Ex Parte RM Logistics, Inc.
RM Logistics, Inc. In re: Thomas M. Elliott
Circuit Court, CV-16-900366
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE
October 19, 2016, Thomas M. Elliott filed in the Walker
Circuit Court ("the trial court") a complaint
seeking an award of workers' compensation benefits from
his employer, RM Logistics, Inc. ("RM Logistics").
RM Logistics answered the complaint and denied liability.
26, 2017, RM Logistics filed in the trial court a motion to
dismiss Elliott's complaint or, in the alternative, to
transfer the action on the basis that it was filed in an
improper venue. The trial court initially scheduled a hearing
on that motion for August 2, 2017. However, the trial court
rescheduled that hearing several times between July 2017 and
January 2018. In February 2018, after the hearing on its
motion had been rescheduled for the fourth time, RM Logistics
filed in the trial court a motion asking that the hearing be
conducted at the earliest possible date. On June 1, 2018, the
trial court scheduled a hearing for September 5, 2018, but on
July 20, 2018, it entered another order continuing that
hearing until October 3, 2018. On October 1, 2018, the trial
court entered an order that postponed the hearing on RM
Logistics' June 26, 2017, motion for a sixth time. In its
October 1, 2018, order, the trial court did not set a
specific date for a hearing on RM Logistics' June 26,
November 9, 2018, RM Logistics filed in this court a petition
for a writ of mandamus asking this court to either order the
trial court to dismiss Elliott's workers'
compensation claim or order the trial court to transfer the
action to the Shelby Circuit Court, which, RM Logistics
contends, is the appropriate venue for Elliott's
workers' compensation action. Neither Elliott nor the
trial court has filed an answer to the petition for a writ of
"'"'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.
parte Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., [Ms. 1171081,
Nov. 16, 2018] ___So. 3d ____, ____ (Ala. 2018).
brief filed in this court, RM Logistics acknowledges that the
trial court has not ruled on its June 26, 2017, motion to
dismiss or to transfer. Thus, there is no adverse ruling upon
which RM Logistics can base that part of its petition for a
writ of mandamus in which it argues that the trial court
erred in denying its motion.
"This Court has never issued a writ of mandamus
directing a trial court to transfer a case where the trial
court has not yet ruled on a motion for a change of venue.
Generally, the writ of mandamus will not issue to compel a
trial court to exercise its discretion in a particular
manner. Ex parte Ford Motor Credit Co., 607 So.2d
169, 170 (Ala. 1992)."
Ex parte Monsanto Co., 794 So.2d 350, 353-54 (Ala.
2001). See also Ex parte Veteto, 230 So.3d 401, 403
(Ala. Civ. App. 2017) ("[T]here are no adverse rulings
for this court to consider at this time. Moreover, it is the
duty of this court to review the propriety of orders and
judgments made in the trial court; this court cannot issue
rulings on the motions pending before the trial
RM Logistics points out that its June 26, 2017, motion to
dismiss or transfer has been pending in the trial court for
well over one year. RM Logistics argues that the delay in
ruling on its motion has precluded it from moving forward in
defending the workers' compensation action. Recently, our
supreme court considered a case in which the trial court had
decided to consider a motion to transfer on the basis of
improper venue at a pretrial hearing scheduled less than
three weeks before the scheduled hearing on the merits of the
litigation. Ex parte Nationwide Agribusiness Ins.
Co., supra. The defendants in that case, Nationwide
Agribusiness Insurance Co. and The Hartford Steam Boiler
Inspection and Insurance Co. (hereinafter referred to
collectively as "the insurers") had argued
"that the delay in hearing their motion would
effectively require them to complete discovery, file
dispositive and pretrial motions, conduct mediation, and
prepare for trial, all before their change-of-venue motion
was heard." ___So. 3d at ___. After the trial court
declined to rule on the insurers' motion to transfer, the
insurers petitioned for a writ of mandamus, and our supreme
court granted the petition. That court held that, generally,
a trial court should not wait until a pretrial hearing or
other later part of litigation to rule on a motion to
transfer based on improper venue. Ex parte Nationwide
Agribusiness Ins. Co., ___So. 3d at ___. In reaching its
holding, the supreme court explained that "[v]enue is a
threshold matter, and, 'as a general rule, a trial court
should rule on a motion alleging improper venue as
expeditiously as possible.'" Ex parte Nationwide
Agribusiness Ins. Co., ____So. 3d at ___(quoting Ex
parte Windom, 776 So.2d 799, 803 (Ala. 2000)).
Similarly, in Ex parte International Paper Co., [Ms.
1170458, April 27, 2018] ____So. 3d____ (Ala. 2018), the
trial court ordered the parties to conduct discovery and to
prepare for trial, and it ruled that it would consider a
motion to transfer based on improper venue only a few weeks
before the scheduled trial on the merits. Our supreme court
granted the defendant's petition for a writ of mandamus
and directed the trial court to rule on the pending motion to
transfer before the litigation proceeded. Ex parte
International Paper Co., supra.
this case, the motion to dismiss or to transfer on the basis
of improper venue has been pending since June 26, 2017, i.e.,
for well over a year. The trial court has continued the
hearing on that motion six times, and in its most recent
order postponing consideration of the motion it did not
reschedule the hearing on the motion. Given the facts of this
case and the length of time the motion has been pending, we
conclude that RM Logistics is entitled to relief; we,
therefore, grant its petition for a writ of ...