In order for a court to hear a case, they must have jurisdiction over that case. Sometimes there may be multiple courts that could potentially hear a given case. One situation that comes up is that a plaintiff will bring a case in a court that is inconvenient for the defendant. When that happens a defendant may ask for the case to be moved to a more convenient court by requesting a change of venue. The court will look at the facts and circumstances of the case as well as a number of other factors to determine whether they will grant the venue change. The case here illustrates this point and gives an example of a situation where the change of venue was granted.
The instant case comes out of a slip and fall in a Florida hotel. The plaintiff was at the hotel and fell injuring her right leg badly enough to require surgery. She was a resident of New Jersey and the defendant hotel corporation is incorporated in South Carolina and has a principle place of business in Florida. There is a complete diversity of citizenship between the parties, meaning that all the parties are from different states. As the claim is also asking for more than $75,000 the parties meet the requirements for federal diversity jurisdiction meaning that the case can be heard in federal court. That is not the end of the inquiry though. There are federal courts all over the country. Which one should the case be heard in?
The specific state where the case should be located is called the “venue.” The plaintiff in this case originally filed the suit in the federal court in New Jersey. The defendant then asked for it to be moved to Florida. While both are permissible places for the case to be heard, the court will look at specific factors to determine whether they should grant the defendant’s petition.
Factors Considered for Change of Venue
Federal law allows a transfer of venue when it is in the interests of justice, generally because it will be more convenient for parties and witnesses. There is no specific determinative factor, but rather the court will look at a number of different categories to decide whether to grant the petition. Specifically, the court will look at the parties’ forum preferences, where the claim arose, and the convenience of the parties and witnesses. The court will also look at public factors including where the judgment can be best enforced, the administrative difficulty of moving the case, practical considerations, local interest in deciding controversies at home, familiarity of the judge with applicable state law, and public policies.
Here, almost all of the factors were neutral or weighed in favor of the defendant. This is primarily because the accident happened in Florida. Though the plaintiff chose and presumably prefers New Jersey, all things considered moving the case to Florida makes the most sense. Therefore, the court granted the defendant’s petition and the case was moved to Florida.
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If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident – even if it was in another state – your first call should be to the experienced South Florida personal injury attorneys at Donaldson & Weston. They can help you to get the damages that you deserve. Contact us by using the contact form on this website or call us at 772-266-555 or 561-299-3999 for a free and confidential consultation today!
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