The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a ruling by a Cook County associate judge who denied a forum non conveniens challenge brought by Motorola in Joseph Erwin, Jr., et al. v. Motorola, Inc., No. 1-09-2847. The Illinois birth injury lawsuit involved allegations that the plaintiffs’ children suffered birth defects as a result of their parents’ exposure to hazardous chemicals in the course of their employment in Motorola’s semiconductor industry “clean rooms”.
Motorola’s motion involved a request of a change of venue, citing forum non conveniens rules to support its motion in the birth defect lawsuit. Forum non conveniens is Latin for “inconvenient forum” and are applicable when a lawsuit is filed in a location that is inconvenient for parties or witnesses. Under this principle, a judge is allowed to change a case’s venue if a party can make a substantial case for its inconvenience.
Erwin was filed in a Circuit Court of Cook County court on the basis that Motorola’s headquarters are in Schaumburg, Illinois. However, Motorola argued that a more appropriate venue was Travis County, Texas, on the basis that much of the plaintiffs’ exposure to the hazardous chemicals took place in that county. It submitted a motion to dismiss the birth injury lawsuit on the basis of forum non conveniens, which the circuit court judge denied. Motorola then appealed this decision to the Illinois Appellate Court.