William W. Hurst
Law Office of William W. Hurst, LLC
50 S. Meridian St., Suite 600, Indianapolis, IN 46204
The choice of what court to bring a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana is governed by Trial Rule 75(A)-Venue. The rule gives 9 different venues that qualify as a “preferred venue” and a 10th option if (1)-(9) do not apply to the situation. “An Indiana Plaintiff may elect to bring suit in any county meeting the criteria listed in Trial Rule 75(A)(1)-(9), and each such county is a county of preferred venue. Among the counties in which preferred venue lies, no preference is given to one county over another”. Grove v. Thomas, 446 N.E.2d 641, 642 (Ind. Ct. App. 1983).
Indiana T.R. 75(A)(1)-(9) are summarized as follows:
T.R. 75(A)(10) is for a special circumstance.
The most interesting and often used subsection of the Indiana venue statute is subsection (2) which covers locations where land or chattels are housed. Since the 1983 case of Grove v. Thomas Plaintiffs have used this subsection to assist in causing venue to lie in the county where the Plaintiff resides (when the accident caused damages to Plaintiff’s auto), since an automobile is typically housed at the Plaintiff’s residence. The 2006 case of R & D Transp., Inc. v. A.H. repealed prior cases which attempted to do this with personal property, damaged in a collision but owned and kept by the Plaintiff at their residence. An issue which arises is did this case overrule the 1983 case of Grove v. Thomas? The writer of this article believes that it did not. The court in R & D Transp., Inc. relied heavily on the conclusion that the location at which the personal property was kept played no role in the accident or the claim. This basis makes the facts of the case supremely important. The R & D Transp., Inc. case dealt with small items of personal property (e.g. orthotic devices). In cases such as Grove, damage was done to the automobile itself. The venue where a vehicle is housed can be viewed as more important than the venue where a small item of personal property is housed (e.g. maintenance and repair of the vehicle is typically done near where the vehicle is housed). Additionally, the R & D Transp., Inc. court explicitly named several cases which its holding was meant to overrule. All of the named cases involved personal property damaged within a vehicle; none of the cases had damage to the vehicle itself. Grove v. Thomas was not named in that list.
As a further factor to help determine preferred venue under T.R. 75(A), the Indiana Supreme Court has advocated “adherence to the spirit of convenience underlying the venue rules, rather than an examination of the technical language.” Randolph County v. Chamness, 879 N.E.2d 555, 558 (Ind. 2008). In Randolph County v Chamness, the Indiana Supreme Court required the convenience to the court and parties trying the case to be considered when establishing preferred venue. “Preferred venue is located in counties where information is readily available, where relevant land and personal property can be found, where witnesses can be easily brought to court, and where the litigants reside or hold office.” Randolph County v. Chamness, 879 N.E.2d 555, 557 (Ind. 2008).
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