State Farm seeks to transfer case to St. Louis; Cites congested docket in Madison County

Christina Stueve Hodges Aug. 24, 2012, 7:02am



State Farm Insurance requested to move a lawsuit against the company to St. Louis, stating that Madison County has been recognized as having a congested docket.

State Farm filed its transfer motion Aug. 17 based on forum non conveniens.

The lawsuit involves plaintiff Michael Reda, a partner at HeplerBroom, who sued State Farm in June over its alleged failure to pay for hail damage to his St. Louis home.

State Farm's motion says St. Louis is the location of the plaintiff's home and the inspection of the dwelling; the place of business of contractors involved in estimates, inspections and repairs; the place the insurance policy was executed and the place of business of the plaintiff's insurance agent.

"The witnesses are from Missouri," the motion states. "Although the defendant's home office is in Bloomington, Ill., the Madison County seat of Edwardsville, Ill. is scarcely closer than St. Louis City and it is no more convenient to the defendant than St. Louis City, where the dwelling is situated.

"There are no allegations in the complaint that any of the co-defendants have any connection to the State of Illinois. And even the plaintiff alleges they are residents of states other than Illinois. Thus, it appears the court may not have jurisdiction over co-defendants, whose conduct allegedly occurred outside Illinois.

"Madison County has been judicially recognized as having a congested docket, a factor favoring dismissal.

"The Madison County docket is more congested than the St. Louis City docket in that the population of St. Louis City is greater than the combined population of Madison and Bond Counties. St. Louis City has 30 judges, compared to Madison's 21, and at the year end of 2010, St. Louis City had 24,384 pending total cases compared to Madison County's 49,575 and 11,245 pending civil cases compared to Madison County's 16,969."

Reda also named Eberl's Claim Service Inc., William Joseph Van Vactor Jr. and Van's Adjusting Inc. as defendants.

Reda demands $60,000 in damages, plus court costs for roof repair. He argues that the claims adjuster and roof inspector determined the roof could be repaired rather than replaced.

The suit states the amount of roof damage established by Van Vactor, John Doe, Eberl's and State Farm was false.

Martin Morrissey and William Starnes on Aug. 17 announced their representation of State Farm.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis presides.

Troy E. Walton represents Reda.

Madison County Case number 12-L-892

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