Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court Of Cook County. No. 18 L 005429 The
Honorable Daniel J. Kubasiak, Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Craig R. Annuziata, of Fisher &
Phillips, LLP of Chicago, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellee:Marc C. Smith, of Fox Rothschild LLP.,
of Chicago, for appellee.
JUSTICE WALKER delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Griffin and Justice Hyman
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 John Dixon sued GAA Classic Cars, LLC (GAA) for fraudulent
misrepresentations in connection with the sale of an
automobile at an auction livestreamed over the internet from
North Carolina. The circuit court granted GAA's motion to
dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. We
hold Dixon's allegations that GAA sent fraudulent
advertisements, emails, and phone calls to Illinois, and made
fraudulent misrepresentations on its website, suffice to give
Illinois courts personal jurisdiction over GAA. We reverse
the circuit court's judgment.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On January 25, 2018, plaintiff John Dixon saw an
advertisement posted by GAA on a car-related website. The
advertisement listed a 1973 Ford Bronco for sale at auction.
Dixon responded to the advertisement by sending an email to
GAA requesting more information about the Bronco including
how to bid for it. GAA responded with an email to Dixon,
inviting Dixon to bid on the Bronco at the auction scheduled
for March 2, 2018. GAA's email told Dixon he could
participate "via live simulcast bidding or on the
telephone via phone bidding." GAA added that Dixon could
find more information about the Bronco at GAA's website.
Dixon, via email, asked for pictures of the Bronco's
engine. GAA again responded by email that it would send him
pictures of the engine once GAA received the Bronco from its
owner. GAA told Dixon that the auction price for the Bronco
should "run around $30,000.00 - $40,000.00."
4 Dixon spoke telephonically with an agent of GAA on February
6, 2018. They discussed registration for the March auction,
and the agent offered to email the forms that Dixon needed to
return for participation in the auction. In a subsequent
phone conversation, GAA reaffirmed the representations it
made in the advertisement, that the owner had the Bronco
"Frame Off Restored in 2017" with "New Brakes
& Tires," and the Bronco was "Garage Kept &
Frequently Driven Since Restoration." GAA's agent
added that the Bronco was rated "4.5 out of 5."
Dixon returned the signed registration form to GAA, and GAA
forwarded a photograph of the Bronco via text message to
Dixon's cellphone. On February 27, 2018, GAA sent Dixon
two photographs of the Bronco's engine.
5 GAA telephoned Dixon on March 2, 2018, at his Illinois
telephone number, to obtain Dixon's bids on the Bronco.
Dixon watched GAA's simulcast of the auction, and in the
simulcast, GAA again said the Bronco was "frame off
restored." Dixon bid $37,000 for the Bronco, and he was
the highest bidder. GAA emailed a bill of sale to Dixon,
along with payment instructions. Dixon hired the shipping
transport company GAA recommended to ship the Bronco to
Illinois. On March 13, 2018, Dixon received the Bronco, and
he immediately recognized that it had significant problems
because GAA had misrepresented the Bronco's condition.
6 Dixon had the Bronco towed to a mechanic "well-versed
in the repair, building, and restoration of 1973 Ford
Broncos." The mechanic determined that the Bronco:
"(1) was not 'frame off restored; (2) was in a
mechanically and electrically unsafe condition; (3) contained
significant material defects that were purposefully hidden to
conceal their discovery and identity; (4) had significant
safety issues that were hidden to conceal their discovery and
identity; (5) was inoperable and could not have been
'frequently drive[n]' as represented by Defendant;
(6) did not have 'new brakes' as represented by
Defendant; (7) had a steering stabilizer that was worn out
and leaking; (8) did not have an operable heating system; (9)
had an illegally oversized right rear drum; (10) had cut
electrical wires controlling the turn signal connector,
windshield wiper, and interior lights; (11) contained an
engine that was not original and had been improperly
modified; and (12) was not, by any means, in a condition
where it would receive a '4.5/5' rating."
7 In May 2018, Dixon filed a complaint against GAA. The
complaint, as amended, alleged negligent misrepresentation,
fraudulent misrepresentation, deceptive practices, and
fraudulent concealment. GAA filed a motion to dismiss the
first amended complaint for lack of jurisdiction. GAA, a
North Carolina corporation with its principal place of
business in Greensboro, North Carolina, argued it did not
have on-going activity in Illinois and never purposely
availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in
8 The circuit court granted GAA's motion, finding that
the circuit court lacked specific personal jurisdiction over
GAA because GAA did not have sufficient ...