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Ex parte Elliott

Supreme Court of Alabama

December 22, 2017

Ex parte Shaundalyn N. Elliott
v.
Allstate Insurance Company In re: Shaundalyn N. Elliott

         Lowndes Circuit Court, CV-17-900017

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          MAIN, JUSTICE.

         Shaundalyn Elliott petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Lowndes Circuit Court to vacate its order transferring this case to the Montgomery Circuit Court. We grant the petition and issue the writ.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         On June 11, 2014, Elliott, a resident of Montgomery County, was injured in an automobile accident in the City of Hayneville in Lowndes County. On February 23, 2017, Elliott filed this lawsuit in the Lowndes Circuit Court against her automobile insurer, Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate"), seeking uninsured-motorist benefits related to the accident. Elliot alleged that the accident was caused by a "phantom driver, " whose location is unknown.

         On March 16, 2017, Allstate filed a motion to transfer the action from the Lowndes Circuit Court to the Montgomery Circuit Court. The motion stated:

"1. This is a breach of contract action wherein [Elliott] claims uninsured motorist insurance policy benefits against Allstate.
"2. [Elliott] is presently and was at the time of the motor vehicle accident in question a resident of Montgomery County, Alabama (see Complaint).
"3. Allstate is presently and was at the time of the incident in question a foreign corporation with [its] principal place of business in the State of Illinois.
"4. The Allstate insurance policy in question was entered into and issued to [Elliott] by Allstate in Montgomery County, Alabama. ...
"5. Upon information and belief, Allstate states that all medical treatment which [Elliott] claims is related to the accident in question occurred in Montgomery County, Alabama. Further, Allstate does business by agent in Montgomery County, Alabama.
"6. Additionally, pursuant to the provisions of § 6-3-21.1, [Ala. Code 1975, ] this action is due to be transferred to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Alabama, for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and/or in the interest of justice. The only nexus to Lowndes County, Alabama, is that the accident in question occurred in Lowndes County, Alabama."

         Attached to the motion was the affidavit of Suzanne Lowe, the insurance agent who issued the policy to Elliott. Lowe attested that the Allstate policy was issued to Elliott in Montgomery County.

         Elliott filed a response to the motion for a change of venue. In her response, Elliott argued that because the accident and her injuries occurred in Lowndes County, Lowndes County, which has a strong connection to the action, is a proper venue under § 6-3-7, Ala. Code 1975. She noted that the accident was investigated by a City of Hayneville police officer. Citing prior precedent of this Court, Elliott argued that there was a strong nexus between the action and Lowndes County so that transferring the action to Montgomery County pursuant to § 6-3-21.1, Ala. Code 1975, would be ...


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