United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
District Court Judge 
MEMORANDUM OPINON AND ORDER
I. SCHENKIER MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Manuel Von Ribbeck, filed this defamation and interference
with prospective contractual relations lawsuit against
defendant, Christine Negroni, in the Circuit Court of Cook
County, Illinois. The case was subsequently removed to
federal court (doc. #1). After plaintiff filed a second
amended complaint ("SAC") (doc. # 24), defendant
moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6), arguing that no general jurisdiction
or specific jurisdiction exists over her and that the SAC
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted (doc.
## 29, 34). Defendant submitted her affidavit in support of
the motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction
(doc. # 34-5: Negroni Aff).
to responding to the motion to dismiss, plaintiff sought
leave of court to conduct jurisdictional discovery. After a
meet and confer between the parties, Judge Blakey permitted
jurisdictional discovery in the form of a two-hour deposition
of Ms. Negroni (doc. #35: Order 5/21/19; doc. # 40: Tr.
5/21/19). Ms. Negroni's deposition took place on July 11,
2019 (doc. # 43-2: Negroni Dep.). At a status hearing before
Judge Blakey on July 17, 2019, the parties informed the Court
that Ms. Negroni's deposition took place, that there were
objections and instructions not to answer at the deposition,
and that plaintiff served document requests seeking what he
asserted was jurisdictional discovery (doc. # 45: Tr.
7/17/19). The district court admonished the parties to meet
and confer regarding the "discovery requests" and
stated that if they were related to the jurisdictional issue,
the district court did not "have any problem with
them" (Id.). The district court also set a
briefing schedule on any motion to compel deposition answers
or motion to quash discovery requests in the event the
parties could not work out their disputes (doc. #41: Order
subsequent meet and confer did not resolve the parties'
discovery disputes. Pending before this Court are two
discovery motions: (1) plaintiffs motion to compel answers to
deposition questions and memorandum in support (doc. #51:
Motion to Compel; doc. # 53: Memorandum in support of Motion
to Compel ("PL Memo.")) and (2) defendant's
motion to quash the notice to produce and memorandum in
support (doc. # 42: Motion to Quash; doc. # 43: Memorandum in
support of Motion to Quash ("Def. Memo.")).
Defendant filed a response to the motion to compel (doc. #
57: Response to Motion to Compel ("Def. Resp."))
and plaintiff filed a response to the motion to quash (doc.
#55: Response to Motion to Quash ("PI. Resp.")).
For the following reasons we grant in part and deny in part
the motion to compel and we grant without prejudice the
motion to quash.
the following factual background from the SAC and Ms.
Negroni's affidavit in support of her motion to dismiss.
Mr. von Ribbeck is an attorney who is licensed to practice
law in Illinois and concentrates his law practice in aviation
litigation (SAC ¶¶ 2, 3). Mr. von Ribbeck currently
represents families who lost relatives in the Lion Air Flight
610 crash that occurred in Indonesia on October 29, 2018
(Id. ¶ 4). Ms. Negroni is a blogger who
specializes in aviation and travel writing (SAC ¶¶
5, 6). At issue in this case is a blog post entitled
"Lion Air Lawyer Accused of Sexual Assault in 2010"
(the "Post") that Ms. Negroni published on December
17, 2018 (doc. # 24-1: Ex. 1 to SAC). Ms. Negroni is a
Connecticut resident and has lived and worked there since
1993 (doc. # 34-5: Negroni Aff. ¶ 3).
to the assertions in her affidavit, Ms. Negroni does not own
or rent real estate in Illinois and she has not resided in
Illinois since 1993 (Negroni Aff. ¶ 4). Since that time,
she has only occasionally passed through O'Hare
International Airport en route to other destinations, and she
spent one three-day family vacation in Illinois (Id.
¶ 5). Ms. Negroni states that she does not conduct
business in Illinois (Negroni Aff. ¶ 6). Rather, she
conducts her research and writing in Connecticut, including
the calling and emailing of sources for the Post
(Id. ¶ 7). Ms. Negroni does not specifically
market her blog, and did not specifically market the Post, in
Illinois and does not target Illinois residents (Id.
¶ 9). She tweeted regarding the Post on December 17 and
18, 2018 and included hashtags for Chicago and Jason Meisner,
a Chicago Tribune reporter, in those tweets because a Lion
Air case was filed in Chicago and Mr. Meisner was
"working" the story (Id. ¶¶ 10,
Negroni was deposed on July 11, 2019 in Connecticut and was
represented by counsel. After certain questions were asked of
Ms. Negroni, her attorney "lodge[d] a continuing
objection to questions that go to general jurisdiction,"
that were not "suit related" and invoked the
Connecticut Reporter's Privilege thus instructing Ms. Negroni
not to answer numerous questions based on one or more of
those objections (doc. # 43-2: Negroni Dep. at
After that deposition, plaintiff served a document request on
defendant seeking information he claims is relevant to
motion to compel argues that Ms. Negroni was required to
answer those questions she refused to answer, claiming they
address her contacts with the state of Illinois. Defendant
claims the questions were improper because they concerned
general jurisdiction and the deposition was limited to
questions regarding specific jurisdiction, were not
suit-related, or were protected pursuant to the
reporter's privilege. Defendant's overlapping motion
to quash likewise places in issue whether plaintiff is
entitled to discovery regarding a theory of general
jurisdiction and whether certain information he seeks is
privileged. We address each motion in turn, starting with
plaintiffs motion to compel.
addressing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2), a court
has both the discretion to allow jurisdictional discovery and
the authority to prescribe its limits. Duracell U.S.
Operations, Inc. v. JRS Ventures, Inc., No. 17 C 3166,
2018 WL 704686, *1 (N.D. 111. Feb. 5, 2018) (collecting
cases). An instruction not to answer a deposition question is
governed by Federal Rule Civil Procedure 30(c)(2): "A
person may instruct a deponent not to answer only when
necessary to preserve a privilege, to enforce a limitation
ordered by the court, or to present a motion under Rule
30(d)(3)." A lawyer may not instruct a witness not to
answer, and a witness may not decline to answer a question,
on any other basis. Redwood v. Dobson, 476 F.3d 462,
467-68 (7th Cir. 2007).
jurisdiction can be established by demonstrating either
general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction. General
jurisdiction exists when a party's contact with the forum
state is "continuous and systematic." Brook v.
McCormley, 873 F.3d 549, 552 (7th Cir. 2017).
"Specific jurisdiction requires a defendant's
contacts with the forum State to be directly related to the
conduct pertaining to the claims asserted" and the focus
of the inquiry is on "the relationship among the
defendant, the forum, and the litigation." Id.
(citations omitted). Unless Ms. Negroni can show that the
district judge barred any inquiry into general jurisdiction,
she was required to answer questions at her deposition on
that theory of jurisdiction. Defendant has failed to show
that the district judge limited jurisdictional discovery to
an inquiry into specific jurisdiction.
May 21st status hearing, the district judge permitted
"jurisdictional discovery" in the form of a
two-hour deposition of Ms. Negroni (doc. # 35: Order 5/21/19;
doc. # 40: Tr. 5/21/19 at 2, 3, 6, 7, 8). At no point during
the status hearing did either party or the district judge
utter the words general or specific jurisdiction; rather, all
that was discussed was "jurisdictional discovery."
Additionally, in explaining his preference for a deposition
instead of interrogatories to conduct the jurisdictional
discovery at issue, plaintiff argued that a deposition would
be more efficient to ask Ms. Negroni about the "stuff
she's done for the Chicago Tribune, her not making
substantial income, and if she really "talks to people
at Boeing on the phone" (Tr. 5/21/19 at 5). These types
of questions can fall under the "general" category
of jurisdiction and are some of the same topics to which
defendant objected at the deposition.
defendant did not seek a protective order to limit her
deposition to topics related solely to specific jurisdiction,
which was a course she could have pursued under Rule
30(c)(2). Rather, defendant now argues that plaintiff waived
any assertion of general jurisdiction because plaintiff did
not allege it in the SAC. Defendant relies on RAR, Inc.
v. Turner Diesel, Ltd, 107 F.3d 1272, 1277 (7th Cir.
1997), for its finding that because the plaintiff never
alleged defendant had "systematic contacts with
Illinois," the plaintiff waived any general jurisdiction
argument (Def. Resp. at 2, 6).
no waiver here. "A plaintiff need not specifically
allege facts supporting jurisdiction in her complaint."
Winston v. Martinair, Inc., No. 06 C 5130, 2007 WL
684113, *3 (N.D. 111. Feb. 26, 2007). Plaintiffs SAC alleges
in part that jurisdiction over Ms. Negroni is proper in
Illinois because Ms. Negroni "otherwise engage[ed] in
business in this State" (SAC ¶ 25). The SAC also
mentions the Chicago Tribune article Ms. Negroni authored in
April 2017 and her work with other journalists in Chicago
investigating plaintiff (SAC ¶¶ 21-23).
motion to dismiss discussed both general and specific
jurisdiction. Specifically, Ms. Negroni argued that she is
not subject to the general jurisdiction of the Court because
she does not have "continuous and systematic"
contact with Illinois (doc. # 34: Memo. In Support of Motion
to Dismiss at 8). Her affidavit in support also mentioned a
freelance article she wrote two years ago for the Chicago
Tribune, her three-day family visit to Illinois three years
ago, and certain hashtags for Chicago and Mr. Meisner that
she used in her tweets on December 17 and 18, 2018 about the
Post (Negroni Aff. ¶¶ 4, 5, 10, 11). "[W]here
a party injects an issue into a case, there can be no
legitimate objection to the opponent being able to take
appropriate discovery to ascertain the truth of ...