OF JUDGMENT: 12/18/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JAMES T. KITCHENS, JR. JUDGE:
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: C. E. SOREY, II
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: CHARLES EDWIN ROSS
RANDOLPH, P.J., KING AND BEAM, JJ.
This interlocutory appeal presents the Court with the
question of whether, pursuant to Mississippi's venue
statute, a corporation may have only one national principal
place of business or may have a principal place of business
in multiple or all states. Cleveland Smith, a resident of
Lowndes County, filed suit against his employer, Kansas City
Southern Railway Company ("KCS"), in the Lowndes
County Circuit Court. The trial court granted KCS's
Motion for a Change of Venue, holding that, although
KCS's national principal place of business was in Kansas
City, Missouri, KCS also did business in Mississippi and that
its principal place of business in Mississippi was Rankin
County. Because holding that a corporation has a single,
principal place of business follows the plain language of the
statute and promotes simplicity, we reverse the decision of
the trial court and remand the case.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On April 20, 2012, while working as a railroad machine
operator in Sibley, Louisiana, Smith, a KCS employee, had
been standing on a tie-inserter machine when he allegedly
slipped on a sill step and injured his left shoulder.
Smith had been a resident of Columbus, Lowndes County, and on
April 10, 2015, filed a lawsuit against KCS in the Lowndes
County Circuit Court, alleging a violation of the Federal
Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C.
§ 51, et seq., for negligently failing to
provide Smith with a reasonably safe workplace, inter
alia. The complaint stated that KCS was a corporation
"doing business in the State of Mississippi where it has
officers and agents for the usual and customary transaction
of its business. Its principle [sic] place of business is
Kansas City, Missouri."
The Mississippi venue statute, Mississippi Code Section
11-11-3(1), provides in pertinent part:
(1)(a)(i) Civil actions of which the circuit court has
original jurisdiction shall be commenced in the county where
the defendant resides, or, if a corporation, in the county of
its principal place of business, or in the county where a
substantial alleged act or omission occurred or where a
substantial event that caused the injury occurred. . . . .
(b) If venue in a civil action against a nonresident
defendant cannot be asserted under paragraph (a) of this
subsection (1), a civil action against a nonresident may be
commenced in the county where the plaintiff resides or is
Miss. Code Ann. § 11-11-3(1)(a)(i)-(b) (Rev. 2004).
On September 8, 2015, KCS filed a Motion for Change of Venue,
arguing that, for venue purposes, its national principal
place of business was irrelevant, and that the case should be
transferred to its principal place of business in
Mississippi, Rankin County. Thus, KCS contended that
Smith's domicile, Lowndes County, could be an appropriate
venue only if KCS did not have a principal place of business
in Mississippi. Because KCS alleged that it had a second