Trucker Killed in Illinois Accident is Denied Illinois Courts

James Langholf was a truck driver for Howe Freightways Inc. On Sept. 13, 2011, he pulled his truck onto the shoulder of Interstate 80 in Iowa after his tractor-trailer broke down.

Jesse Inman worked for Hanifen Co. Inc. headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, as a heavy-duty tow truck driver. He responded to Langholf’s call, parking his freight line wrecker directly in front of Langholf’s tractor-trailer.

Another Hanifen employee, Daniel Walsh, also responded to the call and parked his tow truck just behind Langholf’s. At that point, Herbert Terrell, a trucker for Hiner Equipment, LLC sideswiped Walsh’s tow truck and then crashed into Langholf’s tractor-trailer.

Inman was caught between Langholf’s tractor-trailer and his tow truck. He was crushed to death.

On April 19, 2012, Lisa Inman, individually and as executor for Jesse Inman’s estate, filed a lawsuit alleging ten counts of negligence against seven separate defendants, which included Howe Freightways. Howe Freightways filed a third-party complaint for contribution naming Hanifen Co. as a third-party defendant.

Hanifen immediately objected on personal jurisdiction grounds and filed a limited appearance. Some discovery was done on the issue of jurisdiction until on Jan. 9, 2015, the trial judge found that it had personal jurisdiction over Hanifen under both state ordinance and by “minimum contact” requirement of due process. Hanifen appealed to the First District Illinois Appellate Court.

Hanifen argued that the trial judge’s application of Illinois’ long-arm statute was in error. Hanifen had made 18 trips to Illinois for towing between September 2011 and August 2013.

No trips were made to Illinois for recovery of vehicles that were damaged. Hanifen made a total of $36,146.37 from activities in Illinois in that time period. However, Hanifen argued it was an Iowa corporation doing business primarily in Iowa.

Hanifen also maintained that it had “48-state authority,” which it had purchased through the Iowa Department of Transportation and all Hanifen’s advertising was “limited to a Des Moines radio station, brochures and occasional ads for used cars in the Des Moines Register newspaper.”

Howe Freightways argued that Hanifen’s contacts with Illinois were regular and conducted with continuity, that Hanifen earned significant amounts of money from Illinois customers, that Hanifen contracted with Illinois customers to provide towing and recovery services and that the “48-state authority” remitted some of the fee to Illinois due to the use of Illinois roads.

The appeals panel found that Hanifen could be considered only under the long-arm statute to be “doing business within [Illinois]” and the court emphasized that “the ‘doing business’ standard is ‘very high’ and requires the non-resident corporation’s business activity in Illinois be carried, not casually or occasionally, but with a fair measure of permanence and continuity.”

The appellate court also found that less than 1% of all miles traveled by Hanifen vehicles on a yearly basis were in Illinois or on Illinois roads. There is no Hanifen office and no employees in Illinois. Hanifen didn’t employ any residents or citizens of Illinois in its company.

It was also pointed out that the trips to Illinois began and ended in Des Moines. Yearly entering and functioning with Illinois 18 times while providing enumerable services elsewhere did not, in the eyes of the appellate court, constitute “doing business” in Illinois.

In applying the federal due process requirements for personal jurisdiction, the Illinois Appellate Court held that Hanifen did not meet those requirements. Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the trial judge’s finding that Illinois had personal jurisdiction over Hanifen and remanded the case for further proceedings which means the case will most likely be moved to an Iowa court.

Lisa Inman v. Howe Freightways Inc. and Howe Freightways Inc. v. Hanifen Co. Inc., 2015 IL App (1st) 1150224-U.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling truck accident cases, work injury cases, construction site accidents and car accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Maywood, Melrose Park, Hillside, Elmhurst, Berkeley, Round Lake, Skokie, St. Charles, Highland Park, Geneva, Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, Cicero, Bolingbrook, Evanston, Chicago (Elmwood Park, Marquette Park, Englewood, Stockyards, Canaryville), Cicero and Berwyn, Ill.

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