Monday, July 10, 2023

Trial Court Order Transferring Venue Under Doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens Reversed

In the case of Ehmer v. Maxim Crane Works, L.P., No. 2431 EDA 2022 (Pa. Super. June 7, 2023 DuBow, J., McLaughlin, J., and McCaffery, J.) (Op. by DuBow, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior reversed a trial court's granting of a Petition to Transfer Venue in a motor vehicle accident case that had been transferred from Philadelphia County to Columbia County.

According to the Opinion, this motor vehicle accident case involved a Columbia County Plaintiff injured in Columbia County. The Plaintiff filed suit in Philadelphia.

The Superior Court initially noted that a trial court Order transferring venue is an interlocutory Order that is appealable as of right.  

In its decision, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a Plaintiff’s choice of forum is entitled to great weight.  Here, the Plaintiff chose to file suit in Philadelphia County over Columbia County.

The court also noted that the party asserting forum non conveniens must create a record before the court demonstrating hardship.

In this matter, the court found that the Affidavit from the witnesses claiming inconvenience failed to indicate what the witnesses’ potential testimony would be.

As such, the Superior Court found that, without evidence of relevance of the potential witness testimony, the trial court abused its discretion in finding that a trial in Philadelphia would pose a hardship to the moving party.

The court additionally noted that, with the sate of modern technology, site visits are rarely the sole means of providing a fact-finder with necessary information about the site of an event. The court also noted that the technology now allows for the quick and easy transfer of medical records such that the initial location of the records is no longer an important factor.

The court additionally stated a Plaintiff’s residence is peripheral to the issues presented and are insufficient, in and of itself to warrant a granting of a Petition for Forum Non Conveniens.

In the end, the Superior Court reversed the trial court's Order transferring the case to Columbia County.    

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this 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.

Source of image:  Photo by Nick Fewings on

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