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Court Cannot Transfer to Another Venue Merely Because Prior Litigation Occurred in the Prior Venue

DiNapoli v. Kent Island, LLC,
No. 2506 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. March 1, 2012)

by Gregory L. Arbogast, Associate
Semmes, Bowen & Semmes (www.semmes.com)

In DiNapoli v. Kent Island, LLC, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals vacated the trial court’s order to transfer venue and remanded the case to the venue of original filing, Queen Anne’s County. The Court of Special Appeals held that the trial court erred because its only reason for transferring the case to Anne Arundel County was that prior litigation concerning the same subject matter was heard in Anne Arundel County. The Court of Special Appeals found that the venue statutes do not provide for venue based solely on prior related litigation.

DiNapoli is the second of a pair of related cases. In the first case, which was heard in Anne Arundel County, Kent Island brought an action against Queen Anne’s County, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Queen Anne’s County Sanitary Commission for a Writ of Mandamus directing the Defendants to provide Kent Island water and sewer services. The parties settled that case. The Court entered a Consent Order reflecting the settlement agreement.

After the parties settled the original case, Michael DiNapoli, Janet DiNapoli, Leland Brendsel, B. Diane Brendsel, Daniel T. Hopkins, Richard M. Markman, and the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, Inc. (“Plaintiffs”) filed suit in Queen Anne’s County contesting the Consent Order in the original litigation. Since the original litigation occurred in Anne Arundel County, Defendants moved to have the case transferred to Anne Arundel County. The Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County granted the motion and transferred the case to Anne Arundel County. Plaintiffs appealed.

The Court of Special Appeals assessed whether the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County erred by transferring the case. The Court of Special Appeals looked to the venue statute, MD. CODE ANN., CTS. & JUD. PROC. § 6-201, to determine whether prior related litigation was sufficient grounds to transfer a case. The Court of Special Appeals found that venue for the second litigation was proper in Queen Anne’s County because all litigants resided in Queen Anne’s County. Venue, however, was not proper in Anne Arundel County, because none of the litigants resided in Anne Arundel County. The only tie that the case had to Anne Arundel County was the prior related litigation. The venue statutes, however, do not permit transfer of venue merely because a different venue heard a prior related case. Therefore, the Court of Special Appeals overturned the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County.


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