23 order filed August 22, 2019.
from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 17-L-454
Honorable Andrew J. Gleeson, Judge, presiding.
Attorneys Beth Kamp Veath, Bryce Pfalzgraf, Brown &
James, P.C., Appellants
Attorney Patrick T. Hinrichs, The Bradley Law Firm, LLC,
OVERSTREET PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Moore and Boie concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
OVERSTREET PRESIDING JUSTICE.
1 The defendants, Matt Haas (Haas), an employee of Schnuck
Markets, Inc.; employee of defendant Schnuck Markets, Inc.;
and Schnuck Markets, Inc. (Schnuck), appeal the November 21,
2018, order of the circuit court of St. Clair County that
denied their motion to dismiss/transfer based on forum
non conveniens. For the following reasons, we reverse
and remand with directions for the circuit court to enter an
order granting the defendants' motion and transferring
the cause to Monroe County.
3 On August 17, 2015, the plaintiff, Angela Shaw, was walking
in the vestibule of a store owned and operated by Schnuck,
located in the city of Waterloo in Monroe County, Illinois,
when Haas, acting within the scope of his employment with
Schnuck, was pushing a line of shopping carts into the
vestibule, lost control of the shopping carts, and caused
them to collide with Shaw, thereby injuring her.
4 On August 16, 2017, Shaw-a resident of Monroe County-filed
in the circuit court of St. Clair County a seven-count
personal injury complaint against Schnuck, an unidentified
employee of Schnuck referred to as "John Doe,
" and an employee of Schnuck, alleging
negligence, vicarious liability, res ipsa loquitor,
and negligent hiring, training, supervision, and retention.
5 On September 18, 2017, Schnuck filed a motion to
dismiss/transfer based on forum non conveniens,
alleging as follows: The facts giving rise to the claim
occurred in Monroe County. The unnamed defendants were acting
on behalf of Schnuck in Monroe County and are presumably
located in Monroe County. Shaw resides in Monroe County.
Schnuck conducts business in Monroe County. The citizens of
Monroe County have a greater interest in deciding the
controversy as opposed to those of St. Clair County. It would
be unfair to impose the burden and expense of the litigation
on St. Clair County, which has no connection to the
controversy. The evidence relating to the incident is located
in Monroe County. Any witnesses to the incident would have
been residing in or traveling through Monroe County, and it
would be more convenient for the parties and witnesses to
litigate the matter in Monroe County.
6 The motion to dismiss/transfer based on forum non
conveniens further alleged as follows: No events
relating to the litigation occurred in St. Clair County.
Although Schnuck operates a store in St. Clair County, its
unrelated business transactions there are not significant
factors for purposes of forum non conveniens. Shaw
engaged in forum shopping by filing the action in St. Clair
County and, as a result, no deference should be given to her
choice of forum there. St. Clair County has no legitimate
connection to the case.
7 The defendants requested that the circuit court enter an
order dismissing the complaint or, in the alternative,
transferring the complaint to Monroe County on the basis of
forum non conveniens. On August 15, 2018, Shaw filed
an amended complaint, adding Haas as a defendant. On
September 19, 2018, Haas filed a motion to join Schnuck's
motion to dismiss/transfer based on forum non
8 In her memorandum in opposition to the defendants'
joint motion to dismiss/transfer based on forum non
conveniens, Shaw argued that St. Clair County and Monroe
County are equally convenient for purposes of venue and
alleged as follows: Schnuck is a Missouri corporation with
its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, where
Schnuck's corporate representative would presumably be
located. Schnuck's headquarters and corporate
representative are closer to St. Clair County than Monroe
County. Schnuck operates two stores in St. Clair County. St.
Clair County has an interest in whether Schnuck implements
proper training procedures and policies that will protect St.
Clair County ...