Maryland Court Rules for Plaintiff in Wrongful Death Appeal Regarding Venue

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.

On appeal, the court agreed with the plaintiffs’ interpretation, holding that § 6–202 was intended to permit the plaintiff to choose either a venue permitted by § 6–201 or one permitted by § 6–202.  As a result, the appeals court first determined whether there was a single venue applicable to all of the defendants, based on where they carry on their business.  For the doctor and one hospital defendant, venue was available in both Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County.  For the second hospital defendant, venue was available only in Anne Arundel County.  Since the complaint alleged venue for the manufacturer and monitoring service defendants in Baltimore City, the defendants had the burden to prove otherwise.  Finding that no affidavit or other evidence was submitted showing that both defendants carried on business in Anne Arundel County, the court held they failed to meet that burden.  With no single venue applicable to all of the defendants in Anne Arundel County, the court ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to sue the defendants where any one of them could be sued, which included Baltimore City.

If you have been hurt as a result of faulty medical treatment, a careless driver, or other negligence, a personal injury attorney can assist you in filing a claim against the person at fault.  The Maryland firm of Foran & Foran, P.A. provides trusted legal representation to victims of accidents and medical malpractice.  To learn more, contact Foran & Foran, P.A. by phone at (301) 441-2022 or online and schedule your consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court Reviews $185,000 Jury Award to Plaintiff in Medical Negligence Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 23, 2016

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Rules in Medical Malpractice Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 24, 2015

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