Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Superior Court Reverses Trial Courts Granting of Motion To Transfer Venue Under Doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens

It's a Philly Thing.

In the case of Tranter v. Z & D Tour, Inc., No. 1746 EDA 2022 (Pa. Super. Oct. 11, 2023 Panella, P.J., Dubow, J., and Sullivan, J.) (Op. by Dubow, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed a trial court decision and found that the Defendant did not demonstrate valid grounds to support a Petition to Transfer Venue out of Philadelphia County under the doctrine of forum non conveniens

This case arose out of a motor vehicle accident during which a Defendant bus driver was driving 59 passengers on a bus from New York City to Columbus, Ohio and was involved in an accident in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Yet, the lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia County.

At the trial court level, the Defendants filed a Motion to Transfer Venue to Westmoreland County, which motion was granted by the trial court after the court found that potential witnesses would have to travel over 200 miles to Philadelphia to testify. The trial court found that keeping the case in Philadelphia County would have been oppressive and vexatious to certain individuals involved in the litigation.

The Superior Court reversed by finding that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the motion at issue.

The Superior Court noted that, although the defense presented affidavits in support of the claim that Philadelphia County would be oppressive and vexatious venue for certain witnesses, the Defendant’s affidavits did not have any specific statements as to what testimony the affiants would provide that was necessary to the defense of the case. The court noted that most of the affidavits provided by the Defendants were from ambulance drivers, firefighters, paramedics, a deputy coroner, and an insurance claims investigator employed by the Defendant truck company.  The court found that these witnesses were not key witnesses relative to the issues presented.

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

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