Personal Jurisdiction

A Law License Does Not Establish Personal Jurisdiction

Posted on Updated on

Elham Sheikholeslam (“Sheikholeslam”), an Iranian citizen, sued attorney Antonin Favreau (“Favreau”), a Canadian citizen, in Cook County, Illinois for alleged fraud and malpractice in Favreau’s representation of her in an immigration matter.  Favreau moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  He explained that although he was licensed to practice in Illinois, he had no office in Illinois, had never practiced in Illinois, never had any contact with Sheikholeslam in Illinois, never performed any services for her in Illinois, and resided exclusively in Canada.  His only connection to Sheikholeslam was his affiliation with ACIC Management Co. Ltd. (“ACIC”), an immigration services company based in the British Virgin Islands that Sheikholeslam had retained, and on whose behalf Favreau had signed a client representation agreement with Sheikholeslam.

The trial court granted Favreau’s motion, agreeing that he did not possess “such connections to Illinois that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court here and somehow purposely availed himself of the privilege of conducting activities in Illinois so that he invoked the benefits and protection of Illinois law.”  Id. at ¶14.  The First District affirmed, rejecting Sheikholeslam’s argument that the trial court had personal jurisdiction, either specific or general, simply because Favreau could only have rendered his services by virtue of having his Illinois license.  More precisely, the court lacked specific jurisdiction over Favreau because he “performed no relevant action or event in Illinois within the period relevant to plaintiff’s causes of action.”  Id. at ¶25.  As to general jurisdiction, the First District reached the same conclusion, reiterating that Favreau “resides in Canada and his only relevant connection to Illinois is his law license, having not been in Illinois since he sat for the bar examination in 2013.”  Id. at ¶24.

Sheikholeslam v. Favreau, 2019 IL App (1st) 181703

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

 

Mizrachi v. Ordower, 2019 WL 918478

Posted on Updated on

Joseph Mizrachi (“Mizrachi”) sued his former attorneys, Lawrence Ordower (“Ordower”) and Ordower & Ordower, PC, for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with acquisition of a corporation and related litigation. Ordower filed a third-party complaint for contribution against attorney James Smith and the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP (together “Kilpatrick”), which also represented Mizrachi.  Kilpatrick moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.  The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, sitting in diversity jurisdiction, granted the motion.

Regarding general jurisdiction, the Court explained that Kilpatrick “was not organized in Illinois, nor is its principal place of business here… it does not have an office in this state.”  Id. at 2.  At most, some of Kilpatrick’s attorneys based in other states were licensed to practice in Illinois and represent clients there; sometimes in litigation.  However, the Court held that such contacts were not sufficiently extensive or pervasive as to approximate the physical presence required for general jurisdiction.  The Court reached the same conclusion with respect to specific jurisdiction, explaining that “the only contact between Kilpatrick and Illinois… is that Kilpatrick knew it was representing a defendant based, at least partly, in Illinois.”  Id.   Nevertheless, “the mere fact that a defendant’s conduct affects a plaintiff with connections to the forum State is not sufficient to establish jurisdiction.” Id.

Mizrachi v. Ordower, 2019 WL 918478

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Brook v. McCormley, 873 F.3d 549 (7th Cir. 2017)

Posted on Updated on

 

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice claim on the ground that Illinois lacked personal jurisdiction over an Arizona lawyer and the Arizona firm where he worked. The court did a traditional personal jurisdiction analysis. It first noted that there were no allegations of general jurisdiction over defendants. As to specific jurisdiction, the court noted that the lawyer and law firm were engaged by an Illinois resident for representation related to Arizona land. The lawyer and law firm did not solicit the client and never traveled to Illinois. There were telephone and other contacts with the Illinois resident. Nonetheless, the court held that the lawyer did not create contact with Illinois sufficient to establish specific jurisdiction.

Brook v. McCormley, 873 F.3d 549 (7th Cir. 2017)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Knaus v. Guidry, 389 Ill. App. 3d 804, 906 N.E.2d 644, 329 Ill. Dec. 446 (1st Dist. 2009)

Posted on Updated on

Knaus v. Guidry, 389 Ill. App. 3d 804, 906 N.E.2d 644, 329 Ill. Dec. 446 (1st Dist. 2009)