Forum Non Conveniens - Interest of Justice - Location of Accident: Ex Parte Elliott
Ex parte Elliott, [Ms. 1160941, Dec. 22, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2017). This decision by Justice Main (Stuart, C.J., and Bolin, Parker, Wise, Bryan, and Sellers, JJ., concur; Shaw, J., concurs in the result; and Murdock, J., dissents) issues a writ of mandamus to the Lowndes Circuit Court directing the court to vacate its order transferring venue in this action to Montgomery County.
Elliott, a resident of Montgomery County, was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Lowndes County by a phantom motorist. She brought suit in Lowndes County against her UIM carrier Allstate. Ms. *2.
Citing the interest of justice prong of the forum non conveniens statute, § 6-3-21.1, Allstate argued that Lowndes County’s connection to the litigation was merely fortuitous and that Montgomery County had a much stronger connection because the uninsured motorists policy was delivered in Montgomery County to the plaintiff, a resident of Montgomery County. Ms. *10. The Lowndes Circuit Court agreed.
In reversing, the Court noted that Allstate had to show not only that Montgomery County has a strong connection to the action, it must also demonstrate that Lowndes County has a weak or little connection to the action. The Court explained
“Our forum non conveniens analysis has never involved a simple balancing test weighing each county’s connection to an action. Rather, to compel a change of venue under the ‘interest of justice’ prong of § 6-3-21, the county to which the transfer is sought must have a ‘strong’ nexus or connection to the lawsuit, while the county from which the transfer is sought must have a ‘weak’ or ‘little’ connection to the action. This inquiry necessarily depends on the facts of each case.”
Ms. *9-10, quoting J & W Enters., LLC, 150 So. 3d 190, 196 (Ala. 2014).