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Blake v. Colfax Corporation

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division

June 21, 2013

MENDY BLAKE and CHARLES BLAKE, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
COLFAX CORPORATION, a Corporation, and EDWARD WARREN, Defendants-Appellants.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 11 L 8090 Honorable John Kirby, Judge Presiding.

COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS The Hunt Law Group, LLC, OF COUNSEL: Brian J. Hunt and Lindsay A. Watson

COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES Corboy & Demetrio, OF COUNSEL: Daniel S. Kirschner

PRESIDING JUSTICE LAMPKIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hall and Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

LAMPKIN PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 In this negligence action that arose from a vehicle collision, defendants moved to transfer the suit, which was filed in Cook County, to either Will or Du Page County under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The circuit court denied defendants' motion, and this court granted defendants' petition for interlocutory appeal. On appeal, defendants contend that the total circumstances of this case strongly favored a transfer to Will County. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Plaintiff Mendy Blake was driving her vehicle on February 9, 2010, and was injured when a van owned by defendant Colfax Corporation and driven by its employee, defendant Edward Warren, crossed the center line and crashed into plaintiff's oncoming car. According to the traffic crash report, the collision occurred in Will County on Genoa Road around the intersection of Wheeler Road in Plainfield, Illinois. This location is near the border between Will and Kendall Counties. According to defendants' discovery responses, Warren was driving from his home in Kendall County to a job located in Du Page County when the collision occurred. Defendants claimed that Warren normally kept the van at his home.

¶ 4 Mrs. Blake and her husband, plaintiff Charles Blake, resided in Plainfield, Will County. Mr. Blake, however, submitted an affidavit stating that he worked at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza in Chicago, and a transfer from Cook County to either Will or Du Page County would cause substantial inconvenience, impede his ability to perform work before and after each trial day, and greatly impede his ability to meet with his attorneys and prepare in the days leading up to trial.

¶ 5 The office and headquarters of Colfax Corporation, which was engaged in the business of lead abatement and asbestos removal, were located at 2441 North Leavitt Street, Chicago, Cook County. Although defendant Warren resided in Plainfield, Kendall County, he stated that the Leavitt Street, Cook County address was his work address.

¶ 6 The only nonparty eyewitness to the accident, Branden Adkins, resided in Plainfield, Kendall County. Adkins, however, submitted an affidavit stating that he was willing and able to testify in Cook County.

¶ 7 The Will County sheriff's department responded to the scene of the accident. Emergency medical services were provided by the Plainfield fire department, which was located in Will County. Emergency personnel transferred Mrs. Blake from the accident site to Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Will County. She subsequently underwent surgery to repair her right femur fracture at that medical center, and the surgery was performed by a doctor whose office was located in Will County. Mrs. Blake's postoccurrence medical treatment was provided predominantly in Will and Du Page Counties. Defendants' van, which had caught on fire at the scene of the collision, was stored in Cook County and was subject to an order of protection by the circuit court of Cook County.

¶ 8 Plaintiffs filed suit in Cook County against defendants, alleging a negligence claim based on Warren's operation of the van and a loss of consortium claim on behalf of Mr. Blake. Defendants moved the court to transfer this matter from Cook County to either Will or Du Page County pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Thereafter, plaintiffs amended their complaint to add allegations of negligence against defendants based on their failure to equip and maintain the van with safe and proper tires and adequate brakes.

¶ 9 After hearing argument on the motion, the trial court denied defendants' forum nonconveniens motion. The trial court reviewed the private and public interest factors and found that defendants had failed to meet their burden to show that a transfer of the trial to either Will or Du Page County would be more convenient and better serve the ends of justice. Concerning the private interest factors, the trial court found that the convenience of the parties favored maintaining the action in Cook County because plaintiffs had chosen that forum, defendant Colfax Corporation's principal place of business was on the near northwest side of Chicago, and Mr. Blake worked at the Merchandise Mart and had submitted an affidavit stating that the Daley Center in Cook County was substantially more convenient for him. The court also found that practical ...


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