Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Application of Doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens to Bounce a Case Out of Philadelphia Affirmed

In the case of Smith v. CMS West, Inc., No. 1002-EDA-2022 (Pa. Super. Oct. 30, 2023 Bowes, J., Stabile, J., and Pelligrini, J.) (Op. by Stabile, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed an Order entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County transferring a construction accident case from Philadelphia County to Butler County under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was allegedly injured while working at a construction site in Butler, Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the Plaintiffs filed suit in Philadelphia County.

Various Defendants filed Preliminary Objections challenging both personal jurisdiction and venue. Most of the Preliminary Objections filed by the Defendants were overruled. Thereafter, other Defendants jointly filed a Petition to Transfer Venue under the doctrine of forum non conveniens pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 1006(d)(1), seeking a transfer of the case to Butler County.

According to the Opinion, the Defendants produced affidavits/certifications of four (4) witnesses who all explained that traveling from Butler County to Philadelphia County would present as a hardship.

The Plaintiff was permitted to submit three (3) deposition transcripts and an affidavit to establish that Philadelphia was a more convenient forum.

After considering the entire record, the trial court found that the certain witnesses identified in the Petition for Transfer would suffer substantial hardships both on a monetary basis and/or due to medical reasons.

The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s decision that Philadelphia County was an oppressive and vexatious forum in the context of this particular case. As such, as ordered by the trial court, the case was transferred to Butler County.

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

Source: Article: “Superior Court Breaks String of Plaintiff-Side Forum Rulings, Upholding Case’s Move From Phila.” by Aleeza Furman of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 1, 2023).

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