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May 5, 2020

Location Matters in Medical Malpractice Cases

Say you are injured by a doctor whose office is in Breese, which is in Clinton County. He or she is employed by HSHS Medical Group, a large corporation which has its downstate corporate office in St. Clair County.

Where does your medical malpractice lawsuit get filed?

A. St. Clair County

B. Clinton County

C. Either of the above

The answer is C. Under the law, either would be appropriate.

But if you’ve hired us, we’ll make sure to file your medical malpractice claim in St. Clair County, where jurors are known to be more open-minded and receptive to the idea of justice for injured plaintiffs.

Although it won’t be without a fight. And that’s what we wanted to bring to your attention with this blog post.

Any defense lawyer worth his or her salt will obviously want the converse. And because of an outdated doctrine that predates computers and the internet, they will have a mode for arguing for a transfer of your medical negligence case.

This means we might have to fight a transfer motion, and a possible appeal, to keep it here.

But as firm partner Thomas Q. Keefe, III writes in the Winter 2020 edition of Trial Magazine, we believe this archaic and often abused doctrine should be abolished.

It has not only strayed from its original intent, but is also being primarily used as a procedural weapon for the defense.

The doctrine we are referring to is called forum non conveniens. It basically means that if there’s another county which is substantially more ‘convenient’ for everyone, the court can transfer the case away from where the plaintiff filed it.

The doctrine has been around for decades —- and it used to make sense.

But that was before computers, internet and other technological advances made it very easy — very ‘convenient’ — to try a case in any of the 102 counties in Illinois.

Today it has no practical utility, but defense lawyers still argue it every chance they get, to try and get cases moved to counties which are perceived as more ‘defendant friendly.’

We don’t think that’s fair, because there’s nothing “inconvenient” about defending a case where a defendant has chosen to locate their headquarters.

And we definitely don’t think it’s fair that injured plaintiffs get their cases delayed for months (if not years) while personal injury attorneys argue in the appellate courts, all because of this dated doctrine.

In the end, as Keefe explains in this article, injured plaintiffs have to decide whether to fight on and starve, or relent and accept a quicker but diminished recovery.

And that just isn’t right.

The article is titled “A Solution in Search of a Problem: It is time to abolish the doctrine of intrastate forum non conveniens.

We urge you to give it a read.

We hope this article will encourage lawmakers to get rid of the doctrine entirely.

It’s another example of how we are always looking after our clients — whether inside the courthouse, or within the halls of government.