Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Pennsylvania Trial Court Dismisses Suit For Auto Accident That Occurred in New York

In her recent decision in the case of Ford v. Leal, No. 3471-CV-2016 (C.P. Monroe Co. Mar. 15, 2018 Harlacher Sibum, J.), Judge Jennifer Harlacher Sibum of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas sustained the Defendants’ Preliminary Objections and dismissed a Plaintiff’s Complaint in an automobile accident case due to lack of In Personam jurisdiction over the Defendants.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiffs were involved in a motor vehicle accident on the New York Thruway in Rockland County, New York.  

The Plaintiff filed suit in Monroe County, Pennsylvania and the Defendants filed Preliminary Objections under Pa.R.C.P. 1028(a)(1) asserting lack of jurisdiction of the Defendants.  

More specifically, the Defendants asserted that the court did not have any personal jurisdiction over the Defendants.   The Defendants asserted that they did not reside or own real property in Pennsylvania, that the subject accident did not occur in Pennsylvania, that the Defendants were not served in Pennsylvania, and that the courts of Pennsylvania lack general jurisdiction and specific personal jurisdiction under the Pennsylvania Long Arm Statute over the Defendants.  

Judge Jennifer Harlacher-Sibum
Monroe County
Judge Harlacher Sibum noted that, according to well-established Pennsylvania case law, an alleged out-of-state automobile accident alone is not enough for a Pennsylvania court to establish personal jurisdiction over a Defendant under the Long Arm Statute, even when the Plaintiff alleges a lasting injury that continues while the Plaintiff resides in Pennsylvania.   See Op. 4 citing with “See” signal DeFay v. McMeekin, 508 A.2d 324 (Pa. Super. 1986) [other citations omitted].  

On the basis of this law, the court found that the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas did not specific personal jurisdiction over the Defendants under Pennsylvania’s Long Arm Statute and, as such, the Complaint was dismissed.  

Anyone wishing to review this decision online may click this LINK.

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