Jefferson Circuit Court, CV-19-902041
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Burgess petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing
the Jefferson Circuit Court to vacate its order transferring
the underlying action to the Shelby Circuit Court. We grant
the petition and issue the writ.
and Procedural History
April 22, 2019, a vehicle driven by Burgess collided with a
vehicle driven by Jonathan Aaron Stephens; the accident
occurred in Shelby County. Burgess sued Stephens and Patti
Mollica in the Jefferson Circuit Court, alleging as to
Stephens negligence and wantonness and as to Mollica
negligent entrustment of her vehicle to Stephens and seeking
damages for her accident-related injuries. Burgess, Stephens,
and Mollica are all Jefferson County residents.
Friday, July 26, 2019, Stephens and Mollica (hereinafter
referred to collectively as "the defendants") filed
a joint motion for a change of venue under Alabama's
forum non conveniens statute, § 6-3-21.1, Ala.
Code 1975, requesting that the action be transferred to
Shelby County in the interest of justice.
Monday, July 29, 2019, the Jefferson Circuit Court entered an
order transferring the case to the Shelby Circuit Court. On
Wednesday, July 31, 2019, Burgess moved the Jefferson Circuit
Court to set aside its transfer order and to set the matter
for a hearing so she could respond to the defendants'
motion for a change of venue. The Jefferson Circuit Court set
the matter for a hearing on August 22, 2019; however, the case
had been docketed in the Shelby Circuit Court on August 5,
2019, divesting the Jefferson Circuit Court of jurisdiction.
Burgess timely filed the instant petition asking this Court
to direct the Jefferson Circuit Court to vacate its order
transferring the case to the Shelby Circuit
"The proper method for obtaining review of a denial [or
grant] 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 National Sec. Ins. Co., 727 So.2d 788, 789
argues that the Jefferson Circuit Court exceeded its
discretion in transferring the underlying action to the
Shelby Circuit Court under the interest-of-justice prong of
§ 6-3-21.1(a). Section 6-3-21.1(a) provides:
"With respect to civil actions filed in an appropriate
venue, any court of general jurisdiction shall, for the
convenience of parties and witnesses, or in the interest of
justice, transfer any civil action or any claim in any civil
action to any court of general jurisdiction in which the
action might have been properly filed and the case shall
proceed as though originally filed therein."
undisputed that Jefferson County and Shelby County are both
proper venues for the underlying action. See 6-3-2(a)(3),
Ala. Code 1975. "When venue is appropriate in more than
one county, the plaintiff's choice of venue is generally
given great deference." Ex parte Perfection Siding,
Inc., 882 So.2d 307, 312 (Ala. 2003). Thus, this Court
must determine whether the interest of justice overrides the
deference due Burgess's choice of ...