The recent case of Morrissey v. Subaru of America, Inc. involved a motor vehicle accident in which a husband and wife sustained injuries after the car in which they were riding accelerated unexpectedly and crashed into a fence made out of stone. The accident occurred in the Virgin Islands, a territory of the United States. The women sustained severe injuries during the accident that left her paralyzed permanently.
After the accident, the couple brought a legal action against the maker of the automobile, a Japanese company, in Florida court. In their complaint, the husband and wife asserted multiple theories of recovery, including negligent design, strict liability, negligence per se, breach of warranty, negligent manufacturing, and failure to warn. The husband also asserted a loss of consortium claim.
After filing this lawsuit, the couple initiated two other lawsuits against the defendants in the Virgin Islands. In response to these lawsuits, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the court did not have jurisdiction over the car manufacturer. The defendant auto distributor filed a motion to transfer the action to a court in Florida.
In the Florida action, the manufacturer brought a motion to transfer venue from the Southern District of Florida, where the couple originally initiated the action, to a court in Tampa, claiming that the Tampa location would result in more convenience for the parties while also promoting judicial efficiency.
Reviewing the statutes applicable to venue transfers, 28 U.S.C. Section 1404(a), the Southern District court noted that changes of venue may be granted when they would promote judicial interests, the interests of justice, convenience for the litigants, and the use of witnesses. In determining whether the transfer should be granted, the court assessed multiple factors. Section 1404(a) provides, however, that the court must give some deference to the plaintiffs’ original choice of venue.
According to the record, the plaintiffs lived in the region surrounding the Tampa court’s district for at least two years, and the court noted that the Tampa location was likely more convenient for all of the litigants involved and any witnesses. Most important, perhaps, was the court’s consideration of the Tampa court’s ability to issue subpoenas to witnesses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c). The Miami court would not be able to issue such subpoenas, due to its location over 100 miles from where the witnesses lived or worked. Ultimately, the court determined that the factors weighed in favor of transferring the action to the Tampa court and granted the defendant’s motion.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, we have helped people throughout Southwest Florida seek the compensation they deserve after becoming injured due to another party’s carelessness. We know just how daunting the legal process can seem, and we will ensure that we provide you with the diligent and compassionate guidance that you need. We represent victims in Fort Myers, Naples, and Cape Coral. Call us now at 1-800-283-7442 to set up your free consultation or contact us online.
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