Rule 3. Place of trial or venue.
A. Proper place of trial.
The proper place for the trial of an action is called "venue". There may be one or more proper place(s) for the trial of a particular action, and justice and city courts may have concurrent venue under these rules. The proper place for trial is determined by the type of case or the residence of the defendant. If application of this rule to a particular case produces more than one proper venue, the plaintiff may file the case in any one of the proper venues. If the plaintiff does not file in any proper venue, the defendant may move to dismiss the action under subsection B of this rule. If plaintiff does file in a proper venue, either party may move to change venue under subsection c of this rule.
(1) Residence of Defendant.
(a) Venue is always proper in the county (for justice court actions) or city (city court actions) where the Montana defendant, or any one of the Montana defendants, reside(s) at the time the complaint is filed.
(b) If no defendant resides in Montana at the time the complaint is filed, venue is proper in any county (justice court actions) or city (city court actions) in Montana.
(c) (i) A defendant which is a corporation is a Montana resident if it is incorporated in the state of Montana at the time the complaint is filed. The Montana Secretary of State maintains records of incorporation. If the defendant corporation is incorporated in Montana, it shall be deemed to be a resident of each county (justice court actions) or city (city court actions) in which it has a place of business at the time the complaint is filed.
(ii) For a corporate defendant which is not incorporated in Montana, venue is proper in any county or city in Montana.
(d) If there is more than one defendant, a venue that is proper for any defendant is proper for all defendants, even if that venue would not be proper for one of the defendants if sued alone. If an action with two or more defendants is brought in a venue which is not proper for any of the defendants, any of the defendants may move to dismiss the action, without prejudice, for improper venue under Rule 3B.
(2) Additional Proper Venues.
In addition to the county or city of a defendant's residence as set forth in subsection (1), venue is proper as follows:
(a) Actions based on contract or other obligation. When the defendant or all of the defendants reside in a county other than that in which the right of action accrues and the action is for damages for violation of an express or implied contract or for money due on an express or implied contract, debt, note, or account, the action also may be commenced and, subject to the provisions of Rule 3C, may be tried in the county or city in which the contract or obligation must be performed. Unless the contract specifically provides otherwise, the place of performance of the contract or obligation is the county or city in which the payment was to be due or the act constituting the obligation was to be performed.
(b) Actions for damages for injury to person or property. When the action is for damages for injury to person or property, the action also may be commenced and, subject to the provisions of Rule 3C, may be tried, in the county or city where the injury was incurred.
(c) Actions for taking or recovery of personal property. When the action is for the recovery of personal property or its value or for damages for taking or detaining the personal property, the action also may be commenced and, subject to the provisions of Rule 3C, may be tried, in the county or city in which all or any part of the property is found, or in the county or city in which all or any part of the property was taken.
(d) Actions for forcible entry or unlawful detainer. An action for the recovery of the possession of real property may be commenced in the county or city in which all or any part of the real property affected by the action is situated.
B. Improper Place of Trial.
(1) Dismissal. When the county or city in which the complaint is filed is not the proper venue, and any party moves for dismissal because of the improper venue, the court must dismiss the complaint without prejudice. Any motion for dismissal for improper venue under this subsection must be made at least ten days before trial, or it is waived. A complaint dismissed because of improper venue may be refiled in another county or city upon the payment of the filing fee. If a complaint is filed in an improper venue and is subsequently dismissed under this subsection, the applicable statute of limitations stops running on the date the complaint is filed, and restarts thirty (30) days after the service on the opposing party of the order of dismissal.
(2) Consideration of Venue on Appeal. If a party moves to dismiss a complaint because of improper venue, and the motion is denied, the case shall continue through judgment.
C. Change of Venue.
(1) When change of venue permitted. At any time more than ten days before trial, any party may move for and the court may order a change in the place of trial when it appears to the satisfaction of the judge before whom the action is then pending:
(a) by affidavit of either party, that the judge is a material witness for either party;
(b) that, based on affidavit, a jury has been demanded and one or more of the part(y)ies cannot have a fair and impartial trial because of the bias or prejudice of the prospective jurors;
(c) that the judge is disqualified from acting pursuant to Supreme Court rule published at Title 3, chapter 1, part 8, M.C.A.; or
(d) that the judge is sick or unable to act.
(2) Where action to be transferred. When the court orders the place of trial to be changed, the action shall be transferred for trial to a court mutually agreeable to the parties or, if they do not agree, to the nearest appropriate court in which the judge agrees to accept the case.
(3) Papers to be transmitted. After an order has been made transferring the action or proceeding to another court for trial and on payment by the applying party of all accrued costs, the judge ordering the transfer shall immediately transmit to the judge of the court to which the trial is transferred the pleadings and all papers in the action, together with a certified transcript from the docket of the proceedings. The court to which the case is transferred must not charge any additional filing fee.
(4) Jurisdiction of transferee court. From the time the order changing the place of trial is made, the court to which the action or proceeding is transferred has the same jurisdiction over it as though it had been originally commenced in that court.
(5) Notice of time and place of trial -- pleading. On receipt of the papers, pleadings, and transcripts, the judge of the court to which the action or proceeding is transferred shall issue a notice stating the time and place of the trial and mail the notice to the parties at least 10 days before the time fixed for trial. If the defendant has not filed an answer, the court shall order an answer to be filed within 10 days.