Venue - Ex Parte Tyson Chicken, Inc.


In Ex parte Tyson Chicken, Inc., [Ms. 1090866, Apr. 15, 2011] __ So. 3d __(Ala. 2011), the Alabama Supreme Court analyzed whether venue in a worker's compensation case was proper in Etowah County. Plaintiff Anna Guyton, a resident of Etowah County, was injured on the job while working at the Tyson production facility in Marshall County. It was undisputed that Tyson's principal place of business was in Calhoun County. There was no dispute that venue would have been proper in Marshall County or Calhoun County. However, the plaintiff filed her worker's compensation claim in Etowah County, arguing that it was the county of her residence and that Tyson did business by agent in that county. See Ala. Code ¤ 6-3-7-(a)(3)("All civil actions against corporations may be brought in any of the following counties: . . .(3) In the county in which the plaintiff resided. . .at the time of the accrual of the cause of action, if such corporation does business by agent in the county of the plaintiff's residence") (emphasis added). The plaintiff argued that "placing a product into the intrastate stream of commerce, hiring employees who reside in Etowah County, and having an agent for service of process in the State are sufficient to meet the statutory requirement" mentioned above. The Court disagreed, stating that it would not expand venue to make it proper in any county in which a court has personal jurisdiction. The Court held that hiring employees in one county does not constitute "doing business" in that county for purposes of the venue statute, noting that "venue is dependent on the decisions of the defendant corporation, not on the personal choices of its employees independent of their employment." Finally, the Court also refused to make venue proper in any county where a corporation had an agent for service of process, stating that such a decision would make venue against a corporation appropriate in every county and would render the venue statute meaningless. The Court held that venue in Etowah County was improper.


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