Wisconsin Doesn't Have Jurisdiction Over Illinois Car Dealer After Internet Sale

Wisconsin case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: personal jurisdiction.

Eric D. Carlson v. Fidelity Motor Group, LLC. WI personal jurisdiction

In 2013, Eric Carlson, a resident of Wisconsin, found a 2006 BMW on cars.com and called the seller, Fidelity Motor Group, LLC, a dealership in Illinois. The next day, he and his wife drove to Illinois and purchased the vehicle, after the dealership promised to change the oil.

Five months later, the car developed engine problems, and Carlson believed that the oil hadn't been changed as promised. Carlson sued Fidelity in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court. Circuit Judge Paul V. Malloy dismissed the case, holding that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state dealer. Dissatisfied, Carlson appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

The appeals court first noted that it conducts a de novo review to determine whether there is jurisdiction under the Constitution and the long-arm statute, Wis. Stat. 801.05.

The appeals court held that this was a one-time transaction and not a regular course of dealing with Wisconsin residents. It also noted that advertising on an internet site, by itself, was not enough to invoke jurisdiction. For these reasons, it affirmed the lower court's ruling.

No. 2014AP695 (Wis. Ct. App. Jan. 14, 2015).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


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Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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