Matushek Nilles LLC won a highly contested motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction before Judge Clare McWilliams in Cook County Circuit Court on November 26, 2019. The plaintiff, represented by the Clifford Law Offices, argued that the Illinois court had jurisdiction over U. S. Steel, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Pittsburgh, for her premises liability claim involving U. S. Steel’s Gary Works in Indiana, on the bases that 1) U. S. Steel “purposely directed its activities” at Illinois because it hired an Illinois subcontractor that employed the plaintiff’s decedent who resided in Illinois, and 2) the plaintiff’s decedent returned home with dust and dirt on his clothes and was somehow exposed to asbestos in Illinois from U. S. Steel. We refuted the evidence presented by the plaintiff and argued that these circumstances were far too attenuated and speculative to establish a connection between the defendant’s alleged negligent maintenance of its Indiana premises and its purposeful affiliations with the state of Illinois and therefore haling U. S. Steel into an Illinois court for an Indiana premises claim violated its right to due process. The court agreed with our position, and granted our motion to dismiss.
This ruling demonstrates what many defense counsel in asbestos litigation forget – merely because a plaintiff makes an initial prima facie showing that the court has personal jurisdiction, the defense should not rest there. The evidence can often be worked up to rebut the plaintiffs’ initial showing, and if defense counsel presses a jurisdiction objection to hearing, the defense can still prevail.