Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Proper Venue for Cases Involving PennDOT As Party Defendant

In the case of Koshinski v. Johnson, PennDOT, et al., No. 2019-CV-1278 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 20, 2020 Nealon, J.), the court sustained Preliminary Objections asserting improper venue in a motor vehicle accident case involving PennDOT.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff, a Dauphin County resident, who was involved in a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Schuylkill County, filed a personal injury action in Lackawanna County against multiple Defendants, including the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

PennDOT filed Preliminary Objections asserting that Lackawanna County was an improper venue under Pennsylvania law.

The court agreed and noted that, based upon 42 Pa. C.S.A. §8523(a) and 37 Pa. Code §111.4(c), the state agency and its employee may only be sued in the county where (1) the cause of action arose, (2) the agency maintains its principal office, or (3) the Commonwealth party’s local office is located for the county in which the cause of action arose.

Judge Nealon, who wrote the Opinion, noted that these possible areas of proper venue for a Commonwealth defendant took precedence even in those cases where, as here, the Plaintiff has asserted joint and several liability against multiple Defendants.

As such, the court sustained the Preliminary Objections filed by PennDOT asserting improper venue and ordered that the action be transferred to Schuylkill County pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1006(e), with the cost associated with the transfer to be borne by the Plaintiff.

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

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