Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, August 19, 2019

Federal court dismisses family business dispute for lack of jurisdiction

By Dee Thompson | Jul 10, 2017

EAST ST. LOUIS — A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Missouri man against the law firm that had represented his daughters. 

On June 14, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois ruled that plaintiffs Scott Jenkins and Rhonda Stephanie Alexandropoulos lacked personal jurisdiction in Illinois.

The case stems from a legal dispute in Nevada in which Jenkins claimed that his daughters, Rebecca Frausto and Christina Jenkins, were attempting to gain control of a family-owned company in Nevada.

The plaintiffs initially filed suit against Bruce Burkey, Taylor Law Firm PC, Joice Bass, Jennifer Hostetler and Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which also had dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. All of the claims brought were related to the legal representation of Jenkins’ daughters.

The suit alleged that that defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act, and that there was fraudulent misrepresentation. The plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants had committed conspiracy, blackmail, extortion, coercion, mail fraud, the unauthorized practice of law, theft and sent threatening communications by mail. Additional accusations included defamation, breach of contract, negligent supervision, infliction of emotional distress and intentional interference with a prospective economic advantage.

After the Missouri federal court’s rejection, the plaintiffs brought the suit in Illinois. The defendants argued that the Illinois action should also be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Illinois court agreed.

“LRRC [the law firm of Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP] has done nothing but represent two Illinois citizens in a Nevada dispute over the ownership and control of a Nevada company that happened to own two pieces of property in Illinois that could have been affected by the litigation,” the court said in its decision. “This does not demonstrate purposeful availment of the privilege of conducting activities in Illinois and the benefits and protections of Illinois’ laws such that LRRC should reasonably anticipate being haled into court here.” 

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois