The Alabama Supreme Court holds that venue of a products liability claim against the corporate seller of fertilizer was not proper in the county of the plaintiff’s residence.

 In Ex parte Thomasville Feed & Seed, Inc., ___ So. 3d ___, 2011 WL 2573049 (Ala. June 30,  2011), a cattle farmer sued Thomasville Feed & Seed, Inc., in the Wilcox Circuit Court, alleging that fertilizer the farmer purchased from Thomasville’s store in Clarke County was defective under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine and killed his grass.  Thomasville filed a petition for the writ of mandamus with the Supreme Court after the trial court denied its motion to transfer the action to Clarke County.  In granting the writ, the Court agreed with Thomasville, noting that § 6-3-7, Ala. Code 1975, requires civil actions against corporations to be brought in the county in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the action occurred (or where a substantial part of real property that is the subject of the action is located), in the county of the corporation’s principal office in Alabama, or in the county in which the plaintiff resided at the time his claim accrued, but only if the corporate defendant does business in that county.  If none of these options applies, then the action may be commenced in any county in which the corporate defendant was doing business at the time the claim accrued.


Thomasville’s president submitted an affidavit showing that Thomasville did business only in Clarke County where its store is located, thereby shifting the burden to the plaintiff to show that Thomasville did indeed do business in Wilcox County.  The plaintiff submitted nothing in response and therefore failed to satisfy his burden.


The Court also concluded that the events giving rise to the plaintiff’s claim occurred in Clarke County where the sale of the allegedly defective fertilizer occurred, not in Wilcox County where the plaintiff’s grass was killed.  “The events or omissions giving rise to the claim” refers to the wrongful acts or omissions of the corporate defendant.  In this case, that was the sale of an allegedly defective product.  Finally, the Court held that the cattle farm where the grass died was not the subject of the plaintiff’s action and could not support venue in Wilcox County.  Because venue was not proper there, the Court issued the writ and directed the trial court to transfer the case to Clarke County.