Earlier this month, a Mississippi appellate court dismissed a negligence action against an Alabama university, based on the fact that the case was filed in an inappropriate jurisdiction, and the court did not have the authority to transfer the case to a more appropriate court. In the case, Ramsey v. Auburn University, the plaintiff was a college student who was injured while working out in preparation to join the University’s football team.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a high school student when he applied to attend Auburn University to play football. He was accepted and offered a scholarship. After his acceptance, the coaching staff at the University sent the plaintiff a workout plan in order to get him into shape for the upcoming season. The next year, the plaintiff moved out to Alabama to attend Auburn University.
During orientation, the plaintiff’s father told the coaching staff that his son was prone to back injuries, and not to make him do “power cleans,” a very specific type of workout. However, during his training, the coaching staff recommended that the plaintiff do “power cleans” as part of his regimen. The plaintiff complied. That year, the plaintiff experienced lingering back pain. Eventually, the condition worsened, and he was unable to play football for the University.
In 2011, the plaintiff sued the University under a theory of negligence. That lawsuit was dismissed. Later that year, the plaintiff filed another lawsuit against the University, but this time in Mississippi. In this case, he alleged “negligence, wantonness, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
The University sought the dismissal of the personal injury case, based on the fact that it was the wrong forum. Generally speaking, a plaintiff has their choice of forum, but that is subject to some limitations. When a forum is exceptionally inconvenient to a defendant, the defendant may be able to ask the court to dismiss the case based on that fact. Normally, the plaintiff could either have the case transferred or refile the case in another jurisdiction.
Here, the court determined that the case was indeed filed in the wrong forum and that it could not be transferred because the proper forum was another state’s court. In order to be an appropriate venue, there must be some tie to that particular place. This may be due to a “substantial act” made by the defendant in the venue, or it could be that one of the parties resides in the venue. However, here, the court determined that neither was the case. The injury occurred in Alabama when the plaintiff was living in Alabama. While the plaintiff first made contact with the University in Mississippi, that alone was not enough to make venue proper.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland or Washington, D.C. Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland or Washington, D.C. accident, you may be entitled to compensation. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are many procedural hurdles that may be thrown in your way by the defense, including ones like those mentioned above. While filing a case in an improper venue will not normally prevent a plaintiff from refiling, it can waste considerable time and expense. Thus, it is important to consult with a dedicated personal injury attorney about your case as soon as possible to ensure the case is filed properly. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland and Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Medical Malpractice Case Dismissed for Failure to Comply with Medical Expert Requirements, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 15, 2016.
Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $72 Million Award Based on Product Liability Lawsuit over Talcum Powder, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 1, 2016.