Mardi Gras in New Orleans has an anything-goes reputation and out-of-towners descend upon the city every year to make fools of themselves. Spring break in parts of Florida is a similar phenomenon, drawing would-be libertines from all corners of the country. Public nudity and urination and vomiting are all part of the "fun."
Of course, if you live in New Orleans or near the beach in Florida, you may not have a favorable impression of tourists who come to your hometown for the express purpose of doing things they would never think of doing in their own backyard.
You might, in fact, find it offensive.
That's pretty much how we feel about venue-shopping plaintiffs and plaintiffs attorneys who have descended on Madison County with the apparent belief that we natives have all taken a vacation from common sense and fairness.
We're tired of hearing outsiders say "Anything goes in Madison County -- you can game the system there." We know that thinking is wrong and unfair.
So, it would seem, does Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth. Last month, Ruth sent four of five plaintiffs back where they came from – Sangamon and Cook Counties – to pursue their alleged complaints in their own jurisdictions.
Along with one local woman, the out-of-towners had filed suit against the makers of Levaquin, an antibiotic prescribed for lung and sinus diseases that has recently been targeted by attorneys as the cause of tendon injuries.
Defendants argued the five suits were improperly joined and Madison County was an inconvenient venue for hearing the suits.
Plaintiffs responded the claims shared questions of law and splitting them would mean more cases to try – i.e., more effort for attorneys such as Jeffrey Lowe, a serial filer of frivolous lawsuits best known for his crusade against the terrifying mini-blind menace.
We haven't seen the last of the venue shoppers; but, if other judges followed Ruth's example, Madison County might lose its unsavory reputation -- and attract a better class of visitors.