Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, October 21, 2019

Keefe opposes wrongful death case transfer to Clinton Co. at hearing before judge he contributed $13K

Attorneys & Judges

By Record News | Aug 5, 2019


Keefe and Rudolf

BELLEVILLE – St. Clair County jurors would give Paulette Evans of Clinton County a fairer trial against her county’s only hospital than Clinton County jurors would, attorney Tom Keefe argued for her at a hearing in a wrongful death case on July 31. 

Keefe said half the jurors in Clinton County would be employees of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese, or family of employees, or people who were treated there. 

He also told Circuit Judge Heinz Rudolf that the hospital is the most minor party in the suit, which involves four other defendants. 

Hospital counsel Jason Gourley of Belleville said he was pleased to hear that. 

Rudolf rendered no decision but directed Keefe and Gourley to file proposed orders in 30 days. 

Keefe contributed $13,000 to Rudolf’s campaign for circuit judge last year.    

Keefe filed the suit in 2017, alleging wrongful death on behalf of Paulette Evans as administrator of the estate of Darrell Evans. 

The suit seeks damages from providers Urology Consultants and Dugan Radiology, and from physicians Jeffrey Parres and Thomas Doyle. 

Defendants moved for transfer to Clinton County. 

Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson initially assigned the case to circuit judge Vincent Lopinot, who retired last December without ruling on the motion. 

Keefe amended the complaint in December, to add St. Joseph’s as defendant. 

St. Joseph’s moved for transfer in May, claiming Clinton County residents had a compelling interest in a controversy involving the county’s only hospital. 

Keefe opposed transfer in June, claiming St. Clair County had a legitimate interest. 

He wrote that the claim against St. Joseph’s involved a clerical error and that there were, at most, two witnesses to the error.  

He identified Evans as an Illinois resident living adjacent to her chosen forum.  

He wrote that the alleged negligent acts of other defendants occurred in Madison County or St. Louis County. 

On July 26, hospital counsel Michael Nester wrote that residents of a county where treatment was rendered have a significant interest in a medical malpractice case, and that a majority of occurrence witnesses are located in Clinton County, and none are located in St. Clair County. 

At Rudolf’s hearing, Gourley said, “It’s a question of the sheer number of witnesses in Clinton County as opposed to St. Clair County.” 

Gourley said it would be unfair to burden St. Clair County residents with jury duty. 

Keefe called Gourley’s argument intellectually dishonest and said, “I thought he was better than that.” 

St. Joseph’s was one small part of the case, and he would call only one person from St. Joseph’s, Keefe said.

He also said two of Dugan Radiology’s largest satellite offices are in St. Clair County; evidence would come from those who knew Darrell Evans and many of them live in St. Clair County; and forum litigation does nothing but delay prosecution of lawsuits.

Rudolf said he was surprised no other defendants appeared. 

Their transfer motion remains pending. 

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