Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Proper Venue in a Medical Malpractice Claim

In the case of Kellock v. Wilkes-Barre Hospital Company, LLC, No. 17-CV-4655 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 20, 2018 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed Preliminary Objections filed by hospital Defendants in a medical malpractice action in which the Defendants asserted improper venue of the case. 

According to the Opinion, the hospital Defendants were relying upon Pa. R.C.P. 1006(a.1), which provides that a medical professional liability action may be brought “only in a county in which the cause of action arose.” 

The Defendant hospitals asserted that, according to the allegations of the Plaintiff’s Complaint, the negligent acts and/or omissions occurred in Luzerne County and that Lackawanna County, where this case was filed, only had tangential or peripheral contact with the tort claims.  

The court reviewed the allegations before it and noted that the Plaintiff’s Complaint asserted negligent acts against the Luzerne County healthcare professionals with regards to the birth of the Plaintiff’s child.   However, the Plaintiffs also alleged that, after their newborn was transferred to the Lackawanna County hospital within 4 ½ hours of birth, the Lackawanna County medical professionals also allegedly deviated from the standard of care pertaining to the additional treatment provided.  

Based upon the allegations in the Plaintiff’s Complaint, Judge Nealon found that negligent healthcare services were allegedly also furnished in Lackawanna County such that the malpractice cause of action against the Lackawanna County hospital arose in the form of Lackawanna County. 

The court went on to note that, pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 1006(c)(2), provides that an action seeking to enforce joint and several liability against multiple Defendants may be brought in any county in which venue is proper against any one Defendant.  

Accordingly, the court ruled that, since venue was proper in Lackawanna County as to the Lackawanna County Defendants, and given that the Plaintiffs have asserted joint and several liability against the Luzerne County and Lackawanna County Defendants, venue was found to be proper in Lackawanna County for all Defendants under the rules stated above.   

Consequently, the court overruled the Defendants’ Preliminary Objections asserting improper venue. 

 Anyone wishing to review this case may click this LINK.

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