September 28, 2017

Illinois Supreme Court Limits Personal Jurisdiction in Three Counties Named "Judicial Hellholes"

On September 21, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion aggressively limiting general personal jurisdiction over corporations. Cook, Madison, McLean and St. Clair counties in Illinois are all affected. Corporations may find this a welcome development, as Cook, Madison and St. Clair counties recently tied for the number six spot on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s 2016-17 list of the nation’s “Judicial Hellholes,” with McLean County lagging as an unranked contender.

In Aspen American Insurance Company v. Interstate Warehousing, Inc. the Illinois Supreme Court held that a corporation must be incorporated in Illinois, have its principal place of business in Illinois, or have contacts with Illinois that are “so substantial and of such a nature as to render the corporation at home in Illinois” for an Illinois court to have general personal jurisdiction. Even though the defendant was a registered foreign corporation in Illinois and its contacts with the state had “been continuous and systematic for over twenty-five years,” while doing business through a warehouse in Joliet, the Court said this was not enough. 

The Missouri Supreme Court issued a similar opinion earlier this year: State ex rel. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Dolan. With the Interstate Warehousing decision, Illinois joins Missouri, Oregon, Utah and several federal circuit courts in restricting general personal jurisdiction over corporations based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman.

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