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The Difference between Venue and Jurisdiction in Civil Litigation

Civil litigation is a complex matter, and is not available simply because a victim has been wronged. In order to have a proper lawsuit (even for personal injury or wrongful death), the victim must have personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, and proper venue in order to sustain a defendant’s motion to dismiss.

A motion to dismiss is the opponent’s formal request to dismiss a case. Reasons for dismissal vary from voluntary settlement, to procedural defects such as lack of jurisdiction or a failure to state a claim. For the person bringing the lawsuit (the plaintiff), some of the key procedural requirements that must be met for any lawsuit to go forth are described below.

What is Venue?

Venue is simply where a lawsuit may be filed, or the proper or most convenient location for a case. Venue is a creature of statute, and is generally based on the residence of the defendant, residence of the victim, or where the cause of action arose (ie. scene of the accident). Venue can encompass a district, state, or federal court.

In Tennessee, the common law remains codified at Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-4-101(b). It says that if the plaintiff and defendant reside in the same county, venue is set there or where the cause of action arose.

For lawsuits against entities such as corporations who are not natural persons, Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-4-104 limits venue to:

  • The county where cause of action arose;
  • The county where a Tennessee company/entity maintains its principal office; or
  • The Tennessee county where a company’s statutory agent resides.

However, if you are filing a lawsuit against the Secretary of State, you may file your suit in any Tennessee county or his/her home county.

What is Jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction may be broken down into two categories: personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction.

Personal jurisdiction is the constitutional requirement that a defendant have certain minimum contacts with the forum in which the court sits so that the court may exercise power over the defendant. Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-2-223 specifies when a court can exercise power over a defendant based on his/her conduct.

Subject matter jurisdiction refers to a specific court’s authority to even hear the case. It is based on the nature of the lawsuit (the specific claim that is brought) and the remedy sought. It may not be waived.

Nashville Personal Injury and Workplace Injury Lawyers

At the law firm of Calhoun Law, PLC in Nashville, we are here to answer your questions on personal injury law and civil litigation principles. We will look through everything in your case carefully to give you the best legal options to fight the defendant’s motion to dismiss as efficiently as possible. Our goal is to maximize your recovery. If you or a loved one has been injured by someone’s negligence, contact our law office today for a free and private consultation.

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