Insurer's delaying tactic over venue is rejected
Nationwide refused to acknowledge that Deb McCorkle was entitled to bring her no fault contract action against it in any county where Nationwide does business. Her collision occurred in Oakland County, but she filed suit to recover no fault PIP benefits in Washtenaw. Nationwide appealed the trial court's refusal to move the case to the venue it preferred.
The Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Nationwide's claim that her no fault contract claim was a "statutory" claim that must be brought in the county where she suffered injury. Under venue statutes, the injury victim was entitled to invoke the jurisdiction of any court where Nationwide is actively engaged in business.
The court acknowledged that 30 of 31 witnesses likely to be called at trial were from Oakland County, 45 miles away, and thus the trial court could have moved the venue to that location, if Nationwide had made a "strong and persuasive showing of inconvenience". Nevertheless, either circuit court could serve as a "principled outcome" of a motion to change venue on the basis of convenience, and the trial judge's refusal to move the case was not an abuse of discretion.