TAMBURO v. DWORKIN (April 8, 2010)
John Tamburo designs software for dog lovers. He lives and works in Illinois. One of his products is an online database that provides pedigree information. He created the database by pulling information about pedigrees from other sources on the Internet. The sources of some of the information used by Tamburo were free public websites operated by defendants Henry, Hayes, Mills, and Dworkin. Dworkin is a Canadian resident and citizen -- the others are citizens and residents of the United States. When Henry, Hayes, and Mills discovered what Tamburo had done, they made statements on their own web sites accusing Tamburo of being a thief and of selling stolen goods. They called for a boycott of his products. They even revealed Tamburo's home address and urged their own readers to harass him. Dworkin first demanded that he remove the information from his database. When Tamburo did not do so, Dworkin sent out his own e-mails accusing Tamburo of theft and using the information for an improper purpose. Some of these messages made it to Wild Systems, an Australian company that has its own pedigree software product. Wild Systems forwarded the messages to its own e-mail list. Tamburo sued the four individuals and Wild Systems in Illinois federal court. He sought a declaration that he had violated no federal law and sought damages for antitrust violations, defamation, tortious interference, trade libel, and civil conspiracy. The district court dismissed as to all defendants on the grounds that the court lacked personal jurisdiction. Tamburo appeals.
In their opinion, Judges Bauer, Kanne, and Sykes affirmed in part and reversed in part. As an initial matter, the Court addressed the state and federal antitrust claims and concluded that the district court properly dismissed them, although they should have been dismissed for failure to state a claim. The claims were stated in a completely conclusory fashion and failed to meet the Twombly standard. The Court then turned to personal jurisdiction. Given the Illinois long-arm statute, the question for the Court was whether the defendants had sufficient "minimum contacts" with the forum to support jurisdiction. The Court concluded that none of the defendants had sufficient contacts with Illinois to support a finding of general jurisdiction. In order to establish specific jurisdiction, a) the contacts must relate directly to the challenged conduct, b) the defendant must have "purposefully directed" activities at the forum, and c) the injury must arise out of that activity. The Court looked to the Supreme Court's decision in Calder for guidance on application of the "purposefully directed" test. It found three requirements: a) intentional conduct, b) aimed at the forum state, and c) defendant's knowledge that the injury would be felt in the forum state. The Court found the first element satisfied. With respect to the second and third elements, the Court noted some tension in its decisions applying Calder -- Janmark focused on an injury in the forum state while Wallace required something more than a forum state injury. Here, there is a forum state injury arising from tortious conduct deliberately aimed at a target in the forum state. That satisfies either test and is enough to exercise personal jurisdiction over the individual defendants. With respect to Wild Systems, however, there is no allegation that it acted with knowledge of Tamburo's location or with the purpose of inflicting injury in Illinois. Thus, personal jurisdiction does not exist with respect to Wild Systems. The Court next addressed the "arise out of" requirement. Although it pointed out the conflict among the circuits with respect to the proper test, it found no need to weigh in on the issue since it concluded that the alleged injury "arose out of" the defendants' contacts even under the most rigorous approach. Finally, the Court concluded that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the individual defendants would not offend the traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.