MOUNTAIN VIEW RECREATION, INC., d/b/a Mountain View Recreation Center, Appellant,
IMPERIAL COMMERCIAL COOKING EQUIPMENT CO.; Harmony Fire Protection, Inc.; and Heritage Operating, L.P., Respondents.
Lewis & Roca, LLP, and Daniel F. Polsenberg and Joel D. Henriod, Las Vegas; McDonald & McCabe, LLC, and Thomas A. McDonald, David R. Butzen, Michael P. Rohan, and Terry L. Welch, Chicago, Illinois, for Appellant.
Lemons, Grundy & Eisenberg and Robert L. Eisenberg, Reno, for Respondent Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment Co.
Lincoln, Gustafson & Cercos and Nicholas B. Salerno and James M. Barrington, Las Vegas, for Respondent Harmony Fire Protection, Inc.
Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman, LLP, and Janice M. Michaels and T. Blake Gross, Las Vegas, for Respondent Heritage Operating, L.P.
BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.
This appeal arises from the district court's grant of a motion to change venue from Nye County to Clark County. The district court granted the motion based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens and its findings that existing courtroom facilities in Pahrump, located in Nye County, were inadequate to accommodate a trial in the underlying matter. We conclude that the district court abused its discretion bye granting the motion for change of venue because it (1) failed to cite sufficient evidence supporting a change
of venue pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens; (2) failed to conduct a proper analysis, under NRS 3.100(2) and Angell v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 108 Nev. 923, 839 P.2d 1329 (1992), as expanded by this opinion, regarding the adequacy of courtroom facilities in a county; and (3) failed to consider the docket congestion in Clark County before reaching its decision. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 2003, a fire destroyed the Mountain View Recreation Center in Pahrump, Nevada. The fire allegedly started when a deep fat fryer overheated and the building's sprinkler system failed to extinguish the fire. In December 2005, appellant Mountain View Recreation, Inc., which owned and operated the recreation center, filed a complaint in Nye County against numerous defendants, including respondents Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment Co., which manufactured the fryer, Heritage Operating, L.P. (Proflame), which provided propane fuel to Mountain View and serviced the fryer, and Harmony Fire Protection, Inc., which designed and installed the building's sprinkler system.
In February 2010, Proflame filed a motion for change of venue from Nye County to Clark County, which was joined by Harmony. Proflame argued that finding an impartial jury in Pahrump was " highly unlikely" in light of the pretrial publicity and the community's connection to the recreation center,  and that a trial in Las Vegas, located in Clark County, would be more convenient for the witnesses and would better serve the ends of justice. Without providing any evidence to support its latter argument, Proflame asserted that (1) the majority of the pretrial litigation and discovery, including most of the depositions, had taken place in Las Vegas; (2) the physical evidence, the special master, and the majority of counsel were located in Las Vegas; (3) any experts located outside of Pahrump would have to travel through Las Vegas to attend court proceedings in Pahrump; (4) the majority of Mountain View's witnesses would not have to travel from Pahrump to Las Vegas; and (5) the transfer would not require reassignment to a Clark County district court judge because the Nevada Supreme Court had appointed the currently presiding senior judge. Mountain View opposed the motion, arguing that Proflame had failed to provide any affidavits or evidence in support of its argument that transferring the matter to Clark County would be more convenient for the witnesses and would better serve the ends of justice.
At a hearing on the motion, the district court declined to change venue based on the potential inability to seat an impartial jury, but nonetheless indicated that the trial could not be held in Pahrump because existing courtroom facilities were inadequate and NRCP 41(e)'s five-year want-of-prosecution rule would require dismissal of the action in December 2010. In response to the district court's concerns, Mountain View argued that Nye County was required to provide facilities for trial in Pahrump and suggested substitute locations such as a banquet room or school. Mountain View alternatively asked that, if the trial was moved from Pahrump, it be transferred to Tonopah, also located in Nye County, rather than to Las Vegas. The ...