In 2002, the Illinois Central Railroad was sued in the State of Mississippi where plaintiff Walter Fennell lived. The lawsuit alleged that he and others were exposed to asbestos when working for the railroad. After discovery was completed in 2006, the trial court in Mississippi dismissed the case without prejudice. The plaintiff, instead of re-filing in Mississippi, filed the lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Ill., in 2009.
Again after discovery had been conducted, the defendant, Illinois Central Railroad, moved the court to dismiss the case under the interstate doctrine of forum non conveniens. The St. Clair County circuit court judge denied that motion and the case was appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, which also affirmed the trial judge’s decision. This occurred in 2010. The case was then appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the citizens of St. Clair County should not be asked to bear the burden of this lawsuit because the vast majority of the identified witnesses, treating physicians and some of the plaintiffs were residing in Mississippi and not in Illinois.