The Tippecanoe Circuit Court properly surrendered jurisdiction of a dog-shooting case because none of the incidents giving rise to the case, including the shooting, took place in Tippecanoe County, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
In January 2017, Riley Snedeker, who was Kelly and Aaron Bagsby’s neighbor in Warren County, allegedly shot and killed the Bagsbys’ dog. After taking the dog to Tippecanoe County for a necropsy, the couple sued Snedeker in Tippecanoe County, alleging intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, trespass to chattel, negligence and conversion.
Snedeker moved to transfer the case to Warren County under Indiana Trial Rules 12(B)(3) and 75(A), which the Tippecanoe Circuit Court agreed to do. The Bagsbys brought an interlocutory appeal in Kelly Bagsby and Aaron Bagsby v. Riley T. Snedeker, 79A02-1706-CT-1315, but the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the transfer on Friday.
Drawing on precedent from R & D Transport, Inc. v. A.H., 59 N.E.2d 332, 337 (Ind. 2006), and Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. v. Cronin, 903 N.E.2d 109 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), Judge Paul Mathias wrote Warren County was the appropriate venue for the case because the couple and the dog lived in that county when the shooting occurred. Though the dog was taken to Tippecanoe County for a necropsy and will be buried there, the incident causing to the litigation occurred in Warren County.
“If we were to hold that Tippecanoe is a preferred county under Indiana Trial Rule 75(A)(2), then as the trial court aptly stated, ‘any plaintiff could move (a) chattel to a favorable venue and assert he did so for a non-litigation reason. This would require conducting an evidentiary hearing as to the plaintiff’s motivation in every case,’” Mathias said. “We share the concern expressed by the trial court.”