Contested Venue

February 18, 2020 § 1 Comment

Plaintiff files suit in county A. Defendant files a motion to transfer the suit to county B, claiming that venue is improper in county A. When the matter comes before the court for hearing, plaintiff offers her affidavit saying merely that venue is proper in A, without more. Defendant responds with a detailed affidavit. What law is the court to follow? How do we resolve the issue?

In Weir v. Mayze and Sago, an MSSC case decided January 16, 2020, Justice Ishee authored a succinct statement of the law:

¶6. At issue here is the trial court’s fact determination regarding the location of the accident. This Court has stated that the plaintiff’s choice of venue must be given the benefit of reasonable doubt and “must be sustained unless in the end there is no credible evidence supporting the factual basis for the claim of venue.” Flight Line, Inc. v. Tanksley, 608 So. 2d 1149, 1155 (Miss. 1992); see also Earwood v. Reeves, 798 So. 2d 508, 513 (Miss. 2001); Pisharodi v. Golden Triangle Reg’l Med. Ctr., 735 So. 2d 353, 354 (Miss. 1999). “[C]ourts begin with the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint,” which may be “supplemented—and contested—by affidavits or other evidence in cognizable form.” Tanksley, 608 So. 2d at 1155; see also Park on Lakeland Drive, Inc. v. Spence, 941 So. 2d 203, 207 (Miss. 2006). But if the “plaintiff wishes to defeat a motion to transfer venue, it follows that he or she should be prepared to present some credible evidence supporting his or her choice of forum.” Wilkerson v. Goss, 113 So. 3d 544, 557 (Miss. 2013).

This case involved a suit in county court, and the applicable venue statute was MCA 11-11-3, which is the circuit court statute. I see no reason why the rationale of the case law cited should not apply equally in chancery.

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§ One Response to Contested Venue

  • Owen Holmes, IV says:

    Just tossing this out there, but this case seems like a case of forum shopping combined with objective evidence that the case was filed in the wrong jurisdiction. It isn’t really a case of a failure to supply any credible evidence supporting Hinds as the alleged proper venue, it is a case of the most-credible and objective evidence (the police report) supporting – even mandating – another venue. Seemingly the only thing in this case that makes it even remotely debatable is the alleged proximity to the Hinds-Madison county line.

    As to chancery, one can allege that Jackson is in Lauderdale County, but I’d feel confident in stating categorically that you wouldn’t fall for it (and would not need any case law or maps).

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