Law School Case Brief
Underwood v. Lane Mem'l Hosp. - 714 So. 2d 715 (La. 1998)
Ancillary venue applies when separate claims involving common or identical questions of fact share no common venue. The concept of ancillary venue allows such claims to be tried together for reasons of judicial economy and efficiency, even though venue is not proper technically for one claim or one party.
In April 1993, plaintiff’s son, Frederick Underwood, broke his leg in a football game held during his physical education class. Frederick was admitted to Lane Memorial Hospital. Early the next day, he experienced respiratory problems which worsened and culminated in his death that afternoon. In March 1994, plaintiffs filed a petition for damages against Lane Memorial under La. Rev. Stat. 40:1299.39.1. After the medical review panel rendered a decision, Underwood's parents filed the present suit in East Feliciana Parish in September 1996, naming both political subdivisions of the state as defendants. Lane Memorial excepted to the suit on the grounds of improper venue. Relying on La. Rev. Stat. 13:5104B, which provides that suits against a political subdivision must be filed in the parish in which the political subdivision is located or the parish in which the cause of action arises, Lane Memorial contended that venue was proper as to the medical malpractice action only in East Baton Rouge Parish, because it was located there and because all of the negligent acts or omissions alleged in the pleadings occurred there. The trial court sustained the exception of improper venue and dismissed plaintiffs' actions against Lane Memorial without prejudice. Plaintiffs challenged the decision.
Was it proper to dismiss the case on the ground that it was filed in an improper venue?
The Court reversed the lower court’s decision, finding that although there was no parish of proper venue for both defendants under a literal reading of La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:5104B, the venue provision for political subdivisions, ancillary venue was proper in light of the "unprovided for" situation not contemplated by the legislature. The Court found that policy considerations of judicial efficiency and the just and proper adjudication of claims for indemnification cried out for ancillary venue as to solidary obligors under the same operative facts in intertwined actions. It held that otherwise properly cumulated actions against two political subdivisions arising out of the same transaction or occurrence were properly brought in one of the two specified parishes of proper venue for either of the political subdivisions, but in no other parish.
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