Monday, September 12, 2022

Lawsuit Filed in Lackawanna County Sent to Blair County Under Doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens

In the case of Shaver v. Levelle, No. 21-CV-2465 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Aug. 22, 2022 Nealon, J.), the court addressed forum non conveniens issues in a motor vehicle accident case.

According to the Opinion, a recently relocated Lackawanna County resident sued a Centre County Defendant and his Huntingdon County and Centre County employers as a result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Blair County. 

The Plaintiff sought to recover compensatory and punitive damages for the alleged negligent and reckless acts of the Defendants that resulted in the accident and against the employers for hiring and supervising the motorist and entrusting a tractor trailer to the Defendant driver.

The Defendants provided affidavits from the motorists, his employer, and the investigating officer indicating that Lackawanna County was an oppressive forum that caused great hardship and extreme inconvenience for them due to the significant distance and its adverse impact on their personal and professional responsibilities. The Defendants filed these affidavits in support of a motion pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 1006(d)(1) seeking to transfer venue of this Lackawanna County case to the Blair County Court of Common Pleas on forum non conveniens grounds.

After reviewing a copy of the record before the court, Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas found that record contains sufficient evidence to confirm that the continued litigation of this case in Lackawanna County would be unduly burdensome for the motorists, his employers, and the anticipated witnesses. The court also found that the record established that the litigation of this case in Lackawanna County would significantly disrupt their professional and personal obligations in their counties of residence.

Judge Nealon also noted that Blair County will provide easier access to material witnesses and other sources of proof relative to the liability and punitive damages issues, including a likely site inspection of the scene of the accident.

Therefore, based upon the totality of the circumstances, the court found that Lackawanna County is indeed an oppressive forum for the adjudication for this particular matter. Accordingly, the Motion to Transfer was granted, sending the case to the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County.

The court additionally ruled that, pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 1006(d)(3), any cost or fees associated with the transfer of the record shall be paid by the Defendants.

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

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