Thursday, May 9, 2019

Philadelphia County Court Grants Forum Non Conveniens Motion Regarding Case with New York Facts


In the case of Zevola v. B. Braun Medical, Inc., May Term 2017, No. 4162, 2011 EDA 2018 (C.P. Phila. Co. Feb. 14, 2019 New, J.), the court granted a Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss a Plaintiff’s products liability suit filed in Philadelphia County under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.  

According to the Opinion, this matter involved a plaintiff who was a resident of New York, and who underwent surgery in New York for the implantation of the product medical device at issue in the case.  The product involved was manufactured by a company located in France.  

The court acknowledged that, under a forum non conveniens analysis, a plaintiff’s choice for forum should not be disturbed except for weighty reasons.  The court also noted that there must be an alternative forum available to the plaintiff such that the action could be transferred.   As part of the analysis, the trial court is required to examine public and private interests to determine whether reasons exist to overcome the plaintiff’s chosen forum.  

In this matter, the court noted that an application of these factors and interests weighed in favor of dismissing the action. 

In so ruling, the court stated that deference to the plaintiff’s chosen forum was less stringently applied in this matter given that the Plaintiff was not a Pennsylvania resident.   It was additionally noted that the surgery involving the implantation of the medical device did not occur in Pennsylvania. Rather, the plaintiff’s alleged injury from the device was discovered in New York by the plaintiff’s New York doctors.   Accordingly, the key witnesses and evidence were located in New York.  

In the end, the court held in this Rule 1925 Opinion that the important aspects of the case were clearly outside of Pennsylvania and, given that there was an alternative forum available to the Plaintiff, the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss based upon the doctrine of forum non conveniens had been granted and should be upheld on appeal before the Superior Court. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 26, 2019). 

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