MOUNT VERNON – Oral arguments were heard by Fifth District appellate justices on Wednesday in four consolidated St. Clair County asbestos cases being challenged on forum.
Attorney Robert Shultz of Edwardsville, arguing for defendants, said cases involving plaintiffs from Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that were accepted by former Circuit Judge Patrick Young have no meaningful connection to the state of Illinois.
He called plaintiffs' choice of court "forum shopping."
For the plaintiffs, Edward Kionka of Carbondale, said defendants, which number between 40-70 in each case, have not shown that some other venue is more convenient.
He argued that the 60-year-old forum non conveniens doctrine has a different meaning in a 21st century that offers digital technology and instant communication.
"It is common knowledge that in the 21st century defendant corporations do not have be physically present to defend litigation," Kionka said.
The cases were filed last year by
Judy Cates and David Cates of Swansea in association with Kionka and Chicago lawyers John Cooney and Kevin Conway.
In the meantime, St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson dismissed four other asbestos cases June 9 on defendants' forum non conveniens motion.