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Personal Jurisdiction Updates From Illinois:

Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling concerning personal jurisdiction in Aspen American Insurance Co. v. Interstate Warehousing, Inc. 2017 IL 121281. This decision finally clarifies the issue of whether simply registering to do business in Illinois is sufficient to consent to general personal jurisdiction. The Illinois Supreme Court also reviewed the Illinois long-arm statute in relation to federal due process standards.

In Aspen American Insurance Co., plaintiff filed suit in Cook County, Illinois against an Indiana corporation with its principal place of business in Indiana for an accident which occurred in Michigan. Plaintiff alleged goods it insured were damaged when the roof of defendant's Michigan warehouse collapsed. Plaintiff alleged Illinois courts had jurisdiction over defendant as the defendant had a warehouse in Joliet, Illinois and this warehouse was sufficient to establish jurisdiction under Illinois' long-arm statute as it showed defendant had "continuous and substantial business activity in Illinois" and that defendant was doing business in Illinois. Id., at 5, 8.

The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed. The Court cited to Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746, 754 (2014), and stated that under federal due process standards, the "plaintiff must show that defendant is incorporated or has its principal place of business in Illinois or that defendant's contacts with Illinois are so substantial as to render" it an exceptional case. Id., at 7. A defendant's contacts must be so continuous and systematic as to render it "at home" in the state. Id., at 5-6. The Court also held that the section of Illinois' long-arm statute that permits jurisdiction over those "doing business within" the state "cannot constitutionally be applied to establish general jurisdiction where . . . there is no evidence that defendant's contacts with Illinois have rendered it 'essentially at home' in this state." Id., at 8. The Court found no general personal jurisdiction over defendant as it was not incorporated in Illinois, it did not have its principal place of business in Illinois, nor was it "at home" in Illinois. Id., at 7-8.

The Illinois Supreme Court also held having a registered agent in Illinois is not consent to general personal jurisdiction in Illinois. "[I]n the absence of any language to the contrary, the fact that a foreign corporation has registered to do business under the Act [Business Corporation Act of 1983] does not mean that the corporation has thereby consented to general jurisdiction over all causes of action, including those that are completely unrelated to the corporation's activities in Illinois."

This case is an important case in Illinois as it provides guidance as to how the due process principals of Daimler interact with the Illinois long-arm statute, and it clears up any confusion over whether having a registered agent in Illinois was sufficient to find consent to general personal jurisdiction in the state.

While Aspen American Insurance shows the difficulty in establishing general personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant company, the case of M.M. ex rel. Meyers v. GlaxoSmithKline LLC, shows how states have begun to enlarge the reach of specific jurisdiction. 2016 IL App (1st) 151909, 61 N.E.3d 1026. While Meyers was ruled on by the 1st Appellate District of Illinois in August of 2016, the United States Supreme Court recently denied GlaxoSmithKline's petition for writ of certiorari. Thus, the Appellate Court's decision stands. The Appellate Court found GlaxoSmithKline's limited number of drug trials in Illinois were sufficient to establish specific personal jurisdiction as the plaintiff's injuries allegedly arose from acts of omissions in the trials which resulted in inadequate warning labels. This case shows that even a small connection to a state may be used to input specific jurisdiction over a defendant if that connection was reasonably related to the lawsuit.

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