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COA reverses trial court in personal injury case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court’s denial of a motion to transfer, holding that Marion County is not a preferred venue for the case.

In Salsbery Pork Producers, Inc., Richard K. Wilson, Tipton Co. Commissioners, Tipton Co. Highway Department, Chad Bergin, State of Indiana, Indiana Department of Transportation v. Latina Booth, No. 49A02-1110-CT-983, Latina Booth filed a lawsuit in Marion County after she was seriously injured in a crash. The basis for filing in Indianapolis was that she named the state as a defendant, holding it had failed to properly maintain the Tipton County road where she was injured.

Booth was a passenger in Chad Bergin’s car, traveling along County Road 1100 in Tipton County. Richard K. Wilson was driving a tractor in the scope of his employment with Salsbery Pork Producers when he pulled onto the road and struck Bergin’s car.

Booth named Bergin, Wilson, Salsbery, the state and Tipton County as defendants in her negligence suit.

Tipton County filed a motion for change of venue, saying that only the county – not the state – had control over CR 1100, and therefore the case should be moved from Marion County. The trial court denied the motion, but the appellate court reversed that decision.

The COA held that the state should have been dropped from the case and that the preferred venue is Tipton County, where most of the defendants are located, and where the accident happened. But the appellate judges rejected the defendants’ claims that Booth’s decision to file in Marion County was in bad faith, because evidence of who controlled the county road surfaced only after the Tipton County defendants moved for transfer of venue. The case is remanded for proceedings consistent with the appellate court opinion.   

 

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