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The Role of “Venue” in a Maryland Personal Injury Lawsuit

When filing a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to identify the proper venue for your case. Venue refers to the court with the appropriate geographic jurisdiction to hear a particular case. In Maryland, there are circuit courts for each of the state’s 23 counties and the City of Baltimore. So, venue refers to the proper circuit court.

You might think that venue is based on where the plaintiff lives. But it is usually based on the defendant’s residence. So if the plaintiff resided in Charles County and the defendant resided in Prince George’s County, then the proper venue would be the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County.

When it comes to a personal injury lawsuit, venue may also be proper in the county where the accident occurred. For example, say you are a Charles County resident and get into an accident while driving in Prince George’s County. You could then file your lawsuit in Prince George’s regardless of where the defendant resided.

Baltimore City vs. Baltimore County?

While venue might seem like a small detail, it can have a significant impact on the course of a lawsuit. Take this recent decision from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, Forehand v. Planned Parenthood of Maryland. This is a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff alleged that a clinic located in Baltimore City was negligent in performing a medical procedure on her. Specifically, the clinic removed an implanted birth control device, part of which broke off during the procedure, which ultimately required the plaintiff to undergo a hysterectomy.

The lawsuit not only named the clinic as a defendant, but also the nurse practitioner who performed the removal and several non-Maryland corporations involved in producing the birth control device. The clinic and the nurse practitioner replied by filing a motion to transfer the case from Baltimore City to Baltimore County. The circuit court in Baltimore City granted that motion. The plaintiff appealed.

The Court of Special Appeals agreed with the clinic and the nurse practitioner that Baltimore City was not the proper venue for the plaintiff’s claims. The main reason for this was that the alleged negligence–the failed removal of the birth control device–took place in Baltimore County, not Baltimore City.

At the same time, it was not clear whether Baltimore County was the proper venue either to sue all of the named defendants. The appellate court noted that the corporate defendants did not take any position or file any documents in the lower court related to the venue issue. In assessing proper venue with respect to an out-of-state corporation, the trial court must first determine if that defendant “regularly conducted business” in a given county or city. Since no such determination was made here, the Court of Special Appeals returned the case to the Baltimore City circuit court for further proceedings.

Contact Waldorf Personal Injury Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions contact our office to speak to an experienced lawyer at (301) 870-1200.