Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Eastern District Products Liability Case Transferred to Western District as Proper Venue

In the products liability case of Kershner v. Komatsu Ltd., No. 17-CV-4787 (E.D. Pa. April 10, 2018 Rufe, J.), the Eastern District Federal Court of Pennsylvania granted a Defendant’s Motion to Transfer Venue to the Western District Court of Pennsylvania where the court found that the Eastern District lacked personal jurisdiction over the Defendants and where more convenient access to the evidence and witnesses weighed in favor of the transfer.  

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was working as a bulldozer operator on a pipeline project in Ohio. The Plaintiff was injured when he attempted to exit his bulldozer.   The bulldozer was manufactured by the Defendant.

The Plaintiff was initially transported to a hospital for treatment in Wheeling, West Virginia.  He was then later transferred to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he spent two (2) weeks in recovery.  The Plaintiff was then transferred to a healthcare facility in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, near his home to further recuperate. 

The Plaintiff initially filed this action in state court in Philadelphia County.  The Defendants removed the case to Eastern District Federal Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction and then filed the Motion to Transfer Venue to the Western District Federal Court.  

The court in the Eastern District first ruled that the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was not a proper venue given that the Defendant and its affiliates did not “reside” in the district.  The Defendants also did not have sufficient minimum contacts to warrant the exercise of long-arm jurisdiction as none of the events given rise to the causation of action occurred in the Eastern District, nor were any witnesses or evidence located in the Eastern District.  

Given that the Plaintiff spent a significant amount of time receiving treatment for his injuries in the Western District of Pennsylvania, and given that many of his medical records would be located in that district, was found to weigh in favor of the transfer of the matter.   The court noted that other practical considerations such as the location of witnesses and evidence in or near the Western District supported a finding that more convenience to the parties would result by a transfer to the Western District Court.  As such, the Motion to Transfer was granted. 

The Court's Opinion can be viewed at this LINK.

The companion Order in this case can be viewed HERE.

Source:  "Digest of Recent Cases."  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (April 24, 2018).

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