Weber-Stephen Prods., LLC v. Char-Broil, LLC, No. 16 C 4483, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 5, 2016) (Gettleman, J.).
Judge Gettleman denied defendant Char-Broil’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and granted Char-Broil’s corporate parent Bradley’s motion to dismiss on the same grounds. The Court also granted defendants’ motion to transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to M.D. Georgia for consolidation with an earlier filed case defendants brought against plaintiff Weber-Stephen in this Lanham Act case involving Weber’s three-legged kettle grill design.
The Court held that it had personal jurisdiction over Char-Broil based upon Char-Broil’s interactive website which allowed users to purchase products from Illinois, as well as various third party websites and brick and mortar stores where people may purchase Char-Broil products from Illinois.
Bradley’s ownership and control of Char-Broil alone were not enough for specific jurisdiction. Even though Bradley and Char-Broil shared one executive and Bradley allegedly provides Char-Broil strategic plans, Bradley was not subject to specific personal jurisdiction in Illinois.
The Court held that venue was proper in both the N.D. Illinois and the M.D. Georgia. Weber’s choice of forum was less important in this instance because of defendants’ earlier filed case in the M.D. Georgia. And the situs of material events was in the M.D. Georgia because of the parties’ 1974 settlement agreement that was part of the case. Furthermore, the design and development of the accused grill were performed in the M.D. Georgia. And at least one third party witness in Georgia would find travel to Illinois difficult due to advanced age. Finally, the relative congestion of the dockets and time to trial favored transfer.