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Susman v. North Star Trust Co.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

March 31, 2015

ROBERT M. SUSMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NORTH STAR TRUST COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

Page 623

As Corrected.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. 2014 L 2839. The Honorable Patrick J. Sherlock, Judge, presiding.

For APPELLANT: Barbara A. Susman, esq., Susman & Associates, P.C., Chicago, IL.

For APPELLEE: Leonard S. Shifflett, Christopher J. Zdarsky, QUARLES & BRADY LLP, Chicago, Illinois.

JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Palmer and Justice Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

GORDON, JUSTICE.

Page 624

[¶1] In this appeal, plaintiff Robert M. Susman appeals from the trial court's grant of defendant North Star Trust Company's forum non conveniens motion to transfer this case from Cook County to Lake County. The underlying case concerns the transfer of an interest in real property located in Lake County. For the following reasons, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting the forum non conveniens motion and we affirm.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] Plaintiff brought this action against defendant seeking damages caused by defendant's alleged breach of fiduciary duty in defendant's role as the trustee for land trust No. 1570, created May 20, 1961 (the land trust).

[¶4] The real estate at issue is located in Lake County, and title to it was placed in the land trust by Matt and Angeline Susman on May 20, 1961, by a deed recorded in Lake County. Thereafter, Matt and Angeline Susman died and their two sons, Robert and Donald Susman, became the beneficiaries of the land trust. Robert Susman is the plaintiff in the instant action. After Donald Susman's death, a probate proceeding was commenced in the circuit court of Lake County.

[¶5] In the instant action, plaintiff alleges that in March 2009, defendant, which was the entity administering the land trust, erroneously issued two trustee deeds conveying trust property from the land trust, of which plaintiff was a beneficiary, to the executor of the estate of Donald Susman. It is this transfer which forms the basis of plaintiff's one-count complaint for breach of fiduciary duty.

[¶6] Before answering or otherwise responding to the complaint, defendant moved to transfer the case from Cook County to Lake County pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. On August 12, 2014, the trial court granted defendant's motion; and on September 11, 2014, plaintiff filed a petition seeking leave of this court to appeal this decision. On October 10, 2014, we granted plaintiff's petition, and this appeal followed.

Page 625

[¶7] ANALYSIS

[¶8] In this interlocutory appeal, plaintiff appeals the trial court's grant of defendant's forum non conveniens motion to transfer the case from Cook County to Lake County. For the following reasons, we affirm.

[¶9] I. Interlocutory Appeal

[¶10] Defendant moved the trial court pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 187 (eff. Jan. 4, 2013) to transfer this case from Cook County to Lake County. Rule 187(a) provides: " A motion to dismiss or transfer the action under the doctrine of forum non conveniens must be filed by a party not later than 90 days after the last day allowed for the filing of that party's answer." Ill. S.Ct. R. 187(a) (eff. Jan. 4, 2013). If the trial court orders an " [i]ntrastate transfer of action," the " clerk of the court from which a transfer is granted to another circuit court in this State on the ground of forum non conveniens shall immediately certify and transmit to the clerk of the court to which the transfer is ordered the originals of all documents filed in the case together with copies of all orders entered therein." Ill. S.Ct. R. 187(c) (eff. Jan. 4, 2013). The rule further provides: " The clerk of the court to which the transfer is ordered shall file the documents and transcript transmitted to him or her and docket the case, and the action shall proceed and be determined as if it had originated in that court." Ill. S.Ct. R. 187(c) (eff. Jan. 4, 2013).

[¶11] Since the trial court ordered an intrastate transfer, this is an interlocutory appeal, taken pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 306 (eff. July 1, 2014). Rule 306 permits a party to petition the appellate court for leave to appeal " an order of the circuit court allowing or denying a motion to dismiss on the grounds of forum non conveniens, or from an order of the circuit court allowing or denying a motion to transfer a case to another county within this State on such grounds." Ill. S.Ct. R. 306(a)(2) (eff. July 1, ...


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