The Effect of Affiliates on Proper Venue
On January 13, 2012, the Supreme Court of Alabama released its opinion in Ex parte Wright Brothers Construction Company, Inc., and GIBCO Construction, LLC. This case presented an interesting issue on proper venue.
On 2008, the employee, Roger Whited, was involved in an accident at a quarry in Jefferson County. The quarry was owned by Wright Brothers and GIBCO. In 2010, Whited filed a lawsuit in Walker County against both parties to recover damages for his injuries. Whited claimed that venue in Walker County was proper because he was a resident of Walker County and that Wright Brothers had an affiliate, Walker County Rock Products ("WCRP"), based in Walker County. Wright Brothers moved for a change of venue based on the argument that it was a separate entity from WCRP and supported that contention with evidence and affidavits of its corporate secretary. The trial court denied Wright Brothers’ motion. Wright Brothers appealed the trial court’s decision.
The Supreme Court agreed with Wright Brothers’ arguments. The Court held that even if Wright Brothers was affiliated with WCRP, WCRP was not named in the suit. Therefore venue could not be based on WCRP’s presence in Walker County.