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State ex rel. Neville v. Grate

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Writ Division

August 5, 2014

STATE OF MISSOURI, ex rel., PALMER NEVILLE, JAMES W. NEVILLE, JR., and JENNIFER NEVILLE, Relators
v.
THE HONORABLE JACK R. GRATE, Respondent

Page 689

David C. DeGreef, for Relators Palmer Neville, James W. Neville, Jr., and Jennifer Neville.

Charles H. Stitt, for Respondents.

OPINION

Joseph M. Ellis, Presiding Judge.

Page 690

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN WRIT OF PROHIBITION

Palmer Neville, James W. Neville, Jr., and Jennifer Neville (collectively, " Relators" ) have petitioned this Court for a writ of prohibition to prohibit the Honorable Jack R. Grate (" Respondent" ) from transferring Relators' underlying tort action[1] from the Circuit Court of Jackson County to the Circuit Court of Bates County.[2] For the following reasons, this Court's preliminary writ is made permanent.

In 2012, Relators filed their petition in the Circuit Court of Jackson County against Michael and Ava Christie and Midland Land and Cattle Company (collectively, " Defendants" ).[3] The petition alleges that, on October 29, 2010, Relator Palmer Neville sustained injuries as a result of an ATV accident that occurred on property owned and operated by Defendants. Relators further allege that Defendants were negligent in their entrustment of the ATV to Neville, their failure to supervise Neville, and their failure to adequately train

Page 691

or instruct Neville. The alleged negligent instruction, supervision, and entrustment is said to have occurred on Defendants' property in Bates County, Missouri. The accident and subsequent resulting injuries, however, are alleged to have occurred on property owned by Defendants in Linn County, Kansas.[4]

At the time of the accident, all Relators were Kansas residents as were Defendants Michael and Ava Christie. Defendant Midland Land and Cattle Company is a Kansas corporation that owns property and transacts business in Missouri. Midland Land and Cattle Company, however, does not have a registered agent in Missouri.

Defendants subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the underlying action or, in the alternative, a motion to transfer venue to Bates County, Missouri. In their motion, Defendants contended that the underlying action must be dismissed, without prejudice, because no Missouri county constitutes a proper venue under the general venue statute, § 508.010.[5] Alternatively, Defendants averred that the case must be transferred to Bates County because Bates County has the only logical nexus to the case in that the alleged negligent entrustment, supervision, and instruction occurred on Defendants' Bates County property. Relators opposed the motion, asserting that venue is proper in any Missouri county because § 508.010.5 does not prescribe a venue under the particular facts and circumstances of this case. Ultimately, Respondent granted Defendants' motion to transfer venue, and the underlying case was transferred to Bates County.

Relators then filed a petition for a writ of prohibition with this Court requesting that we prohibit Respondent from transferring the underlying action to Bates County.[6] After receiving Defendants' suggestions in opposition to Relators' writ petition, we entered a preliminary writ ordering the underlying case be transferred back to Jackson County and prohibiting Respondent from taking any further action to enforce his order transferring the underlying action to Bates County.[7]

Relators now contend that the writ of prohibition is appropriate and should be made permanent because Respondent has no authority to disturb a proper venue selection based upon a belief that another Missouri county has a more " logical nexus" to the facts and circumstances of the case. Writs of prohibition ...


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