Crowder takes Raging Rivers venue motion under advisement

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 5, 2008, 11:26am

A motion to transfer a personal injury case to a neighboring county has been taken under advisement by Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

Raging Rivers Water Park wants Crowder to transfer to Jersey County a lawsuit filed by a mother and her child who sustained face, mouth, gum and teeth injuries at the Grafton water park two years ago was improperly filed in Madison County.

Wendy V. Kerr filed the lawsuit on behalf of her minor son who allegedly sustained injuries on the Space Bowl ride.

In addition to Raging Rivers, Kerr is seeking damages from Space Bowl's designer Strurart-Leisure Ltd., alleging the British firm "failed to construct the amusement ride in such a manner as to avoid teeth from catching on seams or lips of the surface of the ride while patrons traversed the base of the ride."

Kerr's son, Gage A. Kerr, was injured in 2006, according to the complaint filed June 13. The exact date of the injury is not named in the complaint.

Represented by Thomas G. Maag of Wendler Law in Edwardsville, Kerr is seeking in excess of $200,000 in damages plus costs.

Kerr claims Raging Rivers failed to prevent patrons from becoming ensnared within the water slide which rendered the ride unreasonably dangerous.

On July 31, Raging Rivers filed their motion to transfer the case arguing that they are located in Jersey County.

James Craney of Brown & James in St. Louis represents Raging Rivers.

At the October hearing, Raging Rivers argued that Gage Kerr was allegedly injured on the premises of the water park, therefore the transaction for which her cause of action arises occurred in Jersey County.

Raging Rivers also argued that co-defendant Strurart-Leisure, which is based in England, does not maintain or do business in Madison County, nor are they a resident of Illinois.

According to Raging Rivers, the meaning of the phrase "doing business" for the purposes of corporate residency under the general venue statute was discussed in Boxdorfer v. DaimlerChrysler.

Raging Rivers contends the Boxdorfer opinion exemplifies that under the circumstances, Raging Rivers is not 'doing business' in Madison County for the purposes of Illinois' venue statute.

Raging Rivers argued since the injury did not occur in Madison County and because no defendant is a resident of Madison County, venue in Madison County is inappropriate.

Raging Rivers asked that Crowder grant their motion to transfer for improper venue and instruct the clerk to certify and transmit the original documents to the clerk of Jersey County.

But, Maag argued in 2000, another minor child filed a lawsuit similar in Madison County and it was allowed to stay.

In addition, Maag argued on its Web site, Raging Rivers offers package deals with hotels that are located in Madison County.

Maag also said Raging Rivers offers ticket promotions through Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in which tickets can be purchased at a discount.

Maag also "emphatically asserts" that sufficient contacts exist to fix venue in Madison County because Raging Rivers secretary's address is located in Alton.

Maag told Crowder he attempted to call and email Craney to withdraw the motion to transfer before he would move for sanctions.

He provided Crowder with a copy of a letter mailed to Craney in which Maag states, "I have incontrovertible proof that, on the date that this Complaint was filed, Raging Rivers was doing business in Madison County, Illinois.

In the letter, Maag informed Craney if he did not withdraw the motion, he would ask Crowder to award costs and attorney fees as sanctions for filing a "frivolous motion."

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