Deckers Outdoor Corp. v. Australian Leather Pty. Ltd., No. 16 C 3676, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 25, 2017) (Shah, J.).
Judge Shah denied individual defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this Lanham Act dispute over plaintiff Deckers’ UGG and CARDY marks.
The corporate defendant Australian Leather did not challenge personal jurisdiction. The individual defendant is Australian Leather’s owner and general manager. Because Deckers only claimed specific jurisdiction, the Court only analyzed whether it had specific jurisdiction over the individual defendant. While the individual defendant claimed not to have contact with Illinois, he designed Australian Leather’s products and facilitated their sale into Illinois. He also personally directed Australian Leather to make contact with Illinois. So, he did have contact with Illinois. The issue is whether that contact was attributable to him or just to Australian Leather.
The fiduciary shield doctrine did not apply to the individual defendant because he was not merely acting at the direction of Australian Leather. As Australian Leather’s owner and managing director, his actions were also for the individual defendant’s own pecuniary interests. Additionally, the individual defendant was acting at his own behest, not that of his supervisor which is a more typical case where the fiduciary shield doctrine would apply. This analysis could have been different if, for example, the individual defendant were not also the sole owner of Australian Leather.
Furthermore, traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice were not offended by finding personal jurisdiction. The individual defendant would not be significantly burdened by defending the claims in Illinois. His company conceded jurisdiction. As owner and managing director of Australian Leather, he will play a significant role in defending Australian Leather’s suit. And both defendants share counsel.
Additionally, the Court noted that it need not undergo a piercing of the corporate veil analysis because individual personal jurisdiction did not require piercing the corporate veil.