Anderson had a good post earlier this week about the Miss. Supreme Court’s decision last week in Autozone v. Craft. The case was an interlocutory appeal from the Smith County Circuit Court’s denial of a motion to transfer venue.

From Anderson’s post:

Buddy Craft allegedly bought a part for his car from AutoZone in Scott County, which he claimed malfunctioned and damaged his car in Smith County, where he filed suit. AutoZone moved to change venue and appealed the denial.

The order (Lamar, J.) quotes MCA 11-11-3:

Civil actions of which the circuit court has original jurisdiction shall be commenced in the county where the defendant resides, or, if a corporation, in the county of its principal place of business, or in the county where a substantial alleged act or omission occurred or where a substantial event that caused the injury occurred.

 The Court held that the “act or omission” was in Scott, and summarily stated that “Craft failed to allege in his Complaint that a substantial event that caused the injury occurred in Smith County.”

In the majority were Justices Lamar, Waller, Carlson, Dickinson and Pierce.

Four Justices dissented: Chandler, Randolph, Kitchens and King. The dissent’s point was that plaintiff’s use of the part and injury in Smith County was a substantial event that caused injury.

My Take:

I’m fascinated by how I read and analyzed this decision. Rather than focus on the statutory language, I thought about whether I felt it was fair for AutoZone to get sued in Smith County under those facts. Having a bit of experience defending cases in Smith County, it didn’t see that fair to me, so I decided I agreed with the majority. Before really focusing on the venue statute. My analysis is probably a small example of how people—including jurors—marshal the facts to support a decision they made under the influence of a bias.    

  • Anderson

    Thanks, Philip. I think looking at fairness rather than the statute is just what the Court did on this one.
    Note also the Rhaly decision upholding 6-2 on cert the harsh discovery sanction for the City of Jackson’s hiding its policy manual.
    I’ve changed my own mind on this one … curious from your previous post whether you still think the Court was too harsh.