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Court of Appeals Makes It Difficult to Remove Venue for Motor Carriers

Written by: Sandro Stojanovic, Esq.

Traditionally, motor carriers, as all domestic corporations, have been able to remove the venue to the county in which the corporation maintains its registered office. O.C.G.A. § 14-2-510(b)(1). The Court of Appeals has now made that right frail. In Blakemore v. Dirt Movers, Inc., 344 Ga. App. 238 (2018), the Court of Appeals held that when Plaintiff alleges facts to support venue under O.C.G.A. § 40-1-117(b), the venue against the motor carrier may lie “in the county where the cause of action or some part thereof arose…” The Court then held that if there is a separate basis for venue (such as O.C.G.A. § 40-1-117(b)), the plain language of O.C.G.A. § 14-2-510(b)(4) precludes the motor carrier from removing the case to the county where its principal place of business is located.

A careful reading of Plaintiff’s Complaint may provide grounds for removal, especially where Plaintiff fails to allege facts to support venue under O.C.G.A. § 40-1-117(b). However, given that Plaintiff may amend the Complaint as a matter of course and without leave of court at any time before the entry of a pretrial order, motor carriers’ removal requests may become futile.

The case is Blakemore v. Dirt Movers, Inc., 344 Ga. App. 23, 809 S.E.2d 827 (2018).