The hypothetical goes something like this.In Cook County, where the accident occurred?
A truck rams into and totals a car somewhere near Chicago, in Cook County. The car’s driver plans to sue for damages. Where should he do it?
In DuPage County, where the driver lives?
In Joliet, where the trucker lives?
In Peoria, where the truck was built?
In Detroit, where the car was built?
In Springfield, where the road builder is based.
All of the above.
Punctuated with a lawyerly shrug, a version of this baffler was shared last week at an Illinois Senate committee hearing. The storyteller, a leading plaintiff’s attorney, was making her case against a bill that would require the answer be “a,” or where the accident occurred.
That seemed the common sense choice to us, too. But who are we—just simple folks who cannot write “J.D.” after our names.
Over our pedestrian little heads, this counselor argued to preserve her right to choose “h,” or our historic-- if unrelated-- little venue on Main Street. It’s about the victims and their rights, she pointed out, with the determined eloquence of a QVC pitchman.
We thought the lawyers came here because our courts were “plaintiff friendly” and afforded them leverage in their quest for a quick and dirty settlement. Color us corrected.
She might spin her yarn next to Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Thomas, whose opinion last week against so-called “forum shopping” indicates he doesn’t get it either.
Thomas led the court in rebuffing the judicial handiwork of former Fifth Appellate Court Justice Gordon Maag and now-retired Third Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis. Both had allowed a Louisiana man to pick “h” for his class action lawsuit against State Farm Insurance.
Chris Gridley claimed he was wronged when he bought a Volvo down on the Bayou. Why did he head so far upriver to our county, applying our state law for his lawsuit?
That’s just because over the past decade, Madison County has been some kind of Wal-Mart for professional forum shoppers. There's no better deal to be found.
Here’s another hypothetical for you-- imagine if our entire bench followed the brave lead of Judge Daniel Stack, sending shameless shoppers back from which they came?
A decade from now, Madison County may conjure up a long, coarse root. Far better than a "hellhole."