss the
complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for
lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden
of demonstrating the existence of jurisdiction.”
Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A.,
338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). In the absence of an
evidentiary hearing to determine personal jurisdiction, the
district court may rely on the submission of written
materials in ruling on a motion to dismiss. Northern
Grain Marketing, LLC v. Greving, 743 F.3d 487, 491 (7th
Cir. 2014). In such a scenario, plaintiff only needs to
establish a prima facie case of personal
jurisdiction. Id. Any factual disputes are resolved
in plaintiff's favor. Id. Though, the court
“accept[s] as true any facts contained in the
defendant's affidavits that remain unrefuted by the
plaintiff.” GCIU-Employer Ret. Fund v. Goldfarb
Corp., 565 F.3d 1018, 1020 n.1 (7th Cir. 2009).
Process Clause requires, as a baseline threshold, that an
out-of-state defendant must have 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.'” Int'l Shoe Co.
v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting
Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)).
Jurisdiction over a defendant cannot be the result of random,
fortuitous contacts, but rather must be the result of a
defendant purposefully availing itself of the forum and its
benefits. Purdue, 338 F.3d at 780. Personal
jurisdiction takes two forms-general and specific
jurisdiction. Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117,
126-29 (2014). A court has general jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant when the defendant's contacts with
the forum “are so constant and pervasive ‘as to
render [it] essentially at home in the forum
state.'” Id. at 122 (quoting Goodyear
Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915,
919 (2011)). General jurisdiction in Illinois courts exists
when a defendant has engaged in “permanent and systemic
business activity in Illinois.” Russell v.
SNFA, 370 Ill.Dec. 12, 21 (2013).
personal jurisdiction is appropriate where (1) the defendant
has purposefully directed his activities at the forum state
or purposefully availed himself of the privilege of
conducting business in that state, and (2) the alleged injury
arises out of the defendant's forum-related
activities.” Tamburo v. Dworkin, 601 F.3d 693,
702 (7th Cir. 2010). When the alleged injury is the result of
an intentional tort, such as trade secrets misappropriation,
“the inquiry focuses on whether the conduct underlying
the claims was purposely directed at the forum state.”
Id; see also Advanced Tactical Ordnance Sys., LLC v. Real
Action Paintball, Inc., 751 F.3d 796, 801 (7th Cir.
2014) (“The relevant contacts are those that center on
the relations among the defendant, the forum, and the
litigation.”). No. amount of unrelated connections to a
forum can overcome the lack of defendant's activities
linked to the underlying claim. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., 137
S.Ct. 1773, 1781 (2017). The Court “cannot simply
aggregate all of a defendant's contacts with a state-no
matter how dissimilar in terms of geography, time, or
substance-as evidence of the constitutionally-required
minimum contacts.” RAR, Inc. v. Turner Diesel,
Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1277 (7th Cir. 1997).
does not contend that the Foxconn Defendants or TEC are
subject to general jurisdiction in Illinois. Nor could it as
none of the Defendants are incorporated in Illinois, have
their principal place of business in Illinois, or otherwise
engage in “permanent and systemic business
activity” in the forum. See Dkt. 64. Instead,
TEC relies on the stream of commerce theory in support of
their claim of specific personal jurisdiction. (Dkt. 40-1,
pg. 7); (Dkt. 60, pg. 9). The stream of commerce theory of
personal jurisdiction stems from the Supreme Court's
decision in World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson.
444 U.S. 286 (1980). “The forum State does not exceed
its powers under the Due Process Clause if it asserts
personal jurisdiction over a corporation that delivers its
products into the stream of commerce with the expectation
that they will be purchased by consumers in the forum
state.” Id. at 297-98. As noted by the Supreme
Court of Illinois, “the evolution of the
stream-of-commerce theory has not been consistent” as
narrow and broad theories of application have spun off from
the original World-Wide Volkswagen decision.
Russell, 370 Ill.Dec. at 22-25. Illinois courts have
explicitly declined to “adopt either the broad or
narrow version of the theory without more definitive guidance
from a majority of the United States Supreme Court.”
Id. at 28. Here, the parties expend considerable
time in debating whether the broad or narrow construct of the
stream-of-commerce theory is at play, but the eventual answer
is of little import. Ultimately, the question the Court must
answer is simple: Have the Defendants, in a manner connected
to the allegedly wrongful actions in the Second Amended
Complaint, targeted the forum state-Illinois? See Real
Action Paintball, 751 F.3d at 801.
Second Amended Complaint, JST alleges that Bosch provided JST
trade secrets to the Foxconn Defendants and TEC and each in
turn contracted with Bosch to manufacture and supply the
183-Pin Connector to Bosch. (Dkt. 64, ¶¶ 89, 91,
93-94, 115). Notably absent from these allegations is that
any of the alleged wrongful activity occurred in Illinois,
was directed at Illinois, or that the conduct is somehow
related to Defendants' other contacts with the state. To
be sure, the Second Amended Complaint does contain language
that purports to overcome this hurdle. See e.g.,
(id. at ¶ 7) (“On information and belief,
FIT Electronics has purposefully directed its activities
relating to Foxconn 183-pin connectors at consumers in
Illinois. For example, FIT Electronics has used JST Trade
Secrets … in the design, construction and manufacture
of Foxconn 183-pin connectors used in body control modules
which FIT Electronics knows and expects will be directed
through established channels of commerce to purchasers of
automobiles and automobile parts in Illinois.”). Such
broad sweeping platitudes may do well in satisfying a
prima facie case of personal jurisdiction, but more
is needed where, as here, Defendants have submitted
Declarations contravening such allegations. See e.g.,
United Airlines, Inc. v. Zaman,152 F.Supp.3d 1041, 1045
(N.D. Ill. Apr. 30, 2015) (“When Defendant challenges
by declaration a fact alleged in the Complaint, Plaintiff has
an obligation to go beyond the pleadings and submit
affirmative evidence supporting the exercise of