Yarbrough v. Super. Ct. (Roberts Enters., Inc.) – 11/6/2006

November 8, 2006

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two Grants Special Action Relief to Clarify Statutory Options for Change of Venue for Claims Brought Against a County.

Petitioner brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Santa Cruz County and other defendants. The case was initially filed in Santa Cruz County, pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-401 (15) (requiring actions against a county to be brought in the county sued). Petitioner then moved for a change of venue pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-408 (allowing change of venue to “some other county” by party opponent of county sued) and sought to have the case transferred to Pima County. The judge, however, instead ordered a change of venue to Pinal County. Petitioner filed a special action with the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction and remanded for a determination of what alternative venue would be “the most convenient county . . . to which the objections of the parties do not apply or are least applicable” pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-411(B). The court rejected both petitioner’s argument that the venue should be changed “to the most convenient adjoining county” pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-407(A), and respondent’s argument that, whenever possible, the change of venue should be to a new venue that would have been proper initially under § 12-401. Instead, the court held, § 12-411(B) provides the proper guidance for the trial court’s discretion in deciding which alternative venue is proper.

Chief Judge Pelander wrote the opinion; Presiding Judge Joseph W. Howard and Judge Espinosa concurred.