Miller, Hamilton, Snider & Odom, LLC ("the law firm"), and three of its attorneys,
In November 2001, Harris and Perkins filed a lawsuit on behalf of Community Bank and its holding company, Community Bancshares, Inc., in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division, which is located in Jefferson County. The defendants in that lawsuit included Bryan A. Corr, Sr.; Doris Corr, individually and as the executrix of the estate of R.C. Corr, Jr., deceased; Tina M. Corr; and Corr, Inc. (collectively "the Corrs"). Ultimately, Community Bank and Community Bancshares, Inc., voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.
On March 18, 2005, the Corrs sued the law firm and Harris, Miller, and Perkins in the Blount Circuit Court. The factual allegations of the complaint concerned the defendants' involvement in filing and prosecuting the earlier federal action against the Corrs. The complaint in the state-court action included claims of malicious prosecution, negligent supervision, and wantonness.
On April 26, 2005, the law firm and Miller, Harris, and Perkins filed a motion to transfer the Corrs' action to the Baldwin Circuit Court. On September 22, 2005, the trial court, without explanation, denied the motion to transfer, and the defendants then timely filed their petition for a writ of mandamus.
When the trial court denies a motion for a change of venue, the defendants may seek relief by filing a petition for a writ of mandamus.
Ex parte Walter Indus., Inc., 879 So.2d 547, 548-49 (Ala.2003).
"Where several claims or parties have been joined, the suit may be brought in any county in which any one of the claims could properly have been brought." Rule 82(c), Ala. R. Civ. P. Therefore, initially, we will consider whether Blount County is a proper venue insofar as the Corrs' claims against the individuals, Harris, Miller, or Perkins, are concerned.
§ 6-3-2(a)(3), Ala.Code 1975. Miller, Harris, and Perkins have their permanent residences in Alabama; none of them, however,
As the parties agree, for purposes of § 6-3-2(a)(3), an alleged act of malicious prosecution is deemed to have occurred in the county where the underlying lawsuit was filed and ultimately resolved favorably to the plaintiffs in the malicious-prosecution action. See Ex parte Shuttlesworth, 420 So.2d 256 (Ala. 1982). Here, the underlying lawsuit against the Corrs was filed in federal court in Jefferson County. Consequently, Blount County is not a proper venue insofar as Miller, Harris, and Perkins are concerned.
Next, we must determine whether Blount County is a proper venue insofar as the law firm, a limited liability company, is concerned. Regrettably, no Alabama venue statute mentions limited liability companies. Therefore, we must decide which statute governs the venue of an action against such an entity.
The Alabama Limited Liability Company Act is codified at Ala.Code 1975, § 10-12-1 et seq. Section 10-12-8 provides, in pertinent part:
The Commentary to § 10-12-8 states, in pertinent part:
In light of § 10-12-8, and of the uncontroverted fact that the law firm, for many years, has been treated as a partnership for federal income-tax purposes, we will treat the law firm as a partnership for venue purposes.
Section 6-3-7, Ala.Code 1975, governs the venue of actions against foreign and domestic corporations. However, that section "relate[s] to venue for only corporate defendants and not to venue for natural persons or partnerships." Ex parte Haynes Downard Andra & Jones, LLP, 924 So.2d 687, 700 (Ala.2005). The venue of actions against unincorporated organizations
No member of the law firm has a permanent residence in Blount County. Under the teachings of Shuttlesworth, venue in this malicious-prosecution action is not proper in Blount County insofar as the law firm is concerned. Consequently, venue is not proper in Blount County as to any defendant.
Ala. R. Civ. P. 82(d)(3) provides, in pertinent part: "In the event the venue of the action is . . . improper and venue is appropriate in more than one other court, . . . multiple defendants, by unanimous agreement, shall have the right to select such other court to which the action shall be transferred." The law firm and Miller, Harris, and Perkins selected Baldwin County, the county of Harris's permanent residence as the county to which the action should be transferred and have made a clear showing that the trial court erred in refusing to transfer the action to the Baldwin Circuit Court. Therefore, we grant the petition for the writ of mandamus and direct the trial court to vacate its order denying the defendants' motion to transfer and to enter an order transferring the action to the Baldwin Circuit Court.
PETITION GRANTED; WRIT ISSUED.
NABERS, C.J., and LYONS, SMITH, and PARKER, JJ., concur.