Missouri Supreme Court to hear venue case involving out of state tort defendant.

September 7, 2017

The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ on August 22, 2017 in State ex rel. Valley Hope Association v. Youngs, SC96356. The case has not yet been scheduled for argument.

The case is expected to clarify venue rules in tort cases involving an out-of-state defendant with a registered agent in Missouri. The plaintiff, Robert Cox (Cox), received services from Valley Hope at its Kansas facility and was subsequently injured when a laptop with confidential patient information was stolen from an employee of the defendant Valley Hope Association (Valley Hope).  Cox sued Valley Hope in Cooper County.  Valley Hope argued that venue should be St. Louis County, where it has its registered agent. Cox requested a change in venue to Jackson County for convenience of the parties.  The trial court transferred the case to Jackson County.

In its writ petition, Valley Hope argued that the trial court was required to transfer venue to St. Louis County because section 508.010.5 provides that, for tort actions involving an out-of-state injury, venue “shall” be in the county where the out-of-state corporate defendant has its registered agent.  Valley Hope also claimed that the trial court was required to transfer the case to St. Louis County because, under section 508.010.10, its motion to transfer for improper venue was deemed granted when the trial court did not rule on the motion within 90 days after it was filed.

Cox argued that section 508.010.5 is inapplicable because Cox was first injured in Missouri, where he paid for Valley Hope’s services, not in Kansas, where the services were rendered.  Cox also claimed that, even if the case involves an out-of-state injury, section 508.010.5 permits venue in St. Louis County or in Jackson County, where Cox resided at all relevant times.

Cox is represented by Matthew Dameron of Williams Dirks Dameron (https://www.williamsdirks.com).  Valley Hope is represented by Steven Schwartz of Brown & James, P.C. (www.brownjames.com).