Code of Civil Procedure section 397(c) motion for change of venue in California

A Code of Civil Procedure section 397(c) motion for change of venue in California is the topic of this blog post.

A motion under Code of Civil Procedure section 397(c) is filed on the grounds that both the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice would be promoted by the change of venue. 

Code of Civil Procedure § 397 states in pertinent part that “The court may, on motion, change the place of trial in the following cases:

(c) When the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice would be promoted by the change.”

A section 397(c) motion for change of venue in California is a very powerful motion if filed in the correct situations as the court has the power to modify the choices of the parties as to where the action should be tried.

Plaintiff may have the right to file wherever venue is considered proper under the relevant venue statutes but the court still has the discretion to order a change of venue if trying the case locally would be seriously inconvenient to the witnesses and defeat the ends of justice.  A motion under section 397(c) can also be used against a defendant who has successfully changed the original venue of the case, in such cases the transferee court has the power to change venue to the original venue or another county altogether so long as the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice would be promoted by the change of venue. 

Any motion for change of venue in California filed under Code of Civil Procedure section 397(c) should not be filed until after an answer to the complaint has been filed so that the court can determine exactly what issues are raised by the complaint and the answer.  

A California Court of Appeal ruled in a published case from over 50 years ago that the term witnesses refers only to witnesses that are not parties to the action and that the only exception to that rule is when a party is so extremely ill or feeble such that travel to a distant county would endanger his or her health.

Note that the motion should be filed within a reasonable period of time after the answer has been filed as the California Supreme Court has ruled that what constitutes a "reasonable" time for filing a motion for change of venue under Code of Civil Procedure § 397 rests largely in the trial court's discretion. See Cooney v. Cooney (1944) 25 Cal.2d 202, 208.

A California Court of Appeal has stated that the convenience of witnesses can be shown by the fact that the residence of all of the witnesses is in the same county to which the transfer is requested.  That same Court of Appeal also stated that the trial court in making a determination that the ends of justice will be promoted by a change of venue can rely not only on the direct facts set forth in the affidavits but can also rely on any reasonable and relevant inferences that arise therefrom.

The scope of a motion for change of venue under section 397 is broad as Section 397 applies to any action or proceeding within its terms . . . even actions under statutes (e.g., FEHA) giving plaintiff the broadest possible choice of venue. See Richfield Hotel Management, Inc. v. Sup.Ct. (Riddell) (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 222, 225.

Attorneys or parties in California who would like to view a portion of a sample 10 page motion for change of venue under CCP section 397(c) containing brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority, sample declaration and proof of service by mail sold by the author can use the link shown below.

Sample Motion for Change of Venue Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 397(c) for California by Stan Burman on Scribd

 

The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.


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DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.