There are important rules regarding the location of the court where a case is heard, known as venue. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently discussed this issue in the context of a wrongful death action in Smith v. Salim (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Dec. 27, 2016).
In Smith, the plaintiffs’ young daughter died when her pacemaker’s battery expired. The plaintiffs brought suit against five defendants, including the doctor, the hospital where the pacemaker was implanted, the hospital where the child was treated before her death, the manufacturer of the pacemaker, and the service monitoring the pacemaker. The defendants filed a motion to transfer venue from Baltimore City to Anne Arundel County, claiming that it was the single common venue for all five defendants. The circuit court granted the motion over the plaintiffs’ objection, and the plaintiffs appealed.
In Maryland, CJP § 6-201 provides that if there is more than one defendant in a civil action, and there is no single venue applicable to all of the defendants, all may be sued in a county in which any one of them could be sued, subject to the provisions of CJP § 6-202. Under CJP § 6-202, the action may be brought in the county where the plaintiff resides, if the defendant is a corporation that has no principal place of business in Maryland. In Smith, the defendants argued that the provisions of § 6-202 take priority over § 6-201. The plaintiffs contended that neither section has priority over the other and that § 6-202 merely presents options for alternative venues to those available under § 6-201.