Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Brian
Duff, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE PERLIN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This court granted defendant Moulis Corporation's (the corporation) petition for leave to appeal (87 Ill.2d R. 306) from an order of the trial court denying the corporation's motion to transfer venue from Cook County to McHenry County.
The record reveals the following relevant facts. The underlying action is for personal injuries allegedly resulting from a boating accident which occurred on Lake Pistakee. The lake is partially in Lake County and partially in McHenry County; no part of the lake is in Cook County. The plaintiffs and individual defendants each reside in McHenry County. The corporation has its principal place of business in Lake County; it maintains no address or phone in Cook County. The defendants Haag have filed a prior action against defendants Moulis Corporation and Paul Walczunski, arising from the same incident, in McHenry County.
The corporation filed a motion to transfer the cause to McHenry County, contending that since no defendant resided in Cook County and no part of the transaction from which the cause of action arose occurred in Cook County, venue would not lie in Cook County. *fn1
Plaintiffs responded that, based on the deposition of corporate officer John Moulis, the corporation was "doing business" in Cook County by virtue of its participation at boat shows held in Cook County and, therefore, venue in Cook County was proper.
The trial court, noting the corporation's participation at the Cook County boat shows, and stating that "the plaintiff has the right to choose the forum whenever it's reasonably possible and available" denied the corporation's motion. We granted leave to appeal.
The sole issue presented is whether venue properly lies in Cook County. More specifically, the issue is whether it can be said that the corporation is "doing business" in Cook County for purposes of venue.
Section 2-101 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 2-101) pertains to venue generally and provides, in part:
"Except as otherwise provided in this Act, every action must be commenced (a) in the county of residence of any defendant who is joined in good faith * * * or, (b) in the county in which the transaction or some part thereof occurred out of which the cause of action arose."
Section 2-102(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 2-102(a)) defines the residence of corporations for purposes of venue:
"Any private corporation * * * is a resident of any county in which it has its registered office or other office or is doing business."
Plaintiffs rely on the deposition of corporate officer John Moulis to demonstrate that Moulis Corporation is "doing business" in Cook County and that venue there is consequently appropriate. At his deposition, Moulis testified that Moulis Corporation, d/b/a "Fox Lake Harbor," operates a "complete marina" in Lake County. Its operation there includes "storage, sales, service, accessories and repairs" of boats. It has "about 14 full-time employees, including two full-time salesmen." The corporation has participated in the annual Arlington Park and McCormick Place boat shows in Cook County on an unspecified and irregular basis over the past ten years; "some years we go; some years we don't go."
Boat manufacturers rent space at the boat shows, and boat dealers such as Moulis Corporation pay a fee to them in order to use the space; the fee depends upon the size of the space rented. The manufacturers display boat models at the shows. These models are not sold; an interested customer chooses a model, places an order and leaves a deposit with Moulis. The deposits range from $20 to $1,000. The contract forms used by Moulis provide that they are not "binding on seller or broker unless signed by an officer or sales manager of seller or broker."
Most of the time the contracts are returned to the marina at Fox Lake for approval, although Mr. Moulis testified that he has on occasion approved sales contracts at the boat shows "when all circumstances and items are known." If a buyer wishes to "trade in" a boat, "most of the time we have him bring the boat" to the marina for examination, ...