Alabama high court orders dismissal so case over sports complex can be moved to Missouri court

By Carrie Salls | Nov 21, 2018

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) – The Supreme Court of Alabama granted a request by a Missouri construction company to vacate an order that denied its motion to dismiss the case over allegations of improper venue.

The Supreme Court granted the motion Nov. 2 by Killian Construction Co. and Christian Mills to order Baldwin Circuit Court to throw out its previous ruling and dismiss the lawsuit filed against the company because it should have been filed in a Missouri court.

The Supreme Court’s opinion said Springfield, Missouri-based Killian was hired by the city of Foley, Alabama to build a sports complex in Foley. Edward Woerner, the owner of Southern Turf Nurseries Inc., agreed in a Dec. 17, 2015, subcontract with Killian “to spread sand on all sports fields, to install sod on all sports fields and to sprig and overspread all common areas in connection with the sports complex.”

Woerner filed a lawsuit against Killian and Mills on April 25, 2017, in Baldwin Circuit Court, alleging that Killian did not pay him for some of the work he completed, both as part of the subcontract and above and beyond the agreement.

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Brady Mendheim

In addition, the Supreme Court said Woerner claimed in his suit that Mills, who works for Killian, talked him into doing “maintenance work not within the original subcontract for a certain price, but that Woerner was never paid for that work.”

Woerner alleged that he is owed $143,581 for work completed as part of his agreement with Killian and $206,996 for the additional work he did at Mills’ request. The lawsuit sought payment of $350,577 plus interest and costs from Killian over allegations breach of contract, compensatory and punitive damages from Killian and Mills for alleged fraudulent misrepresentation on Mills’ part, and $350,577 from Killian for unjust enrichment.

Killian and Mills attempted to have Woerner’s lawsuit moved to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama on June 2, 2017, arguing both that the federal court had jurisdiction because Mills lives in Florida and that Woerner’s subcontract with Killian required him to file any lawsuits related to the agreement in Missouri.

The Supreme Court opinion said a magistrate judge agreed with Woerner’s assertion that Mills was a resident of Alabama and sent the case back to the Circuit Court.

In response, Killian and Mills argued to the state’s high court that the lower court’s ruling should be dismissed so the case could be filed in Missouri, as required by the contract.

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