Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Preliminary Objections on Jurisdictional Issues Granted in Favor of NJ Defendant Regarding NJ Accident

The common plea court in Monroe County addressed issues of general jurisdiction over a non-resident Defendant in the case of Carpintero v. Aegean Express, Inc., No. 2044-CV-2020 (C.P. Monroe Co. July 16, 2020 Williamson, J.).

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was a passenger on a transport bus traveling from Pennsylvania to New York City. The bus broke down on the highway in New Jersey under dark conditions. It was alleged that the bus did not have any hazard lights or any other reflective devices to alert other drivers to its presence on the roadway.

Another tortfeasor Defendant, was traveling along the highway and, when a third, unidentified vehicle swerved to avoid the bus, the named tortfeasor Defendant lost control of her vehicle and hit the rear of the bus. 

The Plaintiff sued the bus company and that identified tortfeasor. The identified tortfeasor filed Preliminary Objections asserting that the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas could not exercise personal jurisdiction over her because she had no ties to Pennsylvania. According to the Opinion not only did the accident occur in New Jersey but that identified tortfeasor resided in New Jersey. 

Judge David  J. Williamson
Monroe County
Judge Williamson ruled that the basis for exercising jurisdiction over persons outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is found under Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute, 42 Pa. C.S.A.§5322. The court noted that Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute establishes that, in order for a Pennsylvania court to exercise jurisdiction over a foreign party, that foreign party must have some “minimal contacts” with Pennsylvania. 

Finding no such contacts with the Defendant at issue in this matter, the court granted the Preliminary Objections and noted that the fact that the accident involved a bus owned by a Pennsylvania company which bus contained Pennsylvania residents did not constitute sufficient contacts to assert personal jurisdiction over the Defendant at issue. 

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 18, 2020).

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