ALABAMA – Civil Procedure – Transfer of Venue

The Supreme Court of Alabama has reviewed the propriety of a transfer in a bad faith failure to defend case. In this case, Harrison borrowed a car from Hobson, and drove it with two of Hobson’s grandchildren in the car. While Harrison was operating the vehicle, he was involved in a wreck, in which one of Hobson’s grandchildren was killed. The estate of the deceased grandchild started and won a wrongful death action against Harrison, whereupon Harrison brought suit against the insurance company which issued the policy that covered the vehicle Harrison was driving at the time of the accident. Harrison argued that he was a permissive user of the vehicle over whom the policy should apply, and that the insurer acted in bad faith for failing to defend him in the grandchild’s wrongful death action.

Harrison’s action was pending in Perry County, and the insurer moved to have the action transferred to Shelby or Bibb County. The insurer argued that its investigation would have occurred in Shelby County, and otherwise in Illinois. Harrison responded that the accident took place in Perry County, and that the wrongful death case upon which his claim was based was also in Perry County. The lower court denied the insurer’s motion, which then petitioned for mandamus review of its transfer motion.

The Court reviewed Alabama’s venue requirements, which showed that venue was proper where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim took place, where the defendant’s principal place of business is located, where the plaintiff resides, and if none apply, in any county the defendant was doing business. The Court found that, even though the wrongful death action and the accident it was based on was in Perry County, such was not a basis of venue because of a distinction between the matter of location of injury and location of acts and omissions. Further, the Court noted that, once the insurer had given evidence that Shelby where it investigated on Bibb County where Harrison lived would have been proper venue, it became incumbent upon Harrison to present evidence for why Perry was an appropriate venue, and he offered no evidence past unsworn allegations. The Court then issued a writ of mandamus in favor of the insurer.

Ex parte Allstate Insurance Company, (November 8, 2019).


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