February 14, 2015 • Legal Terminology
The Ability to Choose a Venue
You are contemplating invoking a lawsuit for an accident case, medical malpractice, or wrongful death. Did you know that sometimes you might have the ability to choose which court you want to bring your lawsuit in the state of New York? This is true, but in some instances, you may not have this ability to choose. This involves state court matters which is distinguished from federal court.
For instance, you received medical care in New York, in Long Island for instance. You live in Nassau County though, and all the treatment happened in Nassau County. In such instance, if you happen to sue a doctor or hospital in Nassau County, then in all likelihood you will not have the opportunity to choose where you want your case to be heard, and you will have to issue the lawsuit in Nassau County.
However, for example, if you are living in Nassau County and you are receiving your medical treatment in Brooklyn, which is in Kings County. If the doctors there have violated the basic standards of care, and you are contemplating initiating a lawsuit for an injury claim, you could file a lawsuit in Kings County, as opposed to submitting the lawsuit in Nassau County.
Why is it Strategically Important?
The question is why anybody would want to do that? Well, the venue is supposed to be a dirty secret that many people do not talk about. The jury, who is going to be sitting and listening to your particular matter, will be made up of people living in those counties. Now, in every county, you have different jury populations. There may be minorities who are more represented in certain counties than in others. This was discussed in the 1990s movie A Time to Kill by Kevin Spacey.
A common thinking amongst lawyers in New York is that minorities tend to do better for injured victims, in terms of compensating them. This is not a very politically correct thing to talk about openly but some people believe politically correctness should be outlawed anyhow. However, there are strategic reasons why an attorney will choose one county over the other.
Determining the Right County
Now, if you have the opportunity to pick which county your case is going to be heard, and you choose the wrong county, then the attorneys representing the people, whom you are suing, will raise the issue of bringing the lawsuit up in the wrong county. The plaintiff’s lawyer will then have to explain to the court why the case was filed in this county, and the judge will have to make a ruling about whether or not they are correct. If the judge finds that it is the wrong county, and the reasons provided by the attorney are not valid, then the case will be transferred to the right county.
Hence, even though you have the ability to choose in certain instances, the venue where your case should be heard, you should be able to provide the court valid reasons for doing the same. It might be a strategic move, but the judge will know this, and unless you provide proper reasons, your case will be transferred back to the right county.