Venue bill goes down on party lines

Ann Knef Feb. 16, 2006, 5:49am

ICJL President Ed Murnane

State Rep. Jay Hoffman

By a vote of 8-6, legislation defining where lawsuits should be filed was defeated along party lines in a State House committee Wednesday.

The bill defined proper venue as where all defendants reside, instead of the county of residence of any defendant joined in the lawsuit.

"This legislation would not have eliminated the opportunity for an injured person to file suit, nor would it have reduced the size of award," said Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League. "But it would have helped unclog some of the most active jurisdictions such as Madison, St. Clair and Cook Counties."

State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) serves on the committee and voted against measure, House Bill 4979.

Hoffman is a trial attorney by occupation and serves of counsel with the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River.

"It's disturbing that Representatives Hoffman and (John E.) Bradley (D-Marion), two southern Illinois legislators, who are very well aware of the litigation problems facing southern Illinois, would have bowed to the wishes of trial lawyers rather than paying attention to what's important to the voters in their districts," said Murnane.

The bill also defined appropriate venue as the county of residence of all plaintiffs at the time of the most significant act occurred and the county in which the most significant portion of the action took place.

The measure also required that when there are multiple plaintiffs who reside in various locales, venue is proper in the county where the most significant portion of the action took place. It also would have put an end to allowing suits in any county in which a company transacts business.

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