When someone is hurt by the negligence of a corporation, the injured person may have multiple options as to where to file his or her claim. Generally speaking, most such claims are filed in a state court in the county in which the accident occurred.
However, in some cases, the plaintiff may prefer that his or her claim be filed in federal court, providing that there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and that personal jurisdiction exists.
The defendant in a federal case may resist jurisdiction and/or venue for one reason or another. In such an event, the district court in which the action is initially filed must decide whether it does, in fact, have diversity jurisdiction over the case and whether venue is proper in that particular court.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in a recent federal case was a man who asserted causes of action for negligence and violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s regulations after sustaining an injury while performing industrial cleaning services at the defendant manufacturer’s facility in LaVergne, Tennessee. At the time of his injury, the plaintiff was employed by a third party, who had contracted with the defendant to perform cleaning work at the defendant’s premises.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit was initially filed in federal court in his home state of Ohio, based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. According to the plaintiff, venue was proper in Ohio because the defendant transacted business in that state and was subject to personal jurisdiction under the Ohio long-arm statute. The defendant sought a transfer of venue to the Middle District of Tennessee.
The Outcome of the Defendant’s Motion
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, granted the defendant’s motion to transfer venue to a federal district court in middle Tennessee. The court first noted that the accident in question happened in Tennessee and the plaintiff had been treated for his severe and devastating injuries at a hospital in Tennessee. The court then acknowledged the defendant’s argument that the plaintiff’s complaint was “completely devoid of facts linking the accident” to the venue in which the suit had been filed, as well as the plaintiff’s assertion that he, several of his potential witnesses, and some of his treating medical personnel were Ohio residents.
According to the court, the factor of convenience of the parties and witnesses did not weigh strongly in favor of a transfer of venue, but the factor of the interest of justice did weigh strongly towards a transfer, insomuch as the accident occurred in Tennessee and the majority of the likely witnesses were located in Tennessee. The court further acknowledged that, were the defendant’s motion to be denied, the federal district court sitting in Ohio would be required to apply Tennessee law to the case (a task best suited to a court in Tennessee, in the court’s opinion).
Overall, the court determined that a federal court in Tennessee would be the more appropriate venue for the action, thus granting the defendant’s motion. It is important to note that, despite being on the losing end of the motion to change venue, the plaintiff’s case will continue – just in a different location than that which he originally chose.
Contact an East Tennessee Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been hurt on someone else’s property, you may have a claim for negligence against the individual, business, or governmental entity that owned the property where the accident happened. To schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Knoxville premises liability lawyer, call the Hartsoe Law Firm at 865-524-5657 today and set up an appointment. Please do not delay in talking to a lawyer about your case, as the time in which to file a claim is strictly controlled by the statute of limitations and claims that are not filed within the time set by statute are almost always dismissed on procedural grounds.