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05/11/89 Darrell Mansfield, v. Curtis-Jansen

May 11, 1989

DARRELL MANSFIELD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

CURTIS-JANSEN, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

538 N.E.2d 1282, 183 Ill. App. 3d 154, 131 Ill. Dec. 726 1989.IL.715

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. A.A. Matoesian, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE WELCH delivered the opinion of the court. LEWIS, J., concurs. JUSTICE HOWERTON, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WELCH

On January 26, 1987, plaintiff, Darrell Mansfield, filed in the circuit court of Madison County a four-count complaint sounding in negligence and strict liability for damages to his cattle-raising operation caused by a cattle feed storage silo manufactured by defendant A.O. Smith Harvestore Products, Inc., and sold and serviced by defendant Curtis-Jansen, Inc. Both defendants filed motions to transfer venue to Greene County on forum non conveniens grounds. These motions were denied by the circuit court of Madison County on April 10, 1987. Thereafter, defendant A.O. Smith filed a motion to vacate the order of April 10, and to schedule a hearing on defendants' motions to transfer venue so as to allow the parties to conduct discovery on the issues of fact raised by the motions. This motion was granted on May 8, 1987, and the parties were granted time in which to conduct discovery on the issues of fact raised by the motions to transfer venue.

The record following discovery reveals the following facts. Plaintiff is a resident of Greene County, and the cattle feed storage silo was constructed, serviced, operated, malfunctioned and remains in Greene County. The damages to plaintiff's cattle-raising operation were incurred in Greene County.

Defendant A.O. Smith is a foreign corporation with offices in Barrington and De Kalb, Illinois. A.O. Smith does business in Madison County, but has no office there. A.O. Smith keeps no records in Madison County.

Defendant Curtis-Jansen is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Effingham County. It also has an office in Clinton County. It does business in Madison County, but has no office there. Any records pertaining to the silo sold to plaintiff would be located in Curtis-Jansen's Effingham County office or its Clinton County office.

The offices of defendant Curtis-Jansen's attorney are located in Madison County. Defendant A.O. Smith's counsel have their offices in St. Clair County. Plaintiff's attorneys have their offices in Madison County.

Of the 13 persons revealed in discovery as having knowledge of relevant facts, two have addresses in Effingham County, five have addresses in Clinton County, one has an address in Shelby County, and two have addresses in Madison County.

An affidavit by the statistician of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts reveals that in 1985 the time lapse between filing of a complaint in a law jury case over $15,000 and trial in Madison County was 37.8 months, in Clinton County, 18.7 months, and in Greene County, zero months. In 1984, only 11% of all law jury cases over $15,000 filed in Greene County were pending more than 12 months, while 64% of all law jury cases over $15,000 filed in Madison County during 1984 were pending more than 12 months.

Following discovery, defendants amended their motions to transfer venue on forum non conveniens grounds. Defendants' motions were denied by order of court on December 18, 1987. Defendants bring this appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 306(a)(1)(ii) (107 Ill. 2d R. 306(a)(1)(ii)). We reverse the trial court's order denying defendants' motions to transfer venue on forum non conveniens grounds.

Under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a cause may be transferred to a different forum than that in which plaintiff brought it where to do so would better serve the convenience of the parties and the ends of Justice. (Bland v. Norfolk & Western Ry. Co. (1987), 116 Ill. 2d 217, 223, 506 N.E.2d 1291, 1293.) In deciding whether to transfer a cause on forum non conveniens grounds, the court must balance the following factors: the relative ease of access to sources of proof; the availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling, and the cost of obtaining attendance of willing, witnesses; the possibility of view of premises, if view would be appropriate to the action; the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; a ...


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