STATE EX REL. RONALD PRATER, GWENDALYN GONZALES, DEANN THOMPSON, AND LUCILLE CURTMAN, Relators,
THE HONORABLE JASON R. BROWN, Respondent.
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN MANDAMUS
Fischer, Chief Justice.
Prater, Gwendalyn Gonzales, Deann Thompson, and Lucille
Curtman ("Relators") filed a petition for a writ of
prohibition or mandamus requiring Respondent to transfer the
underlying declaratory judgment action from Greene County to
Pulaski County. This Court issued a preliminary writ of
mandamus. Greene County is an improper venue because none of
the defendants in the declaratory judgment action reside in
Greene County. The preliminary writ of mandamus is made
vehicle driven by Dakota Ball collided with a vehicle
occupied by Ronald and Juanita Prater. Mr. Prater
("Prater") was injured, and Mrs. Prater was killed.
The accident occurred in Pulaski County, Missouri. Relators
filed a wrongful death action against Ball in Pulaski
County. Prater filed a personal injury action
against Ball in Pulaski County. The parties agreed to
transfer the wrongful death and personal injury actions to
Greene County, Missouri.
stepmother, Christina Gruendler, was insured by an auto
policy issued by USAA General Indemnity Company
("USAA"). USAA filed a declaratory judgment action
in Greene County against Prater, Ball, and Gruendler seeking
a declaration the policy did not cover Ball. Prater resided
in Miller County, Missouri, Ball resided in Maryland, and
Gruendler resided in Pulaski County. Prater filed a motion to
transfer venue of the declaratory judgment action from Greene
County to Pulaski County because none of the defendants
resided in or were served in Greene County and the accident
occurred in Pulaski County. The circuit court overruled
Prater's motion and ordered USAA to amend its petition by
adding all wrongful death claimants to the declaratory
judgment action. All of the additional defendants resided
in either Miller or Pulaski county.
filed a motion to transfer venue asserting Greene County was
an improper venue because no defendant resided in Greene
County. The circuit court overruled the motion. Relators
filed a petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition. This
Court issued a preliminary writ of mandamus.
Court has jurisdiction to issue original remedial writs. Mo.
Const. art. V, § 4.1. Venue is determined by rule or
statute. State ex rel. Heartland Title Servs., Inc. v.
Harrell 500 S.W.3d 239, 241 (Mo. banc 2016). "It is
well-established that this Court accepts the use of an
extraordinary writ to correct improper venue decisions of the
circuit court before trial and judgment." Id.
(internal quotation omitted). Mandamus is appropriate if the
circuit court fails to perform its ministerial duty to
transfer a case from an improper venue to a proper venue.
State ex rel. DePaul Health Ctr. v. Mummert, 870
S.W.2d 820, 823 (Mo. banc 1994).
underlying declaratory judgment action names multiple
defendants, seeks a declaration of USAA's contractual
obligations, and does not involve a count alleging a tort. In
cases with no count alleging a tort and involving multiple
resident defendants or multiple resident and non-resident
defendants, § 508.010.2, RSMo Supp. 2014, provides venue
shall be in any county where any of the defendants
reside. Greene County is an improper venue
pursuant to § 508.010.2 because none of the defendants
in the declaratory judgment action reside in Greene
County. The circuit court failed to execute its
ministerial duty to transfer the declaratory judgment action
from Greene County to a proper venue.
preliminary writ of mandamus is made permanent, and the
circuit court is ordered to transfer the case to Pulaski