Friday, February 8, 2013

Gray v. American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp. case brief

Gray v. American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp.
22 Ill. 2d 432

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff appealed from a decision of the Circuit Court of Cook County (Illinois), which granted defendant foreign corporation's motion to dismiss plaintiff's personal injury action for lack of jurisdiction.

FACTS: A personal injury suit was brought against several defendants, including defendant foreign corporation, alleging that a water heater exploded and injured plaintiff. The complaint charged that the foreign corporation had negligently constructed the safety valve, and that plaintiff's injuries were suffered as a proximate result thereof. A summons was issued and was duly served on the foreign corporation's registered agent in Cleveland, Ohio. The foreign corporation filed a motion to quash the summons and to dismiss the claims against it on the ground that it had not committed a tortious act in Illinois. The foreign corporation's affidavit stated that it did no business in Illinois and that it sold the completed valves to a co-defendant outside Illinois.

The circuit court granted the foreign corporation's motion to dismiss the complaint. On appeal, the court held that the foreign corporation had sufficient contacts with the State of Illinois to provide jurisdiction because the foreign corporation elected to sell its product for ultimate use in that state.

Whether the type of activity conducted within the state is adequate to satisfy the jurisdictional requirement depends upon the facts in the particular case. The question cannot be answered by applying a mechanical formula or rule of thumb but by ascertaining what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. In the application of this flexible test the relevant inquiry is whether defendant engaged in some act or conduct by which he may be said to have invoked the benefits and protections of the law of the forum.

OUTCOME: The order granting defendant foreign corporation's motion to dismiss was reversed and the case was remanded because sufficient minimum contacts existed for the trial court to exercise jurisdiction over the foreign corporation without violating due process.

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