Over-reaching Farm Bureau claim gets dunked
Bill Carpenter, a Farm Bureau insured and Michigan resident, was working in Indiana when he was hurt in a car wreck. The at-fault, Wendy Black, happened also to be a Michigan resident. Indiana, like Michigan, requires injury victims to bring suit in the County where the injury occurred. When Carpenter sued, however, Farm Bureau ran to court in Michigan and filed its own suit, seeking to force Carpenter's case in Indiana to be dismissed. Turns out that Farm Bureau liked Michigan law better and wanted a court to apply Michigan law because the two drivers were both from Michigan.
The Trial Court granted Farm Bureau a temporary injunction, but then dismissed the case after analyzing Farm Bureau's claim on the merits. The judge concluded that there is a strong public policy in favor of requiring that injury cases be tried where the injury occurred, in order to minimize "forum shopping." It also pointed out that a Michigan Court has no control over the Indiana judiciary and that Farm Bureau had not yet even asked the Indiana court to apply Michigan law or to deny jursidiction or send the case to a more convenient forum.
The Court of Appeals took almost no time to reject Farm Bureau's appeal, pointing out that Farm Bureau's "desire to impose law more favorable to itself...." was not an adequate basis to enter an injunction and to attempt to impose its will over an Indiana accident and Indiana court. It further noted that despite the coincidence of two Michigan residents being involved in the collision, a number of factors including the convenience of witnesses and medical treaters, the applicability of Indiana traffic laws, and the imposition on Indiana police officers all made the Indiana venue potentially more reasonable.