I occasionally get calls from businesses outside of the Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest area but have received a summons in many surrounding counties. These small business owners want to know if they can change the venue to the county in which they reside.
Change of venue basics in North Carolina
Generally, North Carolina allows plaintiffs to file their lawsuit in any county where any of the plaintiffs or defendants reside. The law defines residency under three requirements. These are: where the business is located, maintains a headquarters, or is regularly engaged in business. There are exceptions to this rule, however, that a business lawyer can help identify depending on the type of claim.
Can the defendant change the venue if the Plaintiffs file in their home county? What if you, as the defendant small business, have no contacts? North Carolina law permits a change in venue if “the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice” are promoted. In other words, venue changes are legal, but only if witnesses can easily commute, and the judge can hand down a just verdict. This is determined on a case by case basis.
Additionally, the rules on venue do not preclude out of state businesses from defending lawsuits based on lack of jurisdiction. For example, if a defendant contends that the state does not have the authority to hear a lawsuit against them. But increasing globalization complicates traditional jurisdiction laws. It’s difficult to claim that your business doesn’t have state ties if it attempts to market or sell products there.
We can help.
Are you facing litigation in Wake, Johnston, Granville or another county near Raleigh or Clayton? Contact Maginnis Howard to discuss venue options for your case. If the case must remain here in the Triangle region, our firm’s attorneys would be happy to assist you. Contact the firm at (919) 526-0450 to discuss your claim or through our contact page.