Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ex parte Midsouth Paving, Inc.

Supreme Court of Alabama

September 1, 2017

Ex parte Midsouth Paving, Inc.
v.
Rennie D. Jackson et al. In re: Barbara M. Hodge, as administratrix of the Estate of atie-Elizabeth Hope Vann, and Sue Davis, as parent and next friend of Valorie Eicher, a minor, Tristan Eicher, a minor, and Cody Ballinger, a minor Ex parte Rennie D. Jackson In re: Barbara M. Hodge, as administratrix of the Estate of Katie-Elizabeth Hope Vann, and Sue Davis, as parent and next friend of Valorie Eicher, a minor, Tristan Eicher, a minor, and Cody Ballinger, a minor
v.
Rennie D. Jackson et al. Ex parte United Services Automobile Association In re: Barbara M. Hodge, as administratrix of the Estate of Katie-Elizabeth Hope Vann, and Sue Davis, as parent and next friend of Valorie Eicher, a minor, Tristan icher, a minor, and Cody Ballinger, a minor
v.
Rennie D. Jackson et al. Ex parte Schaeffler Group USA, Inc., and Gelco Corporation In re: Barbara M. Hodge, as administratrix of the Estate of Katie-Elizabeth Hope Vann, and Sue Davis, as parent and next friend of Valorie Eicher, a minor, Tristan Eicher, a minor, and Cody Ballinger, a minor
v.
Rennie D. Jackson et al.

         Hale Circuit Court, CV-16-900034

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          PARKER, Justice.

         Midsouth Paving, Inc. ("Midsouth"), Rennie D. Jackson, United Services Automobile Association ("USAA"), and Schaeffler Group USA, Inc. ("Schaeffler"), and Gelco Corporation ("Gelco") (hereinafter collectively referred to as "the defendants") separately petition this Court for writs of mandamus directing the Hale Circuit Court to vacate its order denying the defendants' motions for a change of venue and to enter an order transferring the action filed against the defendants by Barbara M. Hodge, as the administratrix of the estate of Katie-Elizabeth Hope Vann, and Sue Davis, as parent and next friend of Valorie Eicher, a minor, Tristan Eicher, a minor, and Cody Ballinger, a minor (hereinafter collectively referred to as "the plaintiffs"), to the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court. We grant the petitions and issue the writs.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On December 6, 2015, Valorie Eicher, a resident of Hale County, was driving a vehicle north on Interstate 59 through Tuscaloosa County. Katie-Elizabeth Hope Vann, Tristan Eicher, and Cody Ballinger, all also residents of Hale County, were passengers in the vehicle Valorie was driving. Jackson, an employee of Schaeffler and a resident of Tuscaloosa County, was also driving a vehicle, owned by Gelco, north on Interstate 59 in the lane next to the vehicle being driven by Valorie. Jackson made an improper lane change, which forced Valorie to drive her vehicle partially off the interstate. Valorie lost control of her vehicle as she attempted to drive the vehicle back onto the interstate. Ultimately, the vehicle Valorie was driving overturned and rolled approximately two and one-half times, ejecting all the occupants from the vehicle. All the occupants in the vehicle driven by Valorie sustained injuries; Vann died at the scene of the accident as a result of the injuries she incurred. Deandra Bland, a Mississippi resident, witnessed the accident.

         Valorie, Tristan, and Ballinger were transported from the scene of the accident to DCH Regional Medical Center, which is located in Tuscaloosa County, by Northstar EMS, Inc. ("Northstar"), which has its principal place of business in Tuscaloosa County. Bradley Bible, Susan Gault, and Tyler Kelley, employees of Northstar, responded to the scene of the accident and helped in transporting Valorie, Tristan, and Ballinger to DCH Regional Medical Center; all live and work in Tuscaloosa County. Vann's body was transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences' morgue, which is located in Tuscaloosa County.

         Orlander Marbury and Jason Vice, Alabama State Troopers employed by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency ("ALEA"), were two of the officers who investigated the accident. Vice's affidavit testimony indicates that he lives in Tuscaloosa County. Marbury's and Vice's affidavits state that "[a]ll of the State Troopers that investigated this accident are based out of the ALEA Post located in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama." Jamaine Isaac, a supervisor at the Tuscaloosa County ALEA post, indicated in his affidavit testimony that the State Troopers stationed at the Tuscaloosa County ALEA post "are assigned to cover and investigate incidents and accidents in several counties." The parties have not directed this Court's attention to any evidence indicating that the State Troopers stationed at the Tuscaloosa County ALEA post do any work in Hale County.

         At the time of the accident, Midsouth was performing construction work in an area on Interstate 59 in Tuscaloosa County that encompassed the scene of the accident. Michael Patterson and Bret Thornton are employed by Midsouth; they were the managers of the Midsouth construction project in Tuscaloosa County. Patterson resides in Tuscaloosa County. Patterson's and Thornton's affidavits state that "[a]ll physical evidence [they are] aware of relating to this accident is located in Tuscaloosa County."

         Midsouth, USAA, and Schaeffler also conducted business in Hale County unrelated to the work Midsouth was conducting in Tuscaloosa County at the scene of the accident.

         On May 15, 2016, the plaintiffs sued the defendants in the Hale Circuit Court. Subsequently, all the defendants filed motions for a change of venue, arguing that the doctrine of forum non conveniens necessitated the transfer of the case from the Hale Circuit Court to the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court. On September 20, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a response to the defendants' motions for a change of venue.

         On February 22, 2017, the Hale Circuit Court entered the following order denying the defendants' motions for a change of venue:

"This matter comes before the court on the various motions to transfer this case from the Circuit Court of Hale County, Alabama, to the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. No party has raised or challenged the propriety of venue in Hale County, and the court finds that Hale County, Alabama, is a proper venue for this case. The only issue raised for consideration within the pending motions is a transfer of venue pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens.
"The ... defendants filed separate motions to transfer venue on forum non conveniens grounds, and the plaintiffs filed a consolidated response to those motions on September 20, 2016. Defendant Mid-South Paving filed a motion to strike addressing various evidentiary submissions filed with the plaintiffs' response brief. The plaintiffs were granted leave to respond to the motion to strike and filed their response and accompanying submissions on January 31, 2017. Upon consideration of those written submissions, as well as the oral arguments made to the court on the motions to transfer, the court finds that the defendants did not establish that Tuscaloosa County is significantly more convenient than Hale County for the litigation of this case, nor have the defendants established that the interests of justice warrant a transfer to Tuscaloosa County. Accordingly, the court hereby DENIES the defendants' motions to transfer this matter to Tuscaloosa County on the grounds of forum non conveniens."

(Capitalization in orignal.)

         Standard of Review

"'The proper method for obtaining review of a denial of a motion for a change of venue in a civil action is to petition for the writ of mandamus. Lawler Mobile Homes, Inc. v. Tarver, 492 So.2d 297, 302 (Ala. 1986). "Mandamus is a drastic and extraordinary writ, to be issued only where there is (1) a clear legal right in the petitioner to the order sought; (2) an imperative duty upon the respondent to perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so; (3) the lack of another adequate remedy; and (4) properly invoked jurisdiction of the court." Ex parte Integon Corp., 672 So.2d 497, 499 (Ala. 1995). "When we consider a mandamus petition relating to a venue ruling, our scope of review is to determine if the trial court [exceeded] its discretion, i.e., whether it exercised its discretion in an arbitrary and capricious manner." Id. Our review is further limited to those facts that were before the trial court. Ex parte American Resources Ins. Co., 663 So.2d 932, 936 (Ala. 1995).'"

Ex parte Southeast Alabama Timber Harvesting, LLC, 94 So.3d 371, 373 (Ala. 2012) (quoting Ex parte National Sec. Ins. Co., 727 So.2d 788');">727 So.2d 788');">727 So.2d 788');">727 So.2d 788, 789 (Ala. 1998)).

         Discussion

         The defendants argue that the Hale Circuit Court exceeded its discretion in denying their motions for a change of venue. The defendants argue that the action should be transferred to the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court under Alabama's foru ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.