Not all courts are the same. While judges are all supposed to follow the law as it is written, there are situations in which a case does not neatly fit into the laws as they currently stand. In such cases, judges may be required to interpret statutes or give meaning to previous judicial opinions and apply this analysis to the facts in the case before them. This can result in a situation in which the judge “creates” the law as it applies to the specific case.
Because of this, it can be very important which court hears a case. A recent case before the Texas Supreme Court highlights the lengths parties will go to in ensuring that the venue hearing the case is of their own choice.
In re J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc.
In this case, J.B. Hunt was a trucking company that employed a truck driver who was involved in a fatal accident that claimed the life of another motorist. According to the court’s written opinion, an Isuzu Rodeo broke down on the highway and pulled off to the far-right lane. A truck owned by J.B. Hunt was driving in that same lane, and after a few moments, the truck slammed into the rear of the Isuzu, killing one of the occupants.
Before either of the occupants could file a lawsuit against the trucking company, the trucking company actually filed a lawsuit against the operator of the vehicle in Waller County, Texas, seeking compensation for the property damage to the truck. A few days later, the surviving occupants of the vehicle filed a lawsuit against J.B. Hunt in Dallas County, alleging negligence and seeking compensation for their personal injuries and losses.
The question arose of which county was to hear the case. Judges in both Waller and Dallas Counties believed that their court was the proper venue, and neither dismissed the case filed before it. J.B. Hunt appealed to a higher court, seeking an order compelling Dallas County to dismiss the case and allowing Waller County to proceed with the case. This would force the occupants of the vehicle to file their claim against the company as a counter-claim, which would in turn be heard by Waller County. For whatever reason, J.B. Hunt felt as though Waller County was a more favorable venue for the case.
The Court’s Decision
The Supreme Court of Texas ultimately decided that Waller County should hear the entire case, since the trucking company was first to file. The court noted that there are some exceptions to the first-to-file rule, but none of them applied under these circumstances. The court approved of J.B. Hunt’s desire to seek a favorable venue and explained that it was not against the rule of law for it to create a situation in which the entire case would be heard in Waller County.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as the case discussed above indicates, there are many issues that you have not likely thought of. Issues such as jurisdiction, venue, personal service, and other procedural rules can tie up a case for months, if not years, and may even result in a case being dismissed prematurely. To ensure that you are treated fairly and that your case is given the attention it deserves, call the Maryland truck accident law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC at 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
Plaintiffs in Truck Accident Case Allowed to Proceed in Product Liability Case against Manufacturer of Allegedly Faulty Vehicle, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published May 25, 2016.
Student Permitted to Recover for Injuries from School Bus Driver when Struck by Another Vehicle Prior to Boarding the Bus, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 3, 2016.