Delay In Filing ''first Forum Non Conveniens'' Motions
The Forum Non Conveniens Doctrine Helps Those Who are Vigilant and Do Not Sleep on Their Rights
In Bell v. Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co., 106 Ill. 2d 135, 147, 478 N.E.2d 384, 88 Ill. Dec. 69 (1985), the supreme court considered three consolidated cases where the first forum non conveniens motions were filed 39 months, 34 months, and 32 months, respectively, after the plaintiff's complaints were filed. Bell, 106 Ill. 2d at 149.
In each case, the court ruled that defendants' delay in filing their motions to dismiss was unreasonable and affirmed the trial court's denial of defendants' request to change the forum.
In dicta, the court did note that it was necessary to "conduct some discovery to determine whether the motion is appropriate and that under court rules discovery could not begin until all the defendants had appeared" (Bell, 106 Ill. 2d at 146, citing Grant v. Starck, 96 Ill. App. 3d 297, 300, 421 N.E.2d 268, 51 Ill. Dec. 760 (1981), and McDonald's Corp. v. Smargon, 31 Ill. App. 3d 493, 499, 334 N.E.2d 385 (1975)); as such, a forum non conveniens motion "was not waived if not made before the date fixed for filing the answer." Bell, 106 Ill. 2d at 146.
Examining the timeliness of the defendants' motions, the Bell court reiterated that the animus for the creation of the forum non conveniens doctrine - equity - was founded in considerations of fundamental fairness and sensible and effective judicial administration." Bell, 106 Ill. 2d at 146, quoting Adkins v. Chicago Rock Island & Pacific R.R. Co., 54 Ill. 2d 511, 514, 301 N.E.2d 729 (1973).
The court stated that this equitable doctrine "aids the vigilant and not those who sleep on their rights." Bell, 106 Ill. 2d at 146.
However, the Bell defendants did sleep on their rights; therefore, the defendants could not cloak themselves in equity's armament.
Despite its decision to consider defendant's objection to forum, the court concluded that a waiver rule per se, specifically delineating a time within which a defendant may request that jurisdiction be declined for forum non conveniens, was unnecessary. Bell, 106 Ill. 2d at 146.