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What Is Venue?

Personal Injury Lawyer

Venue is distinct from jurisdiction, service, and other things that comprise the law of civil procedure. Venue is the location where litigation takes place and the laws of civil procedure determine exactly where litigation takes place – i.e., in which federal judicial court an action can be brought in.  Venue is also one of the most strategized aspects of a lawsuit.  Most large domestic and even international companies file motions with the court to bring a lawsuit into federal court because they believe that the laws are generally more favorable.  

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of venue, it’s important to understand the purpose behind venue – to place actions in judicial district that are connected to the parties or the events that gave rise to the action.  In each complaint, the plaintiff must create a prima-facie showing of evidence that where they are bringing the action, they have the venue to do so. 

So, what determines the venue of each particular action?  Venue is determined by Federal Code 28 U.S.C. 1391.  Under 1391 (b)(1), venue is proper in any judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same state.  The person’s domicile (i.e., home residence) is where the defendant is deemed to reside.  An entity or corporation resides in any judicial district in which it is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction. See 1391 (c)(2). Notably, if the state has only one judicial district, that one district is proper.  However, if the state has more than one judicial district, 1391 (d) governs and requires the plaintiff to determine where the defendant has more connections to and requires him or her to file in that district. 

As you may have inferred, the above section is a federal statute, which means it applies to federal, not state cases.  States have their own general subject matter jurisdiction and have the power to hear all cases except those certain actions that may only be brought in federal court. 

What happens when an action is originally brought in one court but that specific court is inconvenient or difficult for certain parties or witnesses to come to?  The action is dismissed altogether or moved to an alternative jurisdiction. The doctrine that allows and prescribes this is called forum non conveniens.  In order to obtain a dismissal on this ground, there must be another sufficient venue available to resolve the case and there must be a showing that interests in convenience to the parties and certain public interests favor the alternative forum.  This doctrine is where large and international companies can be clever – it can allow a case to be transferred from state to federal, federal to state, international to federal, or federal to international courts.  At times, these counsels do so in an attempt to have the case resolved in a more favorable forum. 

In short, venue is an important part of the law of civil procedure.  It governs where a case takes place, how a case can be moved from one jurisdiction to another, or how a case can be moved from court to another. If you are in need of assistance due to an accident on someone else’s property, contact a lawyer near you for help immediately.

Thanks to a personal injury lawyer from our friends at Eglet Adams for their insight on Venue.