Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Philadelphia County Court Transfers Venue of Products Liability Case to Bucks County

In the case of Watson v. Baby Trend, Inc., Aug. Term 2021, Case No. 210802189 (C.P. Phila. Co. Dec. 16, 2022 Cohen, J.), the court filed a Rule 1925 Opinion requesting the Superior Court to affirm the trial court’s granting of a Defendant corporation’s Preliminary Objections asserting improper venue in Philadelphia County.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff filed this products liability lawsuit alleging that their 11 month old child died while in a car seat manufactured by the Defendant.

The Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in Philadelphia County. The Defendant filed Preliminary Objections to the Complaint and sought to transfer venue from Philadelphia County to Bucks County.

After allowing for discovery on the issue, the court sustained the Preliminary Objections and issued and Order transferring the case to Bucks County. 

The Plaintiffs filed an appeal, which prompted the trial court to issue this Rule 1925 Opinion. In this Opinion, the court in Watson stated that, while a Plaintiff’s choice of forum is to be given great weight, that choice is not absolute. The court noted that, under Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 2179, personal injury action against the corporation or a similar entity may be brought in a county where that Defendant regularly conducts business.

Under the applicable law, when determining whether venue is proper in this type of case against a corporation, the courts are required to apply a quality/quantity analysis.

After reviewing the record, the court noted that the Defendant’s direct to consumer sales in Philadelphia represented just .0018% of the company’s total 2021 sales and that the company otherwise sold their product through big box retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, and Amazon.

The court found that the Defendant corporation did not otherwise have any direct connection with Philadelphia County and did not maintain any places of business in the city or even in the state of Pennsylvania. It was additionally noted that the company did not buy any products or material from any Pennsylvania vendors.

According to the trial court, the company’s activities within Philadelphia failed to meet both the quality and quantity prongs of the venue analysis. Consequently, the court found that venue was not proper in its jurisdiction.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 28, 2023).

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