United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB DISTRICT JUDGE
Cranberry Growers Cooperative has sued defendant Maxwell Food
Products Pty. Ltd. to recover payment for the sale of three
loads of sweetened dried cranberries that plaintiff sold to
defendant. Plaintiff alleges that it contracted with
defendant to sell seven loads of sweetened dried cranberries,
and that defendant has refused to pay for the last three
loads of cranberries shipped by plaintiff.
court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a) because the two parties are of diverse citizenship:
plaintiff is a Wisconsin company and defendant is an
Australian company. Now before the court is defendant's
motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that (1) this court
lacks personal jurisdiction over defendant and (2) plaintiff
has failed to properly serve the complaint on defendant. Dkt.
#5. I conclude that this court can exercise personal
jurisdiction over defendant and that plaintiff has properly
served defendant. Therefore, I will deny defendant's
courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant where a party would be amenable to suit (1) under
the laws of the state where the federal court sits (typically
under a state long-arm statute); and (2) where jurisdiction
is consistent with the requirements of due process. KM
Enterprises, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, Inc.,
725 F.3d 718, 723 (7th Cir. 2013). If a defendant has such
systematic and continuous contact with the forum that it
might be regarded as at home there, the court can exercise
general jurisdiction, meaning that the defendant would be
subject to personal jurisdiction in that court for any claim.
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 126-27 (2014).
More limited contacts might support specific jurisdiction,
meaning that a defendant would be subject to personal
jurisdiction for claims related to its forum contacts.
has the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction when a
defendant challenges it. Northern Grain Marketing, LLC v.
Greving, 743 F.3d 487, 491 (7th Cir. 2014). Where, as
here, the issue is raised on a motion to dismiss, plaintiff
need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts.
Purdue Research Foundation v. Sanofi-Synthelabo,
S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff does
not contend that defendant is subject to general jurisdiction
in Wisconsin, so I consider only whether Wisconsin law and
constitutional due process requirements permits the exercise
of specific jurisdiction.
long-arm statute, Wis.Stat. § 801.05, has been
interpreted to confer jurisdiction “to the fullest
extent allowed under the due process clause.”
Felland v. Clifton, 682 F.3d 665, 678 (7th Cir.
2012). Plaintiff contends that this court has personal
jurisdiction over defendant under section §
801.05(5)(d), which extends personal jurisdiction in an
action which “[r]elates to goods, documents of title,
or other things of value shipped from this state by the
plaintiff to the defendant on the defendant's order or
direction.” Here, plaintiff seeks payment of the money
defendant owes for the cranberries that plaintiff shipped
from Wisconsin to defendant pursuant to the parties'
contract. Defendant effectively concedes that its contract
with plaintiff brings it within the ambit of the long-arm
statute. Dkt. #16 at 3. Therefore, I conclude that the
statutory requirement is met and I turn to the constitutional
process inquiry asks whether defendant has sufficient
“minimum contacts” with Wisconsin, such that this
suit “does not offend traditional notions of fair play
and substantial justice.” International Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotation
marks omitted). See also Illinois v. Hemi Group,
LLC, 622 F.3d 754, 757 (7th Cir. 2010). The court
considers whether “the defendant should reasonably
anticipate being haled into court in the forum state, because
the defendant has purposefully availed itself of the
privilege of conducting activities there.” Kinslow
v. Pullara, 538 F.3d 687, 691 (7th Cir. 2008). The Court
of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has identified three
essential requirements for finding the existence of minimum
contacts: “(1) the defendant must have purposefully
availed himself of the privilege of conducting business in
the forum state or purposefully directed his activities at
the state; (2) the alleged injury must have arisen from the
defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the
exercise of jurisdiction must comport with traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
Felland, 682 F.3d at 673 (internal citations
omitted). Defendant does not challenge the second factor, and
I conclude that plaintiff's alleged injury arises out of
defendant's contracting with plaintiff in Wisconsin.
However, defendant contends that plaintiff cannot show that
defendant purposely directed its activities at Wisconsin or
that exercising jurisdiction would comport with traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.
respect to contract disputes, simply “contracting with
an out-of-state party alone cannot establish automatically
sufficient minimum contacts in the other party's home
forum” to permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction.
Purdue Research Foundation, 338 F.3d at 780.
Instead, courts must conduct “a context-sensitive
analysis of the contract, examining ‘prior
negotiations, contemplated future consequences, the terms of
the contract, and the parties' course of actual dealing
with each other.'” Northern Grain
Marketing, 743 F.3d at 493 (citations omitted).
Plaintiff has submitted evidence that the parties started
discussions about a distributorship agreement in early 2017
and that they entered into a contract in February 2017.
Defendant's representatives visited plaintiff's
processing plants in Wisconsin in early 2017 to inspect
plaintiff's products. Defendant visited plaintiff's
processing facilities and cranberry bogs in Wisconsin again
in September 2017. Defendant issued purchase orders to
plaintiff in February and August 2017, which plaintiff
fulfilled between February and November 2017.
conclude that these contacts are sufficient to show that
defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of
conducting business in Wisconsin and purposefully directed
activities in Wisconsin. Defendant visited Wisconsin on more
than one occasion for the purpose of doing business with
plaintiff. Plaintiff and defendant engaged in numerous
negotiations aimed at creating a prolonged, open-ended
business relationship. This is precisely the kind of
relationship most susceptible to the exercise of specific
jurisdiction. Daniel J. Hartwig Associates v.
Kanner, 913 F.2d 1213, 1219 (7th Cir. 1990)
(“[W]here a defendant has created ‘continuing
obligations' between himself and the residents of the
forum, he manifestly avails himself of the privilege of
conducting business in that forum.”).
only remaining question is whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over defendant would offend traditional notions
of fair play and substantial justice. The burden is on the
defendant to make a “compelling case” that
exercising jurisdiction over it would be unreasonable.
Felland, 682 F.3d at 677. Courts consider the
following factors: (1) the burden on the defendant; (2) the
forum state's interest in adjudicating the dispute; (3)
the plaintiff's interest in obtaining convenient and
effective relief; (4) the interstate judicial system's
interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of
controversies; and (5) the shared interest of the several
states in furthering fundamental substantive social policies.
Id. (citations omitted).
instance, Wisconsin has an interest in adjudicating the
dispute, and plaintiff has an interest in obtaining
convenient and effective relief. However, defendant contends
that litigating this dispute in Wisconsin would impose a
significant burden on it because all of its facilities,
directors and employees related to this action are located in
Australia. In addition, defendant has no offices in
Wisconsin, does not engage in substantial business in
Wisconsin, is not licensed to do business in Wisconsin and
does not maintain a bank account in Wisconsin.
Defendant's arguments are not persuasive. Defendant
conducts business in Wisconsin and is equipped to litigate a
simple breach of contract case here. In fact, defendant has
been litigating this same dispute in the Western District of
Wisconsin bankrupcty court and in this court. Maxwell