Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Denial of Motion To Transfer Venue Affirmed On Appeal

All in all, they'd rather be in Philadelphia

In the case of Ritchey v. Rutter’s Inc., No. 2219 EDA 2020 (Pa. Super. Oct. 20, 2022 Dubow, J., Pellegrini, J., Lazarus, J.) (Op. by Lazarus, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a trial court properly denied Defendants’ Motion to Transfer Venue on the basis of the doctrine of forum non conveniens because, although the Defendant showed inconvenience with the venue selected by the Plaintiff, there was no showing of oppressiveness.   

The Pennsylvania Superior Court also found that there was no evidence that the trial court’s decision rose to the level of overriding or misapplying the law.  The Superior Court also found that the trial court’s decision was not manifestly unreasonable. 

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff resided in Cumberland County and the Defendant Pennsylvania Corporation had its principle place of business place of business in York and regularly conducted business in Philadelphia.   

This case arose out of a motor vehicle accident.  The Plaintiff was treated in Dauphin County, Philadelphia County, and Cumberland County.  The Plaintiff filed suit in Philadelphia.   

Under Pa. R.C.P. 2179, a corporate Defendant may be sued in any county in which it regularly conducts business.   

The Defendant in this matter filed a Motion to Transfer Venue from Philadelphia County to either Cumberland or York County under Pa. R.C.P. 1006(d)(1).   The Defendant attached twenty (20) witness affidavits to its motion confirming that venue in Philadelphia would be a “great hardship.”   

When the trial court denied the Motion to Transfer, the Defendant appealed.  As noted, the per Superior Court upheld the trial court’s decision.   

In upholding the denial of the motion, the appellate court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Motion to Transfer where there is evidence that two (2) eyewitnesses to the accident noted their willingness to travel to Philadelphia to testify where the Plaintiff received three (3) months of medical care in Philadelphia County, and where the Defendants’ affidavits asserting inconvenience amounted to nothing more than a superficial showing of inconvenience.   

Also, with respect to any hardship, the Pennsylvania Superior Court noted that, in this day and age, technology to conduct remote depositions and/or to gather witness statements had become a vital and regular component of pre-trial discovery in civil litigation matters.   

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

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 8, 2022).   

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