Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Pennsylvania Superior Court Addresses Forum Non Conveniens Doctrine [Non-Precedential]

In the case of Green v. CSX Transp., Inc., No. No. 2218 EDA 2020(Pa. Super. Dec. 21, 2021 Collins, J., DuBow, J., and Murray, J.) (Op. by Collins, J.)[Non-Precedential Decision], the Pennsylvania Superior Court found that a Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for forum non conveniens was valid and should have been granted by the trial court.  

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff, who was a Maryland resident, alleged that he developed cancer from exposure to toxic substances during the course of his employment as a train conductor and brakeman which employment was almost at all of which took place in Maryland.

In its decision, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to have concluded, based upon the availability of remote deposition procedures and other discovery due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that it was no longer material, for forum non conveniens purposes, as to where the actual litigation would be litigated. 

The court stated that reliance upon modern technology to obviate the need for in-person aspects of litigation and trial has been rejected as a justification to deny a Motion to Dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds.

In this case, the court emphasized that the Plaintiff had not worked in Pennsylvania for more than thirty (30) years. As such, any basis for the litigation being conducted more easily here in Pennsylvania was found to be tenuous, at best. 

The also court found that any connection that the Plaintiff had with Pennsylvania was merely transitory and de minimis, as compared to the obvious and more convenient alternate forum.

It was additionally noted by the court that no Pennsylvania fact witnesses had been identified.

In the end, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that, given the clear viability of another state of an alternate forum for the litigation of this case, the appellate court found that it was an abuse of the discretion by the trial court to find to the contrary.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this Non-Precedential decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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