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Ala. SC transfers toxic exposure case

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jan 19, 2011


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - The Alabama Supreme Court last week granted the petition of a refining and manufacturing company to have its case transferred to another court.

In the Court's 15-page opinion, filed Friday, it issued a writ of mandamus directing the Jefferson Circuit Court to transfer the case against International Refining and Manufacturing Company, Inc., to the Fayette Circuit Court.

From 1964-2002, Arvin Industries, also known as Arvin-Meritor, Inc., operated a plant in Fayette at which automotive mufflers were produced. Arvin closed the plant in 2002.

In 2003, Bell Carr and 230 other former employees sued Arvin in the Fayette Circuit Court alleging injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals during their employment.

In 2005, the plaintiffs amended the complaint to add "new defendants" -- the entities that manufactured or sold the toxic chemicals to Arvin -- and to add various claims, including wantonness.

International Refining was one of the "new defendants" named in the amended complaint.

The company moved to transfer the action against it to the Fayette Circuit Court, arguing that the "events or omissions giving rise to" the declaratory-judgment action occurred in Fayette County.

They also argued the doctrine of forum non conveniens mandated a transfer.

After considering briefs and conducting a hearing, the lower court denied International Refining's motion to transfer the action.

The company then filed the petition for a writ of mandamus, asking the state's high court to order the trial court to move the case.

Associate Justice Lyn Stuart, who authored the Court's opinion, said International Refining "established a clear legal right" to have the action transferred.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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