DaimlerChrysler wants case transfered based on forum non conveniens

By Steve Gonzalez | Jan 6, 2006

Based on forum non conveniens, DaimlerChrysler will argue its motion to transfer a case filed by a Putnam, Ill. woman during a hearing Jan. 13.

Janet Goode, who lives 190 miles north of Edwardsville, is seeking more than $350,000 in damages from the Michigan automaker. She filed suit June 24, 2005, claiming injuries after she allegedly ran over her leg while she attempted to stop her run-away vehicle.

The incident occurred Feb. 19, 2004, when Goode's 1998 Jeep allegedly suddenly slipped from park to reverse. Her clothes got caught on the vehicle, which pulled her to the ground and caused the front left tire to run over her leg.

Goode bought her Jeep from co-defendant Competition Auto in Princeton, Ill. on July 16, 2003.

According to the complaint, the vehicle had a brake shift interlock system which Chrysler developed in 1993.

The suit claims prior to the manufacture of Goode's vehicle, Chrysler learned that the interlock could malfunction allowing the vehicle to suddenly shift from park to reverse even when the engine was not running.

Chrysler recalled 1.6 million Jeep Cherokee's on Feb 15, 2002, because it learned that an internal shaft lever within the transmission could land on a flat space between reverse and park leaving the car in "hydraulic neutral."

Goode claims Chrysler is strictly liable in tort because:

  • Chrysler knew or should have known the Jeep was unreasonably dangerous when placed into the stream of commerce in that it can shift from park to reverse;
  • The defect was in design and manufacturing;
  • The Jeep was unaccompanied by adequate warnings of the danger of the vehicle when slipping out of park into reverse;
  • Chrysler knew of the propensity of the Jeep to slip out of park prior to the time of manufacture; and
  • The Jeep's transmission and brake shift interlock specifically reached Goode in the same condition as when it left the control of Chrysler.

    "Chrysler had a duty to sell, design, and manufacture a reasonably safe vehicle but breached that duty by selling a vehicle that could shift from park to reverse, and breach of that duty caused personal injuries to Goode including surgery to her leg," the complaint states.

    Goode also claims that Chrysler made false material representation regarding the Jeep's safety and express warranties in sales literature, advertisements, and sales promotional communications that the Jeep was safe.

    "Chrysler successfully established a profitable market for its defective product by causing purchasers and users to be ignorant of the known defect in their product, subjecting Goode to a false sense of security and confidence in the safety of the Jeep," the complaint states.

    Goode accuses the dealership of failing to tell her that the Jeep had been previously subjected to a recall.

    Goode is represented by Robert Rowland of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli od Edwardsville.

    In the motion to transfer, Heather Erickson of Chicago writes, "The complaint provides no indication why venue in Madison County is proper."

    Erickson claims that all of Goode's witnesses are located in Putman and Bureau counties and that co-defendant Competition Auto and the majority of Goode's medical providers are from Bureau County.

    "Goode's complaint and discovery responses support defendants' contention that forum in Madison County is not convenient, and that Goode has no relevant contacts with Madison County," Erickson writes.

    Erickson also wrote, "Having absolutely no connection to this action, it is unclear how Madison County and its residents could have any interest in the resolution of this case and the burdens associated with its trial."

    She also claims that Goode's choice of forum should be given less deference since she resides in Putnam County, not Madison County. They are asking Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian to transfer the case to either Putnam or Bureau County.

    05 L 590

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