Recent Indiana Supreme Court Opinion Alters the Law of Preferred Venue for Corporate Entities
By: Kopka Pinkus Dolin
“Venue” is a concept that governs in what county a plaintiff can file a lawsuit. Venue is governed by Indiana Trial Rule 75(A) and often there are many counties that might be an appropriate (“preferred”) venue, such as the county where an accident occurred or the county where a defendant resides. When a defendant is a corporate entity, plaintiff lawyers would try to file the lawsuit in the county of the entity’s registered agent, commonly found in a populated urban area such as Marion County, the location of Indianapolis. These dense urban areas are typically comprised of a more diverse population, leading to a potential jury pool that is more liberal than other possible venues.
Fortunately for corporate defendants, this venue option was recently closed by the Indiana Supreme Court in Morrison v. Vazquez, No. 19S-CT-382 (Ind. June 27, 2019). The Indiana Code addressing an entity’s registered agent was recently changed, with Indiana Code § 23-0.5-4-12 stating, “The designation or maintenance in Indiana of a registered agent does not by itself create the basis for personal jurisdiction over the represented entity in Indiana. The address of the agent does not
determine venue in an action or a proceeding involving the entity.” Based on that new language, the Indiana Supreme Court held that the county of an entity’s registered agent can no longer be grounds to claim venue is appropriate in that county.
Bottom line for corporate entities who find themselves named as defendants in litigation: utilizing a registered agent in an urban county no longer provides plaintiffs with the ability select a liberal county for venue.
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