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VENUE - EX PARTE WALTMAN

Ex parte Waltman, [Ms. 1111598, Jan. 11, 2013] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2013). The Supreme Court grants mandamus, requiring the Circuit Court of Perry County to grant a motion to transfer venue to Tuscaloosa County based on the "interest of justice" prong of the forum non conveniens statute. Plaintiff John Owens, a resident of Hale County, was driving an empty log truck in Tuscaloosa County. James Waltman was towing a utility trailer that disconnected from his vehicle and struck Owens's truck, injuring Owens. Owens sued in Perry County, the principal place of business of his employer, Griffin Wood Company, Inc. The Perry Circuit Court severed Owens's workmen's compensation claim from his tort claim. Owens's argument for a substantial connection with Perry County was that "the citizens of Perry County have a strong interest in the affairs of one of its resident corporations and the determination of workers' compensation benefits owed to its employees," and that his employer would have a subrogation claim based on its payment of workers' compensation benefits. The contacts with Tuscaloosa County included that Waltman was a resident there, the accident happened there, and a company in Tuscaloosa County had attached the hitch on the tongue of the utility trailer to Waltman's vehicle the morning of the accident. The Supreme Court held that the Perry Circuit Court exceeded its discretion in denying the motion to change venue based on forum non conveniens.
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