NPZ, INC. d/b/a ZTRAPS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
ULTRA IMAGE POWDER COATING and ALTRA CORPORATION, d/b/a ULTRA IMAGE POWDER COATING, Defendants-Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for Crawford County, Steven J.
live-trap manufacturer appeals an order dismissing its suit
against a Minnesota powder-coating company.
B. Bottlinger of Bottlinger Law, L.L.C., Omaha, Nebraska, for
D. Moore of Baird Holm LLP, Omaha, Nebraska, for appellees.
by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
sued by an Iowa company, the Minnesota-based defendant moved
to dismiss-not wanting to be trapped in the Iowa courts. The
district court agreed with the nonresident defendant,
dismissing the lawsuit for want of personal jurisdiction. The
Iowa company now appeals.
the Minnesota company had sufficient contacts with the forum
state through its business relationship with the Iowa
manufacturer, we find the nonresident is subject to personal
jurisdiction in this case. Thus, we remand the case for
Background Facts and Proceedings.
Ziegmann is the president of N.P.Z., Inc., which does
business as ZTraps. ZTraps's principal place of business
is in Kiron, Iowa, where he manufactures and sells
live-animal traps. When Ziegmann needed to find a company to
powder coat some raccoon traps, he enlisted the aid of
Jim Thielen. Thielen ran a marketing firm in Buffalo,
November 2015, Thielen-acting as the middleman-reached out to
Altra Corporation about the possibility of powder coating
raccoon traps for Ziegmann. After initial exchanges with
Thielen,  Altra provided a cost estimate of $15, 000
for powder coating 30, 000 raccoon traps. Altra's
December 2015 price estimate was addressed to Thielen
Marketing at its Buffalo, Minnesota address.
April 2016, Thielen emailed Ben Johnson (carbon copying
Ziegmann) with the proposed terms of the deal:
Hi Ben Z[T]raps would like to manage painting of 30, 000
Ztraps as follows.
The week of 4/18 Z[T]raps delivers 6, 000 pcs to [Altra] via
truck line for powder coat
• Paint over Ztrap decal
• Paint over bar code
• *Cover tip of dog so it is not painted
• [Altra] puts traps in plastic bag, provided, and bulk
When order is complete, Z[T]raps will deliver 6, 000
additional traps and pick up the painted traps. This will
continue until all 30, 000 traps have been painted.
Target deadline to complete project is 7/31/16. Let's
discuss. Thanks Ben,
Thielen Marketing, Inc 612-[phone number]
months later, ZTraps emailed Altra the following purchase
order prominently featuring ZTraps's Iowa address:
2016, ZTraps sent 30, 000 of its traps to Altra's
Minnesota facility. The next month, Altra completed powder
coating 25, 716 of the traps. In September 2016, Altra
emailed Thielen an invoice for the powder coating. That same
day, a truck retrieved the completed traps from Altra to
return them to ZTraps. Although Altra sent the email to
Thielen, the attached invoice listed the billing recipient as
ZTraps at its Iowa address.
was dissatisfied with the powder coating on the traps,
describing the work as "not uniform; there were large
splotches of white, in varied stages of opacity, on the
traps. Other portions of the traps [were] not powder coated
at all." So Thielen visited Altra's Minnesota office
to discuss a possible resolution. After meeting with Thielen,
Altra agreed to pay for shipping the powder-coated traps from
Kiron to Altra's Minnesota facility. And Altra agreed,
upon receiving the shipment, it would sort through the traps
to identify the powder coating ZTraps found
deficient. Altra would then recoat the substandard
traps and return all traps to Iowa, again paying for shipping
followed up by email after the meeting to confirm the terms
discussed. The email also offered contact information for
Auen Trucking, the Iowa company ZTraps hired for the July
shipment, in case Auen offered a more favorable rate than
another carrier Altra might solicit. Altra requested the
information so it could compare rates. In response, Ziegmann
emailed Altra with Auen Trucking's address in Schleswig,
turns out, Altra did hire Auen Trucking to ship the traps
back to Minnesota. At Altra's direction, Auen picked up
the traps from Kiron in October 2016 and transported them to
Big Lake, Minnesota. Altra completed the recoating in January
2017. Before returning the traps to Iowa, Altra emailed
Ziegmann asking for payment of the September 2016 invoice.
The next day, Thielen visited Altra's office and dropped
off a check from ZTraps. Then Altra ...