Ann Maher Jul. 29, 2016, 1:00pm


Attorneys representing Aldi Inc. in a Madison County premises liability lawsuit say that public and private interest factors heavily favor moving the case to a court in Howell County, Mo., where the plaintiff's alleged injuries took place.

Delivery driver Michael Wilson of Troy filed the suit in February against Aldi and Dean Foods, claiming he was injured while delivering milk products to an Aldi's store in West Plains, Mo. in 2014.

The suit says that injuries occurred in the process of loading milk onto large carts called bossies, supplied and maintained by Dean. He claims that while pushing a loaded bossy up a defective ramp at Aldi, the bossy struck a nail in the plywood ramp and turned over. The plaintiff claims he then fell and suffered serious injury.

Aldi attorneys John Kemppainen and Jennifer Woulfe of Rynearson, Suess, Schnurbusch and Champion in St. Louis, have denied negligence, saying that Wilson failed to pay attention to his surroundings.

They also seek to transfer the case.

In a July 11 motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens, Aldi attorneys say the Madison County courthouse is more than 200 miles from West Plains, Mo. where the plaintiff's alleged injuries occurred.

The lawyers cite the 2014 Annual Report of the Illinois Courts - what they say is the most current version available - noting that Madison County had a pending caseload of 49,747 cases at the end of 2014.

"Further, the average number of months between filing date to jury verdicts for law cases over $50,000 was 35.2 months, or almost three years," they wrote.

They state that Howell County, Missouri, wherein West Plains lies, had 6,668 cases pending at the end of its 2014 fiscal year.

"Howell County also disposed of 89% of its circuit civil cases (civil cases with a value greater than $25,000) within 24 months, with only 6% of its civil cases pending for more than 30 months.

"The average age of its circuit civil cases at the time of disposition was 336 days, or less than one year."

Aldi says that witnesses are likely to be located in West Plains.

"Thus they would not be subject to compulsory process in the Illinois courts should they be unwilling to cooperate," the lawyers wrote.

"Further, even obtaining the attendance of willing witnesses would prove difficult due to the costs of travel and likely necessity of overnight accommodations."

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder presides.

A case management conference is scheduled Aug. 24.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-246

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