Walgreens wants Greene County claimant's case transferred out of Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 2, 2008, 4:34am

Walgreens wants a lawsuit that alleges it gave the wrong dose of medication to a patient transferred from Madison County to Jersey County.

The Deerfield-based company argues that a suit filed by Diane Vanmeter should be transferred based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens (FNC) because public and private interest factors strongly favor transfer.

Represented by Michael Reda of Hepler Broom in Edwardsville, Walgreens argues Vanmeter, a resident of White Hall in Greene County, had her prescriptions filled in Jersey County, not Madison County.

Vanmeter filed suit in December 2007, alleging the Jerseyville Walgreens negligently and carelessly failed to distribute proper amounts of pharmaceutical products on Nov. 9, 2006.

She also claims Walgreens negligently failed to properly fill a prescription order as set out by her physician, failed to supervise employees filling prescriptions and distributed an amount of product exceeding her prescription.

Walgreens also argues the physician who prescribed the medication was located in Jerseyville, the store manager lives in Jerseyville and the pharmacy manager also lives in Jerseyville.

Vanmeter has alleged she lost her job and was in an automobile accident as a result of the prescription being filled incorrectly.

Walgreens argues that Vanmeter was employed at ARC of Jacksonville and the driver of the other vehicle in the car accident that occurred in Jacksonville resides in Jerseyville.

In addition, Walgreens argues the two witnesses Vanmeter plans to call live outside of Madison County.

Walgreens argues the doctrine of FNC allows the court in which the action was filed to decline jurisdiction and direct the lawsuit to an alternate forum that can better serve the convenience of the parties and the ends of justice.

Walgreens also points out that Vanmeter would likely drive past the courthouse in Jerseyville, which is 29 miles from her residence, en route to the Madison County Courthouse in Edwardsville, which is 56 miles from her home.

The pharmacy also argues it would be inconvenient for its key witnesses that are already in Jerseyville to travel to Madison County for trial.

Walgreens argues that Jersey County courts are less congested than Madison County.

"In Madison County, there were a total of 2,873 law cases for damages in excess of $50,000 pending at the end of 2006," the motion states. "In Jersey County, however, there were only 56 law cases for damages in excess of $50,000 pending at the end of 2006."

Walgreens further argues the citizens of Madison County have little or no interest in trying the action of a nonresident while the residents of Jersey County have a significant interest factor in the dispute.

Walgreens also says that even though the plaintiff has a substantial right to choose his or her forum -- and that the choice should rarely be disturbed -- choice of forum deserves less deference when it is not where the accident occurred or where the plaintiff lives.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian will hear arguments on the motion at 9 a.m. on Oct. 10.

Vanmeter is represented by Lance Mallon and Dawna Hale of Wood River.

She is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 alleging she suffered internal and external injuries, pain and suffering, disability, medical expenses and lost wages.

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