Friday, November 13, 2020

Hershey is the Sweetest Place on Earth For Claims Against Hershey


In the case of Baughman v. Hershey Entertainment and Resort Co., No. 6624-CV-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. Aug. 3, 2020 Zulick, J.), Judge Arthur L. Zulick of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas addressed jurisdictional issues in a case involving a slip and fall by the Plaintiff that occurred at Hershey Park Stadium in Dauphin County. 

Before the court were Preliminary Objections filed by Defendant Hershey asserting that venue was not proper in Monroe County under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. 

The Plaintiffs asserted that venue was proper in Monroe County given that Hershey regularly conducted business in that county and given that the Plaintiff purchased their ticket in Monroe County to attend an event at the Hershey Park Stadium. The Plaintiffs asserted that the purchase of a ticket constituted a transaction or occurrence under which the cause of action arose. 

Judge Zulick noted that, in determining whether a company regularly conducts business in a particular county, the courts employ a quality/quantity analysis. 

Judge Zulick stated that, although Hershey had some contacts with Monroe County, these contacts were not of sufficient quantity for venue purposes. The court noted that Hershey’s total sales in Monroe County constituted only .24% of its total sales. The court relied upon case law holding that sales of less than 1% were not sufficient to confer venue. 

With respect to the Plaintiff’s argument that Monroe County was proper venue as that was where the party’s contract was made by virtue of the Plaintiff purchasing a ticket to the event at the Hershey Stadium in Monroe County, the court noted that, if this matter had involved a contract dispute that factor may have carried more weight. However, since this was a personal injury action, the focus of that analysis was on the place of the fall and not the purchase of the ticket. 

Based upon the above analysis, the court concluded that venue was not proper in Monroe County. As such, the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections were granted and the case was transferred to Dauphin County where the slip and fall had actually occurred. 

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Oct. 27, 2020).

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