When you file a lawsuit in the state of Arizona, you must file it in the proper venue and have personal jurisdiction over the defendant. But even if you get that right, the doctrine of forum non conveniens can get the lawsuit transferred to a court in another state or country if that alternative forum is substantially more convenient.
A.R.S. § 12-401, et seq., is Arizona’s venue provision. In general, a case may be filed in any county in which a defendant resides. If the case is based on a contract, the proper venue can also be the county in which the contract was executed. If real estate is the subject of the lawsuit, the case should be filed in the county in which the real estate is located. Venue, however, is waivable, which means that the lawsuit can proceed in an improper venue if no parties object.
Personal jurisdiction, codified by rule 4.2(a) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, is based on constitutional due process. The idea is that defendants should not be forced to appear in an Arizona court unless they have sufficient connections to the state. The most common basis for personal jurisdiction is that the defendant resides or does business in Arizona. But personal jurisdiction also extends to non-residents who are served with the lawsuit while physically present in the state or who have such “minimum contacts” with the state that they can reasonably expect to be forced into an Arizona court. Examples of sufficient minimum contacts may include:
- An individual or business who advertises or otherwise solicits customers in the state by telephone or direct mail campaigns.
- A business that provides online goods or services either takes online orders from state residents or has paid subscribers who are state residents.
Finally, under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, even if you file a business lawsuit in the appropriate venue and there is personal jurisdiction over the defendant, a party can still ask that the suit be transferred to another court in another jurisdiction—even in another state our country—if that forum is significantly more convenient for the parties. For example, are all of the documents and witnesses in, say, Canada? It is a heavy burden and courts require evidence that the convenience factors weigh heavily in favor of the alternative forum.
The proper venue and jurisdiction for your business lawsuit can be a crucial decision. When you are facing any type of business dispute, you need an experienced Arizona trial attorney to get you the best result possible. Contact Williams Commercial Law Group, L.L.P., at (602) 256-9400 today, and set up an appointment to speak with us about your case.