West Bend company sues Illinois company over forklift
At least one other Wisconsin company has had similar issues, taken Illinois business to court

By ALEX BELD - Daily News

Dec. 17, 2017

The exterior of Federal Tool & Engineering is seen Thursday afternoon in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News

In 2015, Federal Tool & Engineering, a West Bend company, purchased a used fork lift from Illinois Lift Equipment Inc., which is now the subject of a lawsuit.

The company from West Bend alleges that Illinois Lift Equipment lied about the number of hours of use on the engine in the forklift. This was discovered when it needed repairs shortly after it arrived at their business.

Attorney Richard Hahn for Federal Tool & Engineering further noted in court documents that at least one other company has had similar issues and taken the Illinois company to court. The company has made at least 33 sales in Wisconsin since 2012.

The other court case involves Milwaukee County company Global Power Components. They purchased two fork lifts for $45,300 and it was alleged the engines had between three and four times the amount of hours on them than was advertised. The case was dismissed after a settlement was reached.

Illinois Lift Equipment has filed a motion for the Washington County case to be dropped or for the venue to be changed to Illinois, stating limited sales and representatives in the state and the use of eBay to sell the equipment.

In a court document the Illinois company states, “Illinois Lift is a small, Illinois company with no sales representatives or other employees who conduct business in Wisconsin.”

The defendant also argues that sale through eBay was the only one.

The plaintiff argued that the number of sales to various parties in Wisconsin and the decision on the similar matter in Milwaukee County were among the reasons why the case should remain in the state.

Judge Andrew Gonring quickly decided the Washington County Circuit Court wouldn’t be bound by a decision of a circuit court in Milwaukee County and that the businesses weren’t far apart.

Gonring further stated that a one-time transaction was not sufficient grounds to side with Federal Tool & Engineering, but the other sales made in the state were. He also noted the sales were all made in a similar manner and that he was concerned about this being the second case in the state involving the defendant.

The motion to dismiss was denied according to court records, but the judge sought more information related to a terms and agreements of sale page associated with the invoice for the sale of the forklift.

Gonring said he wanted the attorneys to look into how a misrepresentation claim would affect the laws surrounding such forms and how font and clarity come into play.

Both attorneys in the case will file briefs on the matter Jan. 15 and will not be able to reply to statements made in the others’ comments.

A motion from the plaintiff was, however, denied. The motion requested documents from the Illinois company, which were later received.

Hahn sought payment of the legal fees associated with filing the motion despite having received the documents from Illinois Lift Equipment.