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Judges rule Wisconsin court had personal jurisdiction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has determined a Johnson Superior judge should not have set aside a Wisconsin court’s default judgment involving the sale and delivery of a boat between parties in the two states.

In Harry Kaufmann Motorcars, Inc. v. Schumaker Performance, Inc., No. 41A05-1108-MI-411, the COA reversed a decision to not give full faith and credit to a default judgment finding by a Wisconsin court.

The case involves the purchase of a boat following the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show. Wisconsin-based company HKM agreed to buy the boat from Schumaker Performance and made a $9,000 down payment. A Schumaker representative delivered the boat in April 2007 to Wisconsin and accepted the final payment. After the initial delivery, a Schumaker representative picked the boat up and conducted repairs in Indiana before later returning the boat to HKM in Wisconsin.

 In July 2009, HKM filed a suit in Dane County, Wis., against Schumaker and co-defendant Eliminator Custom Boats alleging breach of contract and warranty claims relating to the boat sale. Schumaker was served with process in Indiana, but declined to appear and later informed the court of its intent. The Wisconsin court entered default judgment against Schumaker and Eliminator Custom Boats in June 2010 for $436,651.71. HKM later filed its complaint to domesticate foreign judgment in the Johnson County trial court, and in May 2011 the Indiana judge granted Schumaker’s motion to dismiss.

Finding that this case involves local services, goods or contracts received by a company in Wisconsin, the Indiana appellate court determined that Wisconsin’s long-arm statute applies to this case. The Indiana panel relied on Capitol Fixture and Woodworking Grp. v. Woodma Distribs., Inc., 432 N.W.2d 647, 649 (Wis. Ct. App. 1988) to determine that two inquiries had been satisfied to give the Wisconsin court personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. Those two factors were the initial contact between HKM and Schumaker, resulting in the purchase, and the boat delivery from Indiana to Wisconsin that included the final payment being accepted in that state.

“As an Indiana seller, Schumaker cannot be surprised that it could possibly expose itself to litigation relating to the sale of its product in a buyer’s state,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in the opinion. “In addition, Schumaker arranged for its counsel to communicate with the Wisconsin court, and through its counsel, could likely have arranged for effective local counsel without unreasonably inconveniencing itself. Accordingly, we conclude that the balancing of inconveniences in this instance falls in favor of HKM and conferring personal jurisdiction over Schumaker in the Wisconsin courts.”

The case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this appellate opinion.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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