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Georgia Venue Transfer - Forum Non Conveniens Doctrine

According to the forum non conveniens doctrine set forth in O.C.G.A. § 9-10-31.1, upon written motion, a court may decline to exercise jurisdiction over a case and transfer venue to a different county of proper venue in the state if “in the interest of justice and for the convenience of the parties and witnesses" a claim would more properly be heard in a different forum. InGeorgia, civil cases are to be tried in the county where the defendant resides. SeeGa.Const. Art. VI, § II,Para. VI. However, where there are joint tortfeasors, venue is proper in any county in which one of the defendants reside. O.C.G.A. § 9-10-31(b).

In order to determine whether the interest of justice and the convenience of the parties and witnesses supports a venue transfer, a court must consider the following factors:

(1) Relative ease of access to sources of proof;

(2) Availability and cost of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling witnesses;

(3) Possibility of viewing of the premises, if viewing would be appropriate to the action;

(4) Unnecessary expense or trouble to the defendant not necessary to the plaintiffs own right to pursue his or her remedy;

(5) Administrative difficulties for the forum courts;

(6) Existence of local interests in deciding the case locally; and

(7) The traditional deference given to a plaintiff’s choice of forum.

SeeO.C.G.A. § 9-10-31.1.

Significantly, the moving party bears the burden of showing that the factors set forth in the venue statute support a transfer. Blackmon v. Tenet Healthsystem Spalding, Inc., 288 Ga.App. 137, 653 S.E.2d 333 (2007) (reversed on other grounds);R.J. Taylor Memorial Hospital, Inc. v. Beck, 280Ga.660, 631 S.E.2d 684 (2006) (finding that a movant requesting that venue be transferred has the burden to show that the factors set forth in forum non conveniens statute support the transfer). A trial court judge will not be overruled on appeal for declining to transfer venue unless Defendants can show a clear abuse of discretion. Blackmon, 288 Ga.App. 137, 653 S.E.2d 333 (finding that burden on appeal of a denial of motion for change of venue is for party seeking venue change to demonstrate an abuse of the trial court's discretion in refusing to transfer the case);R.J. Taylor Memorial Hospital, Inc., 280 Ga. 660, 631 S.E.2d 684 (finding that trial court will not be overruled unless defendants can demonstrate an abuse of the trial court's discretion in refusing to transfer the case).

Additional resources provided by the author

See O.C.G.A. § 9-10-31.1 and case annotations.

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