Is Filing Personal Injury Claim In Another County After Voluntarily Dismissing It From The County Where It Was Originally Filed Possible ?

In Czarnecki v. Uno-Ven Co., 339 Ill. App. 3d 504, 791 N.E.2d 164, 274 Ill. Dec. 368 (2003), the plaintiff filed a personal injury complaint against the defendants in Will County in 1996. Twenty days before the trial date, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his complaint. A year later, he refiled a 'Virtually identical" complaint in Cook County. No new defendants, allegations, or theories of liability were added. The defendants filed motions to transfer the case back to Will County pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The defendants cited discovery from the Will County action showing that the plaintiff was a resident of Will County; the accident occurred in Will County; the only occurrence witness cited by the plaintiff's interrogatory answers was a Will County resident; a person at the scene immediately before, at the time of, or immediately after the occurrence resided in Ogle County; and two of the plaintiffs treating doctors, his vocational counselor, and two defense-retained opinion witnesses were Cook County contacts. Nine other witnesses listed in the parties' discovery answers were dispersed among six Illinois counties and one Indiana county. The trial court denied the motion. On appeal, this court concluded that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion to transfer. This court found that the private interest factors favored the transfer of the case back to Will County, since the plaintiff was a Will County resident; the place of his injury was in Will County; and five potential witnesses, including the sole occurrence witness, were located in Will County. Czarnecki, 339 Ill. App. 3d at 510. "Moreover, plaintiffs action was originally filed in Will County and proceeded there for roughly four years. During that time, there is no evidence that plaintiff did not consider Will County to be a convenient and appropriate forum. Consequently, although we still treat plaintiffs decision to voluntarily dismiss and refile in Cook with some deference, that deference is accompanied by a countervailing skepticism, given the circumstances of this case." Czarnecki, 339 Ill. App. 3d at 511.