EX PARTE MERCEDES-BENZ U.S. INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. In re: Gregory Nix,
Writing Issued on Denial of Rehearing May 10, 2019.
Jefferson Circuit Court, CV-17-903525
T. McMeekin of Wainwright, Pope & McMeekin, P.C.,
Birmingham, for petitioner.
Maples and Paisley Newsome of Maples, Tucker & Jacobs,
LLC, Birmingham, for respondent.
Jeannie B. Walston of Starnes Davis Florie LLP, Birmingham,
for amicus curiae Drummond Company, Inc., in support of the
U.S. International, Inc. ("MBUSI"), petitions this
Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Jefferson Circuit
Court ("the trial court") to vacate its order
denying MBUSI's motion for a change of venue and to enter
an order transferring the underlying action to the Tuscaloosa
Circuit Court. We grant the petition and issue the writ.
Facts and Procedural History
is an automobile-manufacturing company that manufactures
certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles at its facility in Tuscaloosa
County. MBUSI's headquarters and its principal place of
business are also in Tuscaloosa County. Although MBUSI does
not maintain any corporate offices in Jefferson County, MBUSI
purchases parts used in manufacturing automobiles from
multiple suppliers located in Jefferson County, one of which
is Kamtek, Inc.
Nix is a resident of Jefferson County; he was employed as an
assembly worker at MBUSI's manufacturing facility in
Tuscaloosa County until June 23, 2017. Nix alleges that,
during his employment with MBUSI, he suffered on-the-job
injuries the cumulative effect of which have left him
permanently and totally disabled.
August 22, 2017, Nix sued MBUSI in the trial court seeking
worker's compensation benefits for the injuries he
allegedly suffered during his employment with MBUSI. MBUSI
filed a one-sentence answer, stating: "Venue is improper
in Jefferson County, Alabama." That same day, MBUSI
filed a motion to transfer the case to Tuscaloosa County
asserting that venue in Jefferson County was improper or, in
the alternative, that the doctrine of forum non
conveniens required the transfer of the case to
response to MBUSI's motion for a change of venue, Nix
asserted that venue was proper in Jefferson County under
§ 6-3-7(a)(2) and (3), Ala. Code 1975, and additionally
that a transfer of the case was not warranted under the
doctrine of forum non conveniens. Nix attached
various exhibits to his response, including two news articles
highlighting the expansion of Kamtek's facility. MBUSI
filed a supplemental motion
for a change of venue and attached in support an affidavit of
its general counsel, Richard Clementz.
trial court denied MBUSI's motion for a change of venue.
MBUSI filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Court
of Civil Appeals, which that court denied. Ex parte
Mercedes-Benz U.S. Int'l, Inc., 261 So.3d 1210
(Ala.Civ.App. 2018). The Court of Civil Appeals, relying on
Ex parte Scott Bridge Co., 834 So.2d 79 (Ala. 2002),
held that venue was proper in Jefferson County and that the
doctrine of forum non conveniens did not require a
transfer of the case to Tuscaloosa County. MBUSI then
petitioned this Court seeking the same relief.
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, 789 (Ala. 1998)).
petition, MBUSI reasserts the two arguments it made to the
trial court in its motion for a change of venue: (1) that
venue in Jefferson County is improper; and (2) that, even if
venue is proper in Jefferson County, the action should be
transferred to Tuscaloosa County under the doctrine of
forum non conveniens. Based on our resolution of the
first argument, we pretermit discussion of the forum non
§ 25-5-81(a)(1), Ala. Code 1975, a worker's
compensation action may be filed in "the circuit court
of the county which would have jurisdiction of a civil action
in tort between the parties." Venue for a civil action
against domestic and foreign ...