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Friday, December 13, 2019

Alabama Supreme Court denies venue change in lawsuit over crash that killed four

State Court

By Charmaine Little | Oct 8, 2019

Mitchelljay
Mitchell

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Although a car crash that led to a wrongful death lawsuit occurred in Chilton County, the Supreme Court of Alabama denied a motion that would get the case transferred there from Bibb County on Sept.13.

Trucking company KKE LLC and one of its drivers, Ronny Sanders, who were sued in the wrongful death case, asked the Supreme Court to move the case from Chilton County to Bibb County after a lower court refused to do so, but the Supreme Court denied the claim.

“It is undisputed that Bibb County is an appropriate venue for the Riverses’ action because Sanders is a Bibb County resident and KKE’s principal place of business is in Bibb County,” said the Supreme Court. While the accident happened in Chilton County, the Supreme Court said, “the plaintiff’s choice of venue is generally given great deference.”

Sanders was driving a KKE truck that collided with a vehicle driven by Destini Davis, who had three passengers -- Londyn Rivers, Tarlanda Davenport and Makiyah Davenport -- in the car. All four died in the crash. Rivers’ father, DeWillis, and Keisha Rivers, on behalf of Tarlanda and Makiyah, sued Sanders and KKE, alleging negligence, in the Bibb Circuit Court. 

Neither plaintiffs nor defendant live in Chilton County, and the possible witnesses, an Alabama State Trooper and two Alabama Department of Transportation workers, would have to take more time away from work if the case were to be moved to Chilton County. Ultimately, there was nothing that would make Chilton County a more convenient venue compared to Bibb County, the Supreme Court said.

Additionally, the court said Sanders’ hiring, training and supervision all primarily took place in Bibb County. The case has a strong connection to Chilton County, but it doesn’t have a weaker one to Bibb County, the court said.

Justice Jay Mitchell wrote the opinion. Chief Justice Tom Parker and justices Michael Bolin, Greg Shaw, Alisa Kelli Wise, Tommy Bryan, Brad Mendheim and Sarah Hicks Stewart concurred. Justice Wiliam B. Sellers concurred specially.

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