Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Denial of Motion to Quash Service on Foreign Defendant in Defective Bicycle Product Liability Action

Dangerous and defective products lead to some of the most serious injuries, often leaving a victim with life-long impacts and disabilities. In our increasingly globalized world, many of the products that we use on a daily basis come from foreign companies and manufacturers. As the following case demonstrates, bringing a product liability or negligence claim against a foreign defendant can be tricky, which is why it is critical to consult with a seasoned Chicago product liability attorney if you believe that you are owed compensation for an injury.

A plaintiff alleged that she suffered injuries as a result of using one of the defendant’s bicycles during a 468-mile ride event. According to her complaint, the front fork of the bicycle broke while the plaintiff was riding it, causing her to fall during the race in Iowa. The plaintiff alleged that the bike was manufactured by a Taiwanese company and sold throughout the United States by a Virginia-based company. The plaintiff purchased the bicycle from an authorized dealer in Illinois. Prior to the race, the plaintiff had taken the bicycle to a shop in Illinois.

The manufacturer was notified of service through the Illinois Secretary of State. The manufacturer responded to the plaintiff’s complaint, which included counts of negligence, strict liability, and breach of express warranty, by filing a motion to quash service. The defendant claimed that it was not required to register with the Illinois Secretary of State, rendering service on the Secretary ineffective. Also, the entity claimed that it had not transacted business in the state of Illinois, which it contended also invalidated the plaintiff’s attempt to effect service of process through the Illinois Secretary of State.

The plaintiff countered this argument by relying on the Illinois long-arm statute, alleging that the defendant was “doing business within” Illinois through its subsidiary. A long-arm statute generally allows a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a person or company that resides outside the state, based on certain acts or conduct that provide a sufficient nexus between the defendant and the jurisdiction. To support this assertion, the plaintiff included pictures, printouts, and maps from the defendant’s website, indicating that bicycle dealers were located, or had conducted business in, Illinois. The defendant amended its discovery responses to claim that it was unaware of which dealers were authorized and whether they had conducted business in Illinois.

The lower court denied the defendant’s motion to quash service, finding that the manufacturer had sufficient minimum contacts with the State of Illinois to provide a basis for exercising jurisdiction under its long-arm statute. The defendant appealed.

On review, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision denying the defendant’s motion to quash service, finding that the defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with the state, particularly based on the regular and anticipated flow of its products that were distributed in Illinois and the fact that the company was aware that its products were distributed in Illinois. The court also concluded that requiring the defendant to litigate in the United States was reasonable and that the claims against the defendant arose directly out of its contact with Illinois, i.e., the plaintiff’s injuries that resulted from the allegedly defective nature of the bicycle.

If you have been injured by a product and believe that it was unreasonably dangerous or defective, you may be entitled to compensation. The seasoned bicycle accident attorneys at Therman Law Offices have prepared many legal claims on behalf of accident victims and their families throughout Chicago and the state. We can guide you through the entire process and ensure that you receive the personalized and tenacious legal counsel that you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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