Macon Circuit Court, CV-14-900034.
PETITION GRANTED; WRIT ISSUED.
For Petitioner: Darren W. Kies, Birmingham.
For Respondent: Stephanie Emens Balzli, Wettermark Keith, LLC, Birmingham.
Stuart, Bolin, Parker, Shaw, Main, and Bryan, JJ., concur. Moore, C.J., and Murdock, J., dissent.
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Linda Faye Manning, the defendant below, filed a petition for a writ of mandamus requesting that this Court direct the Macon Circuit Court to vacate its order denying her motion to transfer this action to the Montgomery Circuit Court and to enter an order granting the motion. We grant the petition and issue the writ.
Facts and Procedural History
On February 28, 2014, Shannon Richardson filed a complaint in the Macon Circuit Court against Manning, stating claims of negligence and wantonness as a result of a motorvehicle accident that occurred in Montgomery County on October 3, 2012. Richardson sustained injuries and was taken by ambulance to Baptist South Hospital in Montgomery after the accident. Law-enforcement personnel who responded to the accident worked in Montgomery County. At all material times, Richardson was a resident of Montgomery County, and Manning was a resident of Macon County.
On March 25, 2014, Manning filed a motion to transfer the action to Montgomery County based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens, as codified in § 6-3-21.1, Ala. Code 1975. On April 1, 2014, Richardson filed a response in opposition to the motion to transfer. On June 4, 2014, the trial court denied the motion to transfer. This petition followed.
Standard of Review
" A petition for a writ of mandamus is the appropriate 'method for obtaining review of a denial of a motion for a change of venue' pursuant to § 6-3-21.1.
Ex parte National Sec. Ins. Co., 727 So.2d 788, 789 (Ala. 1998). ...
" 'A party moving for a transfer under § 6-3-21.1 has the initial burden of showing, among other things, one of two factors: (1) that the transfer is justified based on the convenience of either the parties or the witnesses, or (2) that the transfer is justified " in the interest of justice." '
Ex parte Indiana Mills & Mfg., Inc., 10 So.3d 536, 539 (Ala. 2008). Although we review a ruling on a motion to transfer to determine whether the trial court exceeded its discretion in granting or denying the motion, id., where 'the convenience of the parties and witnesses or the interest of justice would be best served by a transfer, § 6-3-21.1, Ala. Code 1975, compels the trial court to transfer the action to the alternative forum.'
Ex parte First Tennessee Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 994 So.2d 906, 912 (Ala. 2008) (emphasis added)."
Ex parte Wachovia Bank, N.A., 77 So.3d 570, 573 (Ala. 2011).
Manning argues that the trial court exceeded its discretion in denying her motion to transfer the action from Macon County to Montgomery County. Specifically, she contends that Montgomery County has a strong connection to the case because all the material events that gave rise to Richardson's claims occurred there. In contrast, Manning asserts that Macon County has, at best, only a tenuous connection to the case -- namely, the fact that she resides there. After noting that the court deciding the transfer issue must consider " the ...