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Where To File Your Lawsuit

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Where To File Your Lawsuit

Where a lawsuit is filed matters. Here's why.

Venue: Where to File Your Lawsuit

Venue means place.  In legal cases, venue means the county or place where the action will be brought and litigated. Often, parties have a choice of venue.

In most cases, a defendant has a right to be sued in the county In which he or she resides.  (ARS section 12-401). However, if an out of county person causes an event to occur in another County, the action may be brought in the County of the occurrence if the plaintiff and the providers all live and work in the occurrence County.  The question then becomes, is the defendant’s right to be sued in his or her “home” county outweighed by the inconvenience put on the plaintiff and the other witnesses to have to travel out of county for trial?  Most of the time the defendant wins that battle, and the case is maintained in the County of the Defendant’s residence.

Corporations can be sued in any county they do business in.  Generally, the venue of choice is the county the event occurred in, but not always.  Plaintiff’s usually choose the convenient county (also referred to as the forum).

As with most rules of law, there are exceptions.  The exceptions can give rise to “venue shopping” or “forum shopping.”  Exception 7 to the venue statute states that if there are multiple defendants residing in multiple counties, the action may be brought in any of the defendant “home” counties.  For instance: Sam is an employee of ABC trucking.  He causes a wreck in Maricopa County.  Sam lives in Mohave County, but ABC does business in Pima County.   The injured person lives in Pima County.  There are 3 choices here: Mohave where Sam lives, Pima, where ABC trucking is headquartered, or Maricopa where the accident occurred.  Mohave is the last choice.  Plaintiff’s lawyer from Pima county is not going to want to go to Kingman to try a case.  Maricopa is a poor choice.  The only connection Maricopa County has is the site of the accident.  None of the parties have any connection with Maricopa County. ABC does business in Pima County, and the Plaintiff resides in Pima County.  Pima County is the logical choice.

Sam could file a motion for “change of venue” but it will be declined as exception 7 clearly states that the action may be brought in the county where any of the defendants reside.  ABC will be a defendant.  ABC will not want to go to Mohave County, so the motion to change venue will be denied.

All actions against the State of Arizona have to be brought in Maricopa County as that is the “home” County for the State.  All actions against a County have to be brought in the County being sued as that is the “home” County.

Confusing?  There are 19 exceptions to the venue rule.  There are 9 different venue statutes.  Choosing the wrong County is not fatal to the case, but it will slow things down until the venue question is answered by the Court.

The Rockafellow Law Firm always chooses the “Venue” or “Forum” of convenience.  Sometimes it is challenged.  Most of the time it is not.  When challenged, the Motion for Change of Venue is rarely granted if one of the exceptions can be found to apply.

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