Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Torres v. Walsh

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 16, 1983.

ELIAS TORRES ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,

v.

ALFRED T. WALSH, JUDGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



Original petition for writs of mandamus and prohibition.

JUSTICE CLARK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This action was brought in the circuit court of Cook County by Elias and Celia Torres seeking damages which resulted from an automobile collision on November 21, 1981, and from alleged medical malpractice following that accident which rendered Elias Torres a quadriplegic.

Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that on November 21, 1981, at 5:20 p.m. defendant Dale Palmer was operating his automobile negligently and collided with plaintiffs' automobile. It is alleged that the collision caused serious injury to both plaintiffs. This collision occurred on Interstate Highway 55 at or near the overpass on Toronto Road in Woodside Township of Sangamon County.

The plaintiffs' complaint alleges that plaintiff Elias Torres was admitted to Springfield Community Hospital for treatment of his injuries resulting from the automobile collision and that the medical treatment rendered to plaintiff at the hospital was allegedly performed in a negligent manner. Springfield Community Hospital is located in Sangamon County. Defendant Memorial Medical Center is also located in Sangamon County.

The following physicians are named as defendants in this action: Walter Wheelhouse, M.D., Lyle Wacaser, M.D., Richard B. McCormick, M.D., Rosalino T. Figueras, M.D., Robert Vautrain, M.D., Choon Bong Choi, M.D., Steven J. Jackman, M.D., Thomas P. Lake, M.D., Charles H. Williams, M.D., and David J. Porter, M.D. All of them practice in Sangamon County.

The following nurses are named in the complaint as defendants: R. Bartmann, C.R.N.A., Susan Sclucu, R.N., M. Lucas, R.N., P. Culler, R.N., D. Austif, R.N., Karen Denny, R.N., John Dronsfield, R.N., and M. Schneider, R.N. All of them practice in Sangamon County.

Humana of Illinois, Inc., d/b/a Springfield Community Hospital, and Humana Management Systems, Inc., are also named as defendants in the action. Humana of Illinois, Inc., owns and operates Springfield Community Hospital. Humana Management Systems, Inc., is a data-processing service company and is not involved in patient care. It contracts with Springfield Community Hospital to provide accounting and data-processing services. The offices of C.T. Corporation System, a registered agent of defendants Humana of Illinois, Inc., and Humana Management Systems, Inc., are located in Cook County.

Elias and Celia Torres live in the vicinity of San Antonio, Texas. Defendant Dale Palmer lives in Auburn, Illinois, which is in Sangamon County.

Defendants requested that the trial court transfer the case to Sangamon County. The trial court found venue to be proper in Cook County but ordered a transfer to Sangamon County. The order stated:

"1. The Court finds that venue is proper in Cook County, Illinois under Sections 2-101 and 2-102 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

2. The Court further finds that all defendants have agreed to waive service if this action is refiled in Sangamon County, Illinois.

3. That it is hereby ordered that plaintiffs' cause of action be and the same hereby is, transferred to Sangamon County, Illinois."

The plaintiffs then petitioned this court directly seeking writs of mandamus and prohibition or a supervisory order to compel the trial court to vacate its order and retain venue in Cook County. (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, secs. 4(a), 16; 87 Ill.2d R. 381.) The issue before us is whether the trial court has the authority under the doctrine of forum non conveniens to transfer the lawsuit to another county when venue in Cook County is proper but inconvenient to the defendants and other interested parties.

Count I of the plaintiffs' complaint alleged that Elias Torres became a quadriplegic as the result of medical malpractice on an undisplaced fracture of his cervical spine after his admission to Springfield Community Hospital on November 21, 1981, following an automobile collision. Count II alleged that he underwent surgery on November 26, 1981, to repair a fractured patella, and that, applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, he became a quadriplegic due to injuries to his cervical spine during that surgery, injuries that the plaintiff claims were the fault of someone at Springfield Community Hospital. Count III alleged a cause of action for Elias Torres against the driver of the automobile which collided with the plaintiffs' automobile on November 21, 1981. In count IV Celia Torres alleged a cause of action against all defendants for loss of her husband's consortium. Count V alleged a cause of action for Celia Torres against the driver of the automobile for her own personal injuries.

Because an action may be brought in the county of the residence of any defendant when commenced in good faith (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 2-101), and the residence of a corporation for purposes of venue is any county "in which it has its registered office or other office or is doing business" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 2-102), venue in the instant case is proper in Cook County.

The defendants assert that a writ of mandamus is not an appropriate vehicle for relief in the instant case. It is clear that if the trial court did not have the authority to transfer the case then a writ of mandamus would be an appropriate vehicle here but if the trial court did possess the authority then a writ of mandamus would be inappropriate since it will not lie "to direct the manner in which a judge is to exercise his discretion." Chicago & North Western Transportation Co. v. Matoesian (1981), 85 Ill.2d 404, 406, citing People ex rel. Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Co. v. Donovan (1964), 30 Ill.2d 178, 180.

We must determine whether the trial court has the authority to transfer the lawsuit when venue in Cook County is proper.

The doctrine of forum non conveniens has been recognized and employed by courts> in this State for many years in cases involving other States. This court described the doctrine in Adkins v. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R.R. Co. (1973), 54 Ill.2d 511:

"Forum non conveniens is a doctrine that is founded in considerations of fundamental fairness and sensible and effective judicial administration. In the application of these basic considerations a court may decline jurisdiction of a case `even though it may have proper jurisdiction over all parties and the subject matter involved' (Whitney v. Madden (1948), 400 Ill. 185, 189, cert denied, 335 U.S. 828, 93 L.Ed. 382, 69 S.Ct. 55), whenever it appears that there is another forum that can better `serve the convenience of the parties and the ends of justice.' (Lonergan v. Crucible Steel Co. of America (1967), 37 Ill.2d 599, 606.) Factors to be considered in disposing of a motion to dismiss forum non conveniens include the relative capacities of the two courts> to provide a fair trial, the relative inconvenience to witnesses and parties, and the burden placed upon the taxpayers and residents of the jurisdiction to which the cause of action is transported." 54 Ill.2d 511, 514.

In Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert (1947), 330 U.S. 501, 91 L.Ed. 1055, 67 S.Ct. 839, the United States Supreme Court looked at whether a United States District Court had the inherent authority to dismiss a suit pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The court said:

"The principle of forum non conveniens is simply that a court may resist imposition upon its jurisdiction even when jurisdiction is authorized by the letter of a general venue statute. * * *

Wisely, it has not been attempted to catalogue the circumstances which will justify or require either grant or denial of remedy. The doctrine leaves much to the discretion of the court to which plaintiff resorts, and experience has not shown a judicial tendency to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.