Despite Mandatory Language In the Statute Requiring that an Action Against a School District Be Brought in the County Where the School District Is Located, the Court Has the Discretion to Grant a Motion for a Change of Venue Based Upon the Convenience of Material Witnesses and the Absence of Prejudice to the School District
The Second Department determined that, despite the mandatory language of CPLR 504, a change of venue based upon the convenience of witness was appropriate in an action against a school district:
CPLR 504 provides, in relevant part, that “the place of trial of all actions against . . . school districts . . . shall be . . . in the county in which such . . . school district . . . is situated” (CPLR 504…). “The purpose of CPLR 504, which applies not just to school districts but also to counties, cities, towns, and villages, is to protect municipal entities and their employees from the inconvenience of an alternative venue … . “Nevertheless, and despite the seemingly unforgiving language of the statute, venue may be changed to a non-mandated county upon a showing of special circumstances” … . The decision of whether to grant a change of venue is committed to the providently exercised discretion of the trial court … .
Here, the plaintiff established that the convenience of material witnesses and the ends of justice outweigh the asserted governmental inconvenience … . The plaintiff produced the affirmations from his treating physicians, both of whom maintain a surgical practice in Kings County, and an affidavit from an eyewitness to the accident, who resides in Kings County … . Each prospective witness disclosed the facts underlying his proposed testimony and asserted that he will be inconvenienced if the trial were conducted in Suffolk County rather than in Kings County … . The defendant, however, did not assert that any of its employees witnessed the accident … . Furthermore, the defendant failed to establish that any of its trial witnesses would be inconvenienced by traveling to Kings County. Accordingly, the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying the plaintiff's motion pursuant to CPLR 510(3) to change the venue of the action from Suffolk County to Kings County. Xhika v Rocky Point Union Free School Dist, 2015 NY Slip OP 00874,d 2nd Dept 2-4-15