Alabama Supreme Court grants Mercedes-Benz a change of venue in Workers' Comp case

By Takesha Thomas | Jan 17, 2019

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) – The Alabama Supreme Court has granted Mercedes-Benz's petition for writ of mandamus for a change of venue in a Workers' Compensation lawsuit.

On Jan. 4, the three-judge panel for the Supreme Court of Alabama vacated a lower court's denial of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. (MBSUI) motion to have its case moved from Jefferson Circuit Court to Tuscaloosa Circuit Court. 

The case was brought against Mercedes-Benz by Gregory Nix, a former assembly worker at Mercedes-Benz's Tuscaloosa County manufacturing facility. Nix, who was employed at the facility until June 2017, alleges that during his employment, "he suffered on-the-job injuries the cumulative effect of which have left him permanently and totally disabled," according to the ruling. 

He sued Mercedes-Benz in August 2017 for Workers' Compensation benefits for the injuries he allegedly suffered during his employment.

In the latest motion, Mercedes-Benz argued that the automobile-manufacturing company is based out of Tuscaloosa County and manufactures certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles at its facility in Tuscaloosa County. The company added that although it does not maintain any corporate offices in Jefferson County, Mercedes-Benz does purchase "parts used in manufacturing automobiles from multiple suppliers located in Jefferson County, one of which is Kamtek Inc." 

"From this, it is impossible to determine the nature and extent of Mercedes's activities in Jefferson County," Justice William B. Sellers wrote. "The regular purchasing of parts or materials from a supplier located in a certain county, by itself, does not constitute '[doing] business by agent' in that county." 

Attorneys for Nix, however, argued that the Jefferson County venue is proper because he was a resident of Jefferson County at the time the injury occurred and because Mercedes-Benz "does business by agent" there.

"A mere contract with a parts supplier cannot reasonably be anticipated by the purchasing company to have the effect of consenting to venue in the county where the parts supplier is located for a tort action or a worker's compensation action," Sellers wrote.

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