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Appellate Court Upholds Venue in Priest Lawsuit

Posted on: January 7th, 2016 by Romanucci & Blandin

As 2015 came to a close, an Illinois state appeals panel found that transferring a sexual abuse case involving a Catholic priest from Cook County Circuit Court to Will County Circuit Court was reasonable.

Romanucci & Blandin served as the trial lawyers, prepared the brief at the trial level which was affirmed by the appellate court, and continues its pursuit of justice on behalf of sexual abuse victims in this important case.

As reported by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the 1st District Appellate Court panel said it was not convinced by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet – the defendant in the suit – that the case should be transferred to the neighboring DuPage County Circuit Court instead of Will’s.

In 2014, five plaintiffs sued the diocese alleging that one of its former priests sexually abused three of them between 1980 and 1982.

The diocese filed a motion to transfer the case’s venue to DuPage County. In their motion, the plaintiffs agreed to switching venues from Cook County, but sought to transfer it to Will County. In February 2015, the diocese’s motion to move the venue was granted, but Cook County Associate Judge Daniel T. Gillespie sided with the plaintiffs as to the destination.

Both the plaintiffs and the diocese argued similar points for why the case should be transferred to their respective circuit courts of choice. The panel evaluated whether the case should be moved to Will or DuPage County on the basis of forum non conveniens. In using this doctrine, the panel examined both public and private interest factors for why the case should be moved from its original jurisdiction. In weighing both of these factors, the panel found the diocese did not make the case for why DuPage is more convenient than Will, where the diocese is located. When examining public interest factors, the panel found that residents of both counties are connected to the litigation, and both have an interest in deciding it locally.

The case is Parent Doe A, et al. v. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, 2015 IL App (1st) 150565.

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