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Bjorkstam v. MPC Products Corp.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

November 13, 2014

ULRIKA BJORKSTAM and JOSEPH DANIEL DRAY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
MPC PRODUCTS CORPORATION d/b/a Woodward MPC, a Corporation and WOODWARD, INC., a Corporation, Defendants-Appellees

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 13 L 007339. Honorable Jeffrey Lawrence, Judge Presiding.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

In an action for the injuries plaintiffs suffered as bystanders during a plane crash in Mexico City based on the claim that the crash was caused by faulty parts, including a part manufactured by defendants, the trial court properly dismissed the complaint plaintiffs refiled in Illinois after their initial Illinois complaint was dismissed for forum non conveniens based on the trial court's finding that a Texas court was a more convenient forum and the complaint plaintiffs filed in the Texas court was dismissed for want of prosecution on the ground that plaintiffs failed to exercise diligence in serving defendants with the Texas suit, since plaintiffs violated Supreme Court Rule 187(c)(2) and the Illinois trial court's order dismissing their initial suit when they failed to formally serve defendants with the Texas suit, neither defendants' obligation to accept service under Rule 187 nor the Illinois court's first dismissal order was triggered and plaintiffs were not entitled to reinstate their complaint in Illinois.

FOR ULRIKA BJORKSTAM AND JOSEPH DANIEL RAY, APPELLANTS: Floyd A. Wisner, Wisner Law Firm, P.C.

FOR MPC PRODUCTS CORPORATION AND WOODWARD, INC., APPELLEES: Michael G. McQuillen, John M. Kelly, Austin W. Bartlett, Gina M. Diomedi, Christine M. Niemczyk, Adler Murphy & McQuillen LLP.

JUSTICE EPSTEIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Howse and Taylor concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

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EPSTEIN, JUSTICE

[¶1] This appeal addresses whether plaintiffs Ulrika Bjorkstam and Joseph Daniel Dray were entitled to reinstate their complaint against defendants MPC Products Corporation (MPC) and Woodward, Inc. (Woodward), in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, after it had been dismissed for forum non conveniens. Plaintiffs filed their initial complaint in the circuit court of Cook County. The court dismissed plaintiffs' suit for forum non conveniens, finding that Harris County, Texas, was a more convenient forum. Plaintiffs then filed suit in Texas. In Texas, Woodward moved to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for want of prosecution, alleging that plaintiffs failed to exercise diligence in serving it with the lawsuit. The Texas district court granted Woodward's motion and plaintiffs refiled their complaint against both defendants in Illinois.

[¶2] The Illinois circuit court granted defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to section 2-619(a)(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(4) (West 2012)), finding that the Texas court's order dismissing plaintiffs' complaint precluded it from considering whether plaintiffs were entitled to refile their suit in Illinois. While we conclude that the trial court erred in finding that the Texas court's order barred it from reaching that question, we also conclude that plaintiffs were not entitled to refile their complaint in Illinois. We thus affirm the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint.

[¶3] I. BACKGROUND

[¶4] Plaintiffs were bystanders injured during a plane crash in Mexico City, Mexico, on November 4, 2008. On November 3, 2009, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the circuit court of Cook County, alleging that the plane contained faulty parts, including the horizontal stabilizer actuator manufactured by defendants, whose principal place of business was in Illinois.

[¶5] On December 10, 2010, the Cook County circuit court granted defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for forum non conveniens, finding that Harris

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County, Texas, was a more appropriate forum. Reflecting the conditions to dismissal for forum non conveniens listed in Illinois Supreme Court Rule 187(c)(2) (eff. Aug. 1, 1986), the trial court included the following language in its order (the forum non conveniens order):

" Defendants' Motions to Dismiss on the basis of forum non conveniens are hereby granted upon the conditions that:
(1) If Plaintiff elects to file the action in another forum within six months of after the dismissal, including joining Defendants to the case *** Pending in the District Court of Harris County, Texas, all defendants named in the instant matter ...

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