Saying it wouldn't be convenient for all parties, Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge denied a hospital’s request to transfer out a medical malpractice lawsuit.
“Though the acts or omissions alleged in plaintiffs’ complaint occurred in Montgomery County, and some of the defendants are more centered in that county, the moving defendants have not established that Madison County is inconvenient to all the parties,” he wrote in the Jan. 8 order.
In their April 4 complaint, Danny and Kathleen Foster allege that the defendants failed to timely diagnose and treat the presence of a large gastric ulcer, resulting in emergency life-saving surgery and numerous complications.
The suit names Hillsboro Area Hospital Inc., Springfield Clinic LLP, Arthur C. Sippo M.D. MPH, Clinical Radiologists S.C. and Drs. Laurel Kietaman, Arthur Sippo, Brandon Wynn and Barbara Mulch as defendants.
Hillsboro Area Hospital filed its motion to transfer on June 4, arguing that the forum non conveniens doctrine makes transfer to Montgomery County appropriate. Several defendants joined the motion to transfer, except for Wynn and Clinical Radiologists.
According to their transfer requests, the defendants argue that Foster lived in Montgomery County at the time of the alleged events asserted in the complaint, but now lives in Arizona – meaning he “should be given little, if any deference.”
The defendants seeking transfer also argued that Montgomery County would be more convenient for all defendant parties involved as they are scattered across various counties and because all of the alleged acts or omissions occurred there.
While defendant Arthur Sippo resides and practices in Madison County, the defendants claimed that Foster received no care or treatment by Sippo locally.
Mudge disagreed, saying that convenience must also “logically include where a party resides and does business.”
“It is difficult to imagine how Madison County is inconvenient to a party who lives and does business here,” he wrote.
The defendants further alleged that Madison County would have little interest in the case.
Summarizing the defendants' argument, Mudge's order states that “Madison County residents should not be burdened with the imposition of jury duty regarding a matter of which they have no connection since it arose out of an occurrence in Montgomery County."
Unconvinced, however, Mudge determined the defendants failed to demonstrate that it is unfair to impose jury duty upon Madison County residents because this county has several connections to the litigation, especially with Sippo.
Arguing against the transfer request, the plaintiff noted that the defendants had the burden of proving that Montgomery County would be more convenient for all parties and stressed that not all defendants joined the hospital's motion to transfer.
Mudge agreed, concluding that because two of the defendants did not join the motion to transfer, the other defendants failed to prove transferring the case to Montgomery County would be convenient for all of the parties.
The Fosters are represented by Burton M. Greenberg of St. Louis.
Mulch and Springfield Clinic are represented by James E. Neville and Derek J. Siegel of Neville, Richards & Wuller LLC, in Bellleville.
Hillsboro Area Hospital is represented by Richard K. Hunsaker and Ann C. Barron of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen in Edwardsville.
Kietzman and Sippo are represented by Terese A. Drew of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in St. Louis.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-530
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