Cases Pending Highlights Civil Cases in Illinois Supreme Court's March Term

March 02, 2020 11:36 AM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)
The Illinois Supreme Court’s  March Term begins Tuesday, March 10, 2020.  Oral arguments are scheduled for March 10, 11, 17 and 18, 2020. A total of 11 cases will be heard – 6 criminal and 5 civil. The following civil cases are scheduled for argument this Term:

March 17, 2020

Tabirta v. Cummings, No.  124798

The City of Chicago v. Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge No. 7, No. 124831

Sharpe v. Westmoreland, No. 124863

March 18, 2020

Hamby v. Bayer Corp. and Rios v. Bayer Corp., Nos. 125020, 125021 (cons.)

Williamson County Board of Commissioners v. Board of Trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, No. 125330

Below is a summary for two of these cases, Hamby v. Bayer Corp. and Rios v. Bayer Corp.  Summaries for these cases and others pending in the Illinois Supreme Court can be found in our Cases Pending publication, accessible to ALA members on the ALA’s website.

Hamby v. Bayer Corp. and Rios v. Bayer Corp., Nos. 125020, 125021 (cons.)

The issue in these consolidated cases is whether, under Bristol Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017), courts should focus on the actions of the plaintiffs or the defendants’ connections to the forum state when determining whether to exercise specific jurisdiction over nonresident defendants.

These class action claims were filed by plaintiffs, most of whom are nonresidents of Illinois, against Defendant Bayer Corporation (“Bayer”) for injuries caused by Essure, a permanent contraceptive device manufactured by Bayer. Bayer, relying on Bristol Myers Squibb, moved to dismiss the claims brought by the nonresident plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that Illinois lacked both general and specific jurisdiction over it because the plaintiffs were not citizens of Illinois and they did not undergo the Essure procedure in Illinois.  The circuit court denied Bayer’s motions to dismiss, finding that the nonresident plaintiffs’ claims “directly arose from or [were] related to” Bayer’s purposeful activities in Illinois and that it would not be unreasonable to require Bayer to litigate in Illinois.  Bayer appealed under Supreme Court Rule 306(a)(3).

The Illinois Appellate Court, Fifth District, affirmed, holding that in order for a state court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant, the suit must arise out of, or relate to, defendant’s contact with the forum.  The court held that the proper focus was not on the actions of the plaintiffs, but on Bayer’s conduct that occurred in Illinois and whether the causes of action in the complaint arose from or were connected to its conduct in Illinois.  The appellate court held that Bayer purposefully availed itself of Illinois when it directly targeted and marketed in Illinois, conducted clinical trials in Illinois, contracted with Illinois physicians and facilities, and established a physician accreditation program in Illinois, notwithstanding whether the plaintiffs themselves were injured in Illinois, visited doctors in Illinois, or had the device implanted in Illinois. The court further held that the plaintiffs made a prima facie showing that exercising specific personal jurisdiction in this case is appropriate, Bayer failed to rebut that showing, and litigating in Illinois would not be unreasonable.

In their petitions for leave to appeal, Bayer argues, in part, that the appellate court’s decision conflicts with Bristol-Myers Squibb, which held that a state court cannot exercise specific personal jurisdiction over the claims of an out-of-state plaintiff against an out-of-state defendant when “the conduct giving rise to the nonresidents’ claims occurred elsewhere.”

Appellate Court Decision:  2019 IL App (5th) 180279-U; 2019 IL App (5th) 180278-U.  Welch, J., with Overstreet, P.J., and Moore, J., concurring.


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