The First District Appellate Court recently reversed a court’s ruling that plaintiff could try their case in Cook County. The lower court had previously denied defendants’ joint motion to transfer the case to Boone County based on forum non conveniens. In its ruling, the appellate panel found that the circuit court abused its discretion when it denied defendants’ joint motion.
Background: Plaintiff filed a lawsuit based on negligence, wrongful death and violations of the Nursing Home Care Act in Cook County against a nursing home and several other defendants. Plaintiff’s action was based on medical care and treatment her father, the decedent, received at a long-term care facility located in Boone County, Illinois. Despite strong public and private interest reasons to transfer the case to Boone County under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 187 and the doctrine of forum non conveniens, the circuit court denied defendants’ joint motion to transfer the case.
Plaintiff’s complaint included several allegations against the various defendants as to her father’s care and how these factors allegedly contributed to his death. It also listed where the defendants resided. Only one of the defendants, the registered agent and management company for the nursing home, is located in Cook County. All other defendants reside in Boone or Winnebago County.
In defendants’ joint motion to transfer, it listed the mileage to travel for most of the witnesses as less than 15 miles to Boone County courthouse and that the defendant nursing home was located less than two miles from the Boone County courthouse, compared to 70 miles in distance to Cook County. Nonetheless, the circuit court denied defendants’ joint motion stating that Cook County had an interest in the case because it was where the management company for the nursing home was located.
At that point, defendants filed a petition for leave to appeal, which was granted.
On Appeal: Defendants argued that Boone County is the most appropriate forum for this case. It is where most of the witnesses and plaintiff reside, where the alleged negligence occurred and where the defendant nursing home is located. They also argued that the circuit court improperly emphasized the defendant management company’s presence in Cook County – since its activities in Cook County are not related to the alleged negligence arising out of the care and treatment received at the nursing home in Boone County. Defendants contended that the private and public interest factors strongly weigh in favor of transfer to Boone County.
Outcome: Viewing the private and public interest factors as a whole and considering the totality of the circumstances, the appellate court found that the circuit court abused its discretion when it denied defendants’ joint motion to transfer based on Rule 187 and forum non conveniens. It reversed the lower court’s order denying defendants’ joint motion to transfer and remanded to the circuit court of Cook County with directions to transfer the case to Boone County.
This is an ongoing case involving a Johnson & Bell client, as well as other defendants who are represented by other law firms. Johnson & Bell’s Lynn M. Reid and Ava L. Caffarini are handling this case for our client. David M. Macksey handled the appeal. If you have any questions about this development, please contact Lynn, Ava or David.