Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court decided Cleveland Smith v. Kansas City Southern Railway Company.     Cleveland Smith filed suit against his employer Kansas City R.R. for an on-the-job injury he suffered in Sibley, LA.   He filed suit in Lowndes County where he resided (pursuant to 11-11-3(1)(b) allowing suit to be filed where the plaintiff lives if the defendant is a nonresident and does not have a principal place of business in Mississippi).  Kansas City moved for a change of venue and the trial court granted it holding that, although Kansas City’s  national principal place of business was in Kansas City, Missouri, it also did business in Mississippi and that its principal place of business in Mississippi was Rankin County.  Smith filed an interlocutory appeal which was granted.  The Court reversed finding that:
"We now find that a corporation may have only one principal place of business. Holding that the Legislature intended the venue statute to apply to a corporation’s principal place of business inside Mississippi would require analyzing in each case how much of a presence a foreign business has to have in Mississippi to have a principal place of business both inside Mississippi and nationally. Additionally, if any business with an office in Mississippi can be considered to have a principal place of business inside the state, that interpretation would render Section 11-11-3(1)(b) venue in the county of the plaintiff’s residence or domicile, virtually irrelevant. If the Legislature had intended for a foreign corporation to have a principal place of business inside the state, it easily could have clearly stated that in the statute."

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