Ill. Supreme Court Ruling Spotlights Venue Reform

November 17, 2005

The Illinois Supreme Court today ruled that a lawsuit brought in Illinois by a Louisiana plaintiff did not belong in an Illinois state court.

In Gridley v. State Farm , the high court remanded the issue to the circuit court with directions to enter an order granting State Farm’s motion to dismiss, based on the fact that the case did not belong in an Illinois court.

In Gridley, the plaintiff resides in Louisiana where he alleged wrongdoing, and raised issues of title laws, in connection with a purchase he made there. The case also involved witnesses and evidence located almost entirely in Louisiana. Aside from State Farm’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Ill., there was no connection to Illinois, yet he brought his case to Madison County–long characterized as a “judicial hellhole” by the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA).

An amicus brief filed by the American Insurance Association (AIA) and other interests argued that the case underscores the impact of improperly applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens, which allows a court to reject jurisdiction over a case and dismiss it for reasons such as if the convenience of the parties and the interest of justice would be better served if the case were brought in a more proper venue. In this situation, the case belonged in the plaintiff’s home state of Louisiana.

Coincidentally, the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee held a subject matter-only hearing today in Chicago where new evidence of “litigation tourism” was presented. The Illinois Civil Justice League presented data from a statewide study that quantifies the problem and shows that citizens in certain counties across the state are unduly burdened by a significantly higher number of civil cases in their local courts when compared to the rest of the state.

The Court’s ruling in Christopher Gridley v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, case No. 94144, can be found at:

Topics Legislation Louisiana Illinois

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