Landa v. DPK Communities, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order signed by the Honorable Elaine E. Bucklo on 1/10/2022. (mgh, )
Case: 1:21-cv-01529 Document #: 27 Filed: 01/10/22 Page 1 of 10 PageID #:63
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
DPK Communities, LLC et al.,
) No. 21-cv-1529
Memorandum Opinion and Order
Plaintiff Shawn Landa brings the instant action against DPK
Communities, LLC (“DPK”), his former employer, as well as against
asserting claims for unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards
Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and common-law contract
Defendants now move to dismiss the action under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) on the grounds that this court
lacks personal jurisdiction over them.
For the reasons that
follow, the motion to dismiss  is denied without prejudice.
Mr. Landa sued Dennis “Pasquelino,” but because Mr. Pasqualino
indicated in his affidavit that Mr. Landa misspelled his last name,
see ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 3, I will refer to him here as Mr. “Pasqualino,”
which I understand to be the correct spelling.
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A federal complaint “need not include facts alleging personal
Purdue Rsch. Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A.,
338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Steel Warehouse of Wis.,
Inc. v. Leach, 154 F.3d 712, 715 (7th Cir. 1998)).
a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss is filed, the burden falls upon
the plaintiff to demonstrate that personal jurisdiction exists.
Where, as here, an evidentiary hearing has not been held, the
plaintiff may meet his burden by establishing a prima facie case
of personal jurisdiction.
The plaintiff “is entitled to the
resolution in its favor of all disputes concerning relevant facts
presented in the record,” including having “any conflicts in the
affidavits resolved in its favor.”
With the briefing on the
Pasqualino, Ms. Lyons, and Mr. Landa.
Conflicts in the affidavits
are resolved in favor of Mr. Landa.
The relevant facts are as follows. DPK is a limited liability
company organized under the laws of Virginia with its principal
place of business in Richmond, Virginia.
ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 5.
sole business is that it owns and operates a mobile-home park in
Id. ¶ 8.
Mr. Pasqualino, who lives with his wife, Ms.
Lyons, in Attleboro, Massachusetts, owns two-thirds interest in
Id. ¶¶ 3-4, 6.
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Mr. Pasqualino and Mr. Landa first met at an April 2018
Manufactured Housing Institute trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Id. ¶ 10.
Mr. Landa, an Illinois resident, ECF No. 24-1 ¶ 5,
contractual arrangement under which Mr. Landa would locate offmarket
purchase, ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 11.
properties for sale.
By October 2018, Mr. Landa began
Id. ¶ 12.
DPK hired Mr. Landa in January 2019.
ECF No. 24-1 ¶ 4.
ECF No. 1 ¶ 7; see also
Mr. Landa performed a variety of jobs for DPK,
including locating mobile-home communities around the country in
management duties with respect to the Richmond mobile-home park.
ECF No. 24-1 ¶¶ 2-3.
At some point, Mr. Landa began travelling to
Virginia and staying at a rented condominium for one or two weeks
at a time so he could better care for the Virginia property.
Mr. Landa did not move to Virginia, however, and performed
most of his duties from his home in Chicago.
Id. ¶ 5, 7.
The parties negotiated Mr. Landa’s pay over several months,
and eventually settled on a rate of $70,000 per year.
ECF No. 1
Mr. Landa received his first paycheck in October 2019, but
he did not receive any back pay.
Id. ¶ 12.
In January 2020,
Defendants ceased paying Mr. Landa and subsequently let him know
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they would not be compensating him further.
Id. ¶¶ 13-14.
Landa now seeks back pay for his work from January through October
2019, as well as for a period in 2020 after Defendants ceased
paying Mr. Landa.
Id. ¶ 15.
“In a federal question case such as this one, a federal court
has personal jurisdiction over the defendant if either federal law
or the law of the state in which the court sits authorizes service
of process to that defendant.”
Mobile Anesthesiologists Chi., LLC
v. Anesthesia Assocs. of Hous. Metroplex, P.A., 623 F.3d 440, 443
(7th Cir. 2010).
The federal statute at issue here--the FLSA--
does not allow for nationwide service.
Nicks v. Koch Meat Co.,
16-cv-6446, 2016 WL 6277489, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 27, 2016) (St.
Eve, J.) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)).
Accordingly, I must turn to
the Illinois long-arm statute, which permits the exercise of
personal jurisdiction if it would be allowed under either the
United States Constitution or the Illinois Constitution.
Comp. Stat. 5/2-209(c).
“[T]here is no operative difference
Anesthesiologists, 623 F.3d at 443.
Thus, I proceed to the
violate federal due process.
“The Due Process Clause authorizes personal jurisdiction over
out-of-state defendants when the defendant has ‘certain minimum
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contacts with [the state] such that the maintenance of the suit
does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial
Kipp v. Ski Enter. Corp. of Wis., Inc., 783 F.3d 695,
697 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S.
310, 316 (1945)).
There are two types of personal jurisdiction--
general and specific.
Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist.
Ct., 141 S. Ct. 1017, 1024 (2021).
General jurisdiction “extends
to ‘any and all claims’ brought against a defendant,” but may be
exercised “only when a defendant is ‘essentially at home’ in the
Id. (citing Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v.
Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011)).
Here, Mr. Landa does not counter Defendants’ arguments that
this court lacks general jurisdiction.
24 at 2-4.
ECF No. 18 at 5-7; ECF No.
Accordingly, Mr. Landa “has not carried [his] burden
to establish general jurisdiction over Defendants.”
Properties, LLC v. KA Designworks Inc., No. 17 C 5608, 2018 WL
4339378, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 11, 2018).
Moreover, Mr. Landa
does not contest that “DPK has never done business in Illinois,”
Illinois or “sold or solicited for purchase or sale any product or
service in Illinois.”
ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 9.
As a result, it is
difficult to see how Defendants might be “essentially at home” in
Illinois for purposes of general jurisdiction.
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The parties do dispute, however, whether or not Defendants’
intimately connected with a State, but only as to a narrower class
Ford Motor Co., 141 S. Ct. at 1024.
needed for this kind of jurisdiction” require the defendant to
“take ‘some act by which [it] purposefully avails itself of the
privilege of conducting activities within the forum state.’”
(citing Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958)).
[contacts] must show that the defendant deliberately ‘reached out
beyond’ its home--by, for example, ‘exploit[ing] a market’ in the
Id. at 1025 (citing Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277, 285
But “because the defendant is not ‘at home,’” the forum
State may exercise jurisdiction only when the claims at issue
“arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts.”
Here, Mr. Landa has met his prima facie burden to show
purposes of specific jurisdiction. This case is similar to Citadel
Group Ltd. v. Washington Regional Medical Center, where an Arkansas
construction of a medical office building in Arkansas.
757, 758-60 (7th Cir. 2008). The Seventh Circuit held the Arkansas
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company’s contacts with Illinois were sufficient to establish
specific personal jurisdiction.
Id. at 764.
It reasoned that
although “formation of the contract alone [wa]s not sufficient .
. . , the parties had continuing obligations and repeated contacts”
during the Illinois company’s engagement.
Id. at 763.
the end result would have been construction of a building in
“encompassed only project development, which consisted entirely of
Id. at 764.
Accordingly, the Arkansas company “should
have reasonably anticipated being haled into court in Illinois.”
Id.; see also Retreat, 2018 WL 4339378, at *6 (finding sufficient
contacts for specific personal jurisdiction in Illinois where
contemplated significant administrative work from Illinois”).
plaintiff to perform administrative work in Illinois involving
property in another state.
Per Mr. Landa’s affidavit, although he
had certain duties with respect to the Virginia mobile-home park,
“most” of his work for Defendants was performed in Illinois.
No. 24-1 ¶ 7.
In other words, Defendants purposely availed
themselves of Mr. Landa’s services in Illinois.
And because the
instant action for unpaid wages “arises out of or relates to” Mr.
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Landa’s employment arrangement with Defendants, see Retreat, 2018
establish specific personal jurisdiction.
Illinois was without their knowledge, and contrary to instructions
that Mr. Landa should perform his services from Virginia.
No. 25 at 2; ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 14.
But this is difficult to square
with the submitted testimony. Mr. Landa asserts--and I must credit
that assertion at this stage--that he was hired in January 2019
and worked for the duration of that year.
see also ECF No. 24-1 ¶ 4.
ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 7, 13-15;
Mr. Pasqualino and Ms. Lyons both
testified that they travelled to Illinois in 2019 for Ms. Lyons’s
high school reunion, and that they met socially with Mr. Landa and
his wife in Illinois during that visit.
ECF No. 18-2 ¶¶ 9-10.
ECF No. 18-1 ¶¶ 16-17;
Defendants must have known, in other words,
that Mr. Landa could be found in Illinois during the period in
which he was working, and must, therefore, have at least acquiesced
to his working outside of Virginia.
I also conclude that it would comport with fair play and
substantial justice for Defendants to be subject to personal
jurisdiction in Illinois.
“The state has a strong interest in
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[Defendants] to answer for any obligations [they] incurred in
Citadel, 536 F.3d at 764.
Although I hold Mr. Landa has met his burden to establish a
prima facie case of specific personal jurisdiction, the inquiry
does not end there. “If material facts about personal jurisdiction
are in dispute, the court ‘must hold an evidentiary hearing to
Philos Techs., Inc. v. Philos & D, Inc., 802 F.3d
905, 912 (7th Cir. 2015) (emphasis added) (citing Hyatt Int’l Corp.
v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002)).
“The timing of that
hearing is left to the discretion of the district court”--I may
order a pre-trial hearing or defer the hearing until trial.
MacNeil Auto. Prods., Ltd. v. Cannon Auto. Ltd., No. 08 C 0139,
2012 WL 2396121, at *3 (N.D. Ill. June 22, 2012) (citing Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(2)).
Here, there are several material facts in dispute pertaining
to personal jurisdiction.
The parties disagree, for example, on
how long Mr. Landa was employed, the nature of his work, and
whether work was performed (or authorized to be performed) in
Accordingly, I must order a hearing.
Although I could
defer the matter to trial, particularly given that many of the
factual issues here will also be relevant to the merits, “normally
the better practice is to decide dispositive threshold issues at
the outset and spare the parties the burden of a trial.”
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Nova Biomedical Corp., 38 F.3d 909, 915 (7th Cir. 1994).
set a status hearing to discuss the timing and logistics of the
For the time being, the motion to dismiss is denied
For the foregoing reasons, the motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction  is denied without prejudice.
Elaine E. Bucklo
United States District Judge
Dated: January 10, 2022
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