United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
THOMAS C. SOURAN, Plaintiff,
DELAWARE STATE FAIR, INC, et al., Defendants.
RECOMMENDATION THAT THE PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT BE
DISMISSED FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION
WILLIAM E. DUFFIN, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
C. Souran, an experienced pro se plaintiff, see,
e.g., 11-CV-7986 (N.D. Ill.); 12-CV-9375 (N.D. Ill.);
13-CV-4031 (N.D. Ill.); 13-CV-4519 (N.D. Ill.); 17-CV-1155
(C.D. Ill.); 17-CV-1156 (C.D. Ill.); 17-CV-1197 (C.D. Ill.);
18-CV-1031 (C.D. Ill.); 18-CV-1033 (C.D. Ill.), who is again
representing himself, filed the present action naming the
Delaware State Fair, Inc., Robin L. Rockemann, and Reginald
Carter as defendants. He seeks leave to proceed without
prepayment of the filing fee. (ECF No. 2.)
to his complaint, Souran sought to sell wild game meats at
the 2019 Delaware State Fair but encountered problems with
health inspectors. Although Souran alleges the health
inspectors eventually were going to allow Souran to operate
his stand, he claims Rockemann closed the stand and required
Souran to leave to Fair. Souran alleges Rockemann agreed to
refund half of the fees Souran paid but refused to do so
because the application fee Souran paid had not yet cleared.
Souran then attempted to have UPS pick up his inventory but
the Fair allegedly refused to allow UPS to pick up the
property. He alleges claims of fraudulent misrepresentation,
breach of contract, and unjust enrichment.
reviewed Souran's motion, the court concludes he lacks
the financial means to pay the filing fee. Therefore, the
court grants the motion to proceed without prepayment.
the court notes an obvious question as to whether the court
has personal jurisdiction over the defendants. Outside of the
context of a plaintiff seeking default judgment, a federal
court generally will not sua sponte consider whether it has
personal jurisdiction over a defendant. See Syrrakos v.
Def Jam Recordings, No. 14-C-1197, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
143298, at *2 (E.D. Wis. Oct. 7, 2014); Flava Works, Inc.
v. Doe, No. 12 C 07869, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7361, at
*11 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 21, 2014). However, there are exceptions.
Flint v. Harris County, No. 1:10-cv-03171, 2010 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 84914, at *2-4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 5, 2010); cf.
First Nat'l Bank v. Bezema, 569 F.Supp. 818, 819
(S.D. Ind. 1983) (“the rule that a court may not sua
sponte dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction does not
apply where a defendant has not entered an appearance by
filing a motion or otherwise”).
court concludes it is appropriate here to sua sponte consider
the question of personal jurisdiction. The alternative is to
require the defendants to incur the significant costs of
retaining counsel to appear in this district merely to file a
motion to dismiss. That strikes the court as not only
inefficient but unjust. Although the defendants may waive
personal jurisdiction, the court regards this possibility as
exceedingly remote under the facts of this case.
the court finds that, given the facts alleged in the
complaint, even if the defendants waived personal
jurisdiction venue would not be proper in this district.
“[A] substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim” did not occur here, nor is “a
substantial part of property that is the subject of the
action” situated here. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
Venue appears proper only in the District of Delaware. And,
finally, even if Souran could demonstrate venue was proper
here, it would nonetheless be appropriate to transfer this
action to the District of Delaware under 28 U.S.C. §
This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because,
inter alia, they have purposefully participated in activities
relating to breach of contract with Plaintiff, solicitation
and acceptance of funds through the internet while the
Plaintiff and Plaintiffs bank is located in Wisconsin, which
are part of the subject matter of this action, into the
Eastern District of Wisconsin. For example, Defendants
entered into an agreement with Plaintiff so Plaintiff can be
a concessionaire at the Delaware State Fair July 18, 2019 to
July 28, 2019. The Agreement was signed by Plaintiff while
domiciled in Union Grove, Wisconsin and transmitted to
Defendants through the internet. Plaintiff expected to have
an executed Agreement sent back or handed to Plaintiff once
he arrived in Delaware.
This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because,
inter alia, they have purposefully directed Plaintiffs
activities relating to Plaintiffs participation at the
Delaware State Fair, there breach of contract, Fraudulent
Misrepresentation, and Unjust enrichment which are the
subject matter of this action, into the Eastern District of
Defendants have established the requisite minimum contacts
with this District, and exercise of jurisdiction would
comport with traditional notions of substantial justice and
(ECF No. 1, ¶ 10-11.)
constitutional touchstone' of the determination whether
an exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with due
process ‘remains whether the defendant purposefully
established ‘minimum contacts' in the forum
State.'” Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior
Court of Cal., 480 U.S. 102, 108-09 (1987) (quoting
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474
(1985)). These minimum contacts with the foreign state must
be of a nature that the defendant could “reasonably
anticipate being haled into court there.” Burger
King, 471 U.S. at 474 (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen
Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980)). Thus, the
defendant must have purposefully availed himself “of
the privilege of conducting activities within the forum
State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its
laws.” Asahi Metal, 480 U.S. at 109 (quoting
Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475).
jurisdictional allegations against the Delaware State Fair,
Inc. and Robin L. Rockemann are merely that Souran was in
Wisconsin when he submitted his application to them via the
internet, and the fees Souran paid to the defendants were
processed by Souran's bank in Wisconsin. These contacts
are insufficient to vest this court with personal
jurisdiction over the Delaware State Fair, Inc. and Robin L.
Rockemann. See, e.g., Snodgrass v. Berklee Coll. of
Music, 559 Fed.Appx. 541, 542 (7th Cir. 2014);
Matlin v. Spin Master Corp., No. 17 C 07706, 2018
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122014, at *11 (N.D. Ill. July 20, 2018);
Hy Cite Corp. v. Badbusinessbureau.com, L.L.C., 297
F.Supp.2d 1154, 1164 (W.D. Wis. 2004). And as ...