North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Ruling Based on Venue-Related Forum Non Conveniens Doctrine

Motor vehicle accidents of any kind are a difficult experience for the victim and his or her family, but they are particularly horrendous when the victim loses his or her life as a result of the crash. Our dedicated team of North Carolina wrongful death car crash attorneys has assisted numerous families with understanding their legal rights following the sudden and painful loss of a loved one.

A recent North Carolina appellate court opinion discusses a wrongful death case involving a motorcyclist. In the action, the administrator of the decedent’s estate filed a negligence action against the at-fault driver alleging that his negligence caused the decedent’s death.

The accident occurred when a commercial truck collided with a motorcycle. Both drivers were residents of Kane County. The crash took place roughly one mile from the county line with Cook County. Paramedics from Kane County treated the motorcyclist, who was dead at the time he arrived at the hospital. The Kane County coroner performed an autopsy. Four of the five witnesses to the accident resided in Kane County. The Kane County sheriff’s department investigated the accident.

After the action was commenced, the defendant filed a motion to transfer venue from Cook County to Kane County based on forum non conveniens, which is the legal doctrine that helps courts determine whether a particular action should be located in a specific venue based on several factors. A party can seek a venue change based on this doctrine when the chosen venue would pose an undue hardship to the defendants. There are several factors involved in making this assessment.

The plaintiff objected to the request for a venue change, arguing that the defendant failed to establish that the facts of the case favored litigation in Kane County. There were multiple exhibits offered by both parties as well as multiple witnesses identified. The court ultimately denied the motion to transfer, finding that the many different factors involved in a forum non conveniens assessment favored litigation in Kane County but that the defendant had not met the high standard required for obtaining a transfer.

The defendant appealed and the appellate court reversed the lower court’s denial of the motion, finding that the defendant had provided sufficient evidence to support the transfer of the litigation to Kane County. The evidence indicated that there were substantial ties to Kane County and many reasons why it would be the most convenient to litigate the matter there. Specifically, the court found that all three of the public interest factors favored a transfer. These factors largely involve determining whether it is unfair to impose the trial and burden of litigation on another county’s residents, and ensuring that localized controversies are decided locally.

If you were harmed in a car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. At Maurer Law, we pride ourselves on assisting North Carolina residents with understanding their legal rights and options following a personal injury accident. We will handle all phases of the legal process including investigating your claim and negotiating with insurance companies. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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