Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 16-L-12605; the
Hon. John H. Ehrlich, Judge, presiding.
D. Guerra, Ted L. Perryman, and Steven A. Ahillen, of St.
Louis, Missouri, for appellants.
Gregory A. Patricoski and Mark G. Patricoski, of Patricoski
Law Offices, of Wheaton, for appellee.
JUSTICE PUCINSKI delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Mason and Hyman concurred in the judgment
1 Plaintiff Sergiu Tabirta filed a negligence action in Cook
County, Illinois, against James Cummings and Glister Mary Lee
Corporation (GML) after sustaining injuries in a vehicle
accident that occurred in Ohio. Defendants, in turn,
challenged Tabirta's chosen venue because the accident
did not occur in Cook County and neither defendant admitted
to being a "resident" of the county as required by
the Illinois venue statute. The circuit court denied
defendants' motions to change venue, and defendants have
appealed the court's ruling. For the reasons explained
herein, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On December 13, 2016, at approximately 2:20 p.m., a tractor
trailer driven by Cummings collided with the commercial truck
that plaintiff was driving near mile post 168 on
Interstate Road 71, a public highway located in Delaware
County, Ohio. At the time of the accident, the tractor
trailer that Cummings was operating was owned by GML, a
Missouri corporation that manufactures, sells, and delivers
private-label nonperishable food items and has its principal
place of business located in Randolph County, Illinois.
Tabirta suffered multiple serious injuries as a result of the
accident, including the amputation of both of his legs.
4 Following the accident, Tabirta brought suit against
Cummings and GML. Tabirta alleged in pertinent part that
Cummings was negligent in the manner in which he operated the
tractor trailer. Tabirta further alleged that Cummings was an
agent of GML at the time of the accident, and thus he sought
to hold the company accountable pursuant to an agency theory
of liability. Tabirta, a resident of Cook County, Illinois,
filed his suit in Cook County. He mistakenly identified GML
as an Illinois corporation with its principal place of
business in Cook County, Illinois.
5 In response, GML filed a motion to dismiss Tabirta's
lawsuit on the grounds that it was not initiated in a proper
venue. Alternatively, GML requested that Tabirta's suit
be transferred to an appropriate venue. In support of its
motion, GML argued: "Defendant James Cummings does not
reside in Cook County, Illinois. Defendant GML does not own
or lease any property in Cook County, does not have a
registered office/agent in Cook County, and does not conduct
its usual and customary business in Cook County." Given
that the vehicle accident that precipitated Tabirta's
lawsuit did not occur in Cook County, Illinois, and that
neither defendant resided in Cook County, Illinois, GML
argued that the requirements of the Illinois venue statute
were not satisfied.
6 In support of its motion, GML attached an affidavit
completed by Michael Heffernan, the company's
transportation safety and risk manager. In his affidavit,
Heffernan averred that GML is a Missouri corporation with its
registered agent and principal place of business located at
"1037 State Street, Chester, Illinois, 62233, County of
Randolph." Heffernan further averred that GML does not
own or lease any real property or office space in Cook County
and does not have an authorized agent in Cook County.
Heffernan also stated that GML "does not conduct its
usual and customary business within Cook County,
Illinois," and expressly denied that GML designs,
manufactures, advertises, or finances its products from
within Cook County. Finally, Heffernan averred that GML's
"annual sales in Cook County, Illinois, in 2016
constituted 0.19% *** of its overall national annual
sales" and that GML's annual sales in Cook County
"did not exceed 0.47% of its overall national
sales" during any of the five years preceding the
7 Cummings also filed a motion to dismiss Tabirta's
lawsuit or, alternatively, to transfer to the suit to another
venue. He expressly adopted, realleged, and incorporated the
substance of GML's motion in his own filing.
8 After defendants filed their motions challenging
Tabirta's chosen venue, the parties engaged in limited
discovery with respect to that issue. During the course of
that discovery, GML submitted answers to plaintiff's
interrogatory requests, and several of its employees were
9 In its answers, GML admitted that it had conducted business
in Cook County since 1968 but denied that it was "doing
business" in the county within the meaning of the
Illinois venue statute. Specifically, GML admitted that it
purchased materials and supplies from vendors located in Cook
County and that it sold some products to customers located in
Cook County. In addition, GML acknowledged that delivery
vehicles that it owned traveled on roads in Cook County. GML,
however, denied advertising in Cook County. GML's total
national and international ...