In a unanimous decision, the Fifth District upheld a St. Clair County judge's decision overruling a motion to transfer a case to Clinton County, even though the "plaintiff's preferred venue is not where the plaintiff lives or where the accident occurred but, rather, an adjacent county where more lawsuits are generally filed." Langenhorst v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., No. 05-02-0459 (5th Dist. 12/15/04).
The Fifth District's review of the trial court decision came after the defendants filed a motion for supervisory order with the Illinois Supreme Court. As the Fifth District noted, "Our high court denied the defendants' request for leave to appeal but used its supervisory power to order our reconsideration of the matter in light of two recent supreme court decisions--Dawdy v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., 207 Ill. 2d 167, 797 N.E.2d 687 (2003), and First American Bank v. Guerine, 198 Ill. 2d 511, 764 N.E.2d 54 (2002)."
The Fifth District stated that the Supreme Court's request meant that the high court thought that both of the cited cases still represented good law. After analyzing the relevant factors in a lengthy opinion, the court upheld the decision overruling the defendant's motion to transfer: "[W]e cannot say that [the trial court] was unreasonable in denying a venue transfer to Clinton County. Other reasonable people might well adopt the view that he has taken here, that the convenience factors do not strongly favor a transfer of the case."
Much of the court's analysis focused on the "convenience" factor. In summing up this part of its analysis, the court stated, "Here, two potential witnesses live in St. Clair County, the lawyers who will try this case both have offices just minutes away from St. Clair County courtrooms, and all the doctors who treated Gerald Langenhorst live in or closer to St. Clair County. We do not think that Guerine supports a transfer to Clinton County."
Those with an interest in forum non conveniens may want to closely study the Langenhorst opinion.