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Choosing a Venue in State Court

When filing a lawsuit in your state, one of the prerequisites is choosing a venue, i.e. determining where you should file. You may end up filing in a city court, county court or a court dedicated to your specific kind of dispute. For instance, some courts are dedicated towards dealing with juveniles, traffic tickets, etc.

What is Venue

Venue is legal terminology that essentially means where you can properly file a law suit. Courts have set up a host of venue rules to determine which courts can hear which kinds of cases. Choosing a venue is important because if you cannot establish proper venue in a court, then that court has no power to hear your case and cannot make a decision.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Venue in State Court

Although venue rules can be sometimes complex, typically you can sue in any district where:

  • The defendant lives
  • The defendant does business
  • The accident or dispute took place
  • The contract was executed or performed
  • Substantial events leading to the lawsuit occurred

When More than One Court Could Hear Your Case

When choosing a venue, you may find that you have proper venue in more than one court, which is not unusual. The defendant may live in one county, but do business largely in another. As long as venue is proper, then it is your choice about where to suit. This is generally referred to as"forum shopping", and plaintiffs (the person filing the lawsuit) have a right to file the lawsuit anywhere that a court is legally allowed to hear it.

Common considerations when"forum shopping" include:

  • Proximity to the court
  • Whether potential jurors in one area may view your case more favorably
  • Whether a particular court seems"hostile" to claims such as yours

Although plaintiffs have the right to file the lawsuit anywhere they are legally allowed to, keep in mind that defendants can transfer the case to another court if they can demonstrate a good reason. So when choosing a venue for your lawsuit, choose a court that you can persuasively argue is the proper court to hear your claim.

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