Forum Non Conveniens - Motor Vehicle Crash - Ex Parte Midsouth Paving, Inc.
Ex parte Midsouth Paving, Inc., [Ms. 1160504, Sept. 1, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2017). In this decision by Justice Parker, (Stuart, C.J., and Bolin, Shaw, Wise, and Bryan, JJ., concur, and Main and Sellers, JJ., concur in the result) the Court issues a petition for writ of mandamus finding that the circuit court of Hale County exceeded its discretion in refusing to transfer venue of this motor vehicle crash litigation to Tuscaloosa County where the crash occurred. The Court concluded that transfer to Tuscaloosa County was warranted under either or both the convenience or interest of justice prongs of § 6-3-21.1, Ala. Code 1975:
Tuscaloosa County has a strong connection to this case. Most significantly, the accident, which resulted in Vann’s death and injuries to Valorie, Tristan, and Ballinger, occurred in Tuscaloosa County. Vann’s body was transported to a morgue located in Tuscaloosa County. Valorie, Tristan, and Ballinger received medical care in Tuscaloosa County for injuries sustained in the accident. The parties have not directed this Court’s attention to any evidence indicating that Valorie, Tristan, or Ballinger received medical treatment in Hale County. The Northstar medical workers who transported Valorie, Tristan, and Ballinger from the scene of the accident to DCH Regional Medical Center all live and work in Tuscaloosa County. Northstar has its principal place of business in Tuscaloosa County. Although the officers who investigated the scene of the accident are employed by ALEA, a State agency, they are stationed at an ALEA post located in Tuscaloosa County. One of the investigating officers resides in Tuscaloosa County; the parties have not directed this Court’s attention to any evidence indicating that any of the investigating officers reside in Hale County. Although some of the defendants have conducted business in Hale County, that business is unrelated to the facts of this case. One of Midsouth’s managers over the Midsouth construction project that encompassed the scene of the accident resides in Tuscaloosa County and works in Tuscaloosa County daily.
Hale County has a weak connection to this case. Its only connections to this case are that the plaintiffs reside in Hale County and that some of the defendants have done business there unrelated to this case.
The Court rejected as without merit “plaintiffs’ argument that the defendant must demonstrate that the plaintiffs engaged in forum shopping and that litigation of this matter in the Hale Circuit Court would inappropriately or adversely affect the Hale Circuit Court’s legal or administrative process ....” Id. at 20.