Filing a lawsuit can be stressful enough. It can be even more stressful if after filing that lawsuit, the opposing party decides to move the case to another county.
Venue is the location of the court where a lawsuit begins. There can often be many factors that go into where a lawsuit begins and where it ends up.
Recently in Ex parte Elliott (In re: Elliott v. Allstate insurance Company), a woman, Shaundalyn Elliott, filed a lawsuit against her insurer, Allstate, after she was injured in a car accident in Lowndes County. Elliott filed the motion in Lowndes County. Allstate, however, filed a motion to transfer the case to Montgomery County. The trial court agreed with Allstate and allowed the case to be transferred to Montgomery.
Elliott then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus, meaning that she wanted the Supreme Court to order the lower court to correct this transfer. The Court granted mandamus and then explained that in order for the transfer of counties to be proper, the “interest of justice” must be satisfied under Alabama law.
The interest of justice means that in order to transfer a matter from one county to another, the first county must have little, if any connection to the case and the second county must have a strong connection.
The Court pointed out that the car accident, Elliott’s injuries, and the police investigation all occurred in Lowndes County. On the other hand, Elliott lived in Montgomery County, Elliott was treated for her injuries in Montgomery County, Allstate does business in Montgomery County, and the insurance policy was issued in Montgomery County. Because Lowndes County’s connection to the case was not “little” or “weak” and Montgomery County was not significantly stronger, Allstate did not satisfy the “interest of justice” test. The appellate court held that the trial court was wrong to transfer the case to the Montgomery Circuit Court.
The main takeaway here is that because both counties had strong ties to the case, there was no reason to justify moving from Lowndes County, where Elliott had filed in the first place. The “interest of justice” case is important to know because it keeps you protected when you file a lawsuit in an appropriate venue.
If you are concerned about where to file a lawsuit or that an adverse party has filed a lawsuit in a county with no connection to your case, you should have an experienced, knowledgeable attorney on your side to make sure that you make the best arguments.
Contact INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 335-2640 for an attorney with the experience and knowledge that can make all the difference.