COA agrees lawsuit may continue in Indiana under Journey’s Account Statute


Jennifer Nelson for

Although a plaintiff in a lawsuit stemming from a car accident in Indiana used bad judgment when he filed the suit in federal court in Illinois, where he lives, there was no error by a Tippecanoe County court to allow the lawsuit to later proceed when filed there based on the Journey’s Account Statute, ruled the Court of Appeals.

Jerome Woroszylo sued Lafayette, Indiana, resident Israel Munoz for damages in November 2013 in federal court in Illinois after the two were involved in a car accident in Indiana on Nov. 29, 2011. Munoz filed a motion to dismiss, which the federal court granted in April 2014, based on lack of personal jurisdiction over Munoz. The case was dismissed instead of transferred to federal court in Indiana, and Woroszylo then filed a complaint two weeks later in Tippecanoe County against Munoz.

Munoz sought to also dismiss the state court action because it wasn’t filed under the two-year statute of limitations applicable to personal injury claims. The trial court denied the motion based on the Journey’s Account Statute.

On interlocutory appeal in Israel Munoz v. Jerome Woroszylo, 79A02-1409-CT-679, Munoz argued the circumstances of the dismissal of the complaint in Woroszylo’s action in federal court amounted to negligence under the terms of the Journey’s Account Statute, so that statute did not operate to save his claim from dismissal in Indiana.

When dismissing the case, the Illinois judge called Woroszylo’s decision to file in Illinois – where he and his treating physicians reside – an “elementary mistake and ill-advised strategy.” But there’s no evidence Woroszylo filed the lawsuit in Illinois with intent to abuse judicial process or create undue delay, Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote.

“Woroszylo’s decision to file suit in the Northern District of Indiana was bad judgment. Bad judgment is not, however, bad faith,” he wrote. “Indeed, we note that while the federal court had discretionary authority to decline Woroszylo’s request that his case be transferred into the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, if Woroszylo had brought suit in an improper venue in an Indiana state court, transfer to an Indiana court with proper venue would have been mandatory under Indiana’s venue rules. This reflects Indiana courts’ general preference for deciding cases on their merits and for avoiding the construction of procedural obstacles to the presentation of such cases. Indeed, the very same policy is served by the Journey’s Account Statute.”