Illinois Review Courts Hard At Work

Posted: 6/8/2020

Notwithstanding the current delays in the Illinois courts due to the pandemic, the Illinois review courts have been hard at work and have just recently released the following opinions:

Jurisdiction  |  Illinois Sup. Ct. (overturning 5th Dist.)

Rios v. Bayer Corp., 2020 IL 125020 (June 4, 2020) Madison Co. (THEIS) Appellate court reversed; circuit court reversed; remanded with directions.  The court basically said: “Where no adequate link exists between Illinois and the nonresident plaintiffs’ claims, it necessarily follows that Illinois lacks specific personal jurisdiction over defendants as to those claims.”  Some particularly strong language in the opinion stated the following:

“[e]ven if the defendant would suffer minimal or no inconvenience from being forced to litigate before the tribunals of another State; even if the forum State has a strong interest in applying its law to the controversy; even if the forum State is the most convenient location for litigation, the Due Process Clause, acting as an instrument of interstate federalism, may sometimes act to divest the State of its power to render a valid judgment.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Bristol-Myers, 582 U.S. at ___, 137 S. Ct. at 1780-81.

These factors weigh strongly against Illinois courts exercising specific personal jurisdiction over defendants for the out-of-state plaintiffs’ claims. Illinois has no particular interest in resolving claims that did not arise out of or relate to activities that occurred here. Plaintiffs’ interest in obtaining relief also does not weigh in favor of Illinois courts’ exercise of specific personal jurisdiction as to non-Illinois plaintiffs. (emphasis added)

Interestingly, Justice Kilbride concurred (with Neville joining) basically bowing to federal Constitutional principles but pointing out that this exemplifies Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Bristol-Myers, i.e. that this makes it impossible for countrywide claims against a single manufacturer to be brought in a single jurisdiction.  Nonetheless, he agreed that this was a proper application of Bristol-Myers as written and thus, plaintiffs will be hard-pressed to raise the inability to bring all claims in one court as a basis for finding jurisdiction.

Forum Non Conveniens  |  5th Dist.

Kuhn v. Nicol, 2020 IL App (5th) 190225 (June 4, 2020) St. Clair Co. (MOORE) Reversed and remanded with directions.  Plaintiffs filed medical malpractice action, and court erred in denying hospital's motion to transfer venue from St. Clair County to Clinton County Madison on grounds of forum non conveniens.  The motion pointed out tha the plaintiffs resided in Clinton County and all the defendants either resided or worked there as well.  In opposition to the motion to transfer to Clinton County, the plaintiff presented an affidavit that identified medical professionals who were actively treating [the] plaintiff at medical facilities in Belleville and O’Fallon (St. Clair County) and additionally suggested that the plaintiff had several lay witnesses located in St. Clair County with information about the plaintiff’s condition.  Notwithstanding that argument, the court found that a balance of the relevant factors strongly favored transfer to Clinton County, and that a trial there would better serve the ends of justice and the convenience of the parties.