Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Notable Superior Court Decision Granting Preliminary Objections on Venue Issues in a Philadelphia County Case

Philadelphia Skyline

In the case of Watson v. Baby Trend, No. 2356 EDA 2022 (Pa. Super. Jan. 12, 2024 Stabile, J., Dubow, J., and Sullivan, J.) (Op. by Dubow, J.), the court affirmed a trial court’s sustaining of a Defendant’s Preliminary Objections to venue and the transfer of the case from Philadelphia County to Bucks County in a products liability case.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiffs’ infant daughter died allegedly due to asphyxiation while sleeping in a car seat manufactured by Baby Trend.

The Plaintiffs had purchased the car seat from Babies R Us.

The Defendant at issue, Baby Trend, was a California based corporation with no registered offices in Pennsylvania.

The Plaintiffs reside in Bucks County and the incident occurred in Bucks County.

According to the Opinion, the Defendant, Baby Trend, had no physical presence or authorized dealer in Philadelphia County.

In attempting to keep the case in Philadelphia County, the Plaintiff argued that Baby Trend regularly conducted business in Philadelphia County because it derived 5% of its gross national sales from the city. That calculation by the Plaintiff included sales conducted through big-box retailers, which made up the vast majority of the California Defendant’s business.

The Superior Court ruled, however, that big-box sales should not be included in the calculation of a company’s business within a given county. The court ruled that, once the Defendant in this case sold its product to big-box retailers, it had no control over where the retailers sold the products. Accordingly, the Superior Court noted that, in such circumstances, it is the big-box retailer, and not the Defendant at issue, who was engaged in the act of selling the product to the customers.

According to the Opinion, with the big-box revenue removed from the calculation, the Defendant at issue was noted to only derive 0.0018% of its total sales from Philadelphia.

The court ruled that the Defendant’s minimal direct website sales to consumers in Philadelphia County was de minimis and purely incidental.

Accordingly, the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s findings that the Defendant’s lack of significant sales in Philadelphia County, combined with the Defendant’s lack of physical presence within the city, supported the Defendant’s argument that the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas was an inappropriate venue for the case.

As such, the trial court’s ruling that sustained the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections and transferred the case to Bucks County was affirmed.

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

Source: Article – “Superior Court Ruling Gives Businesses Post-‘Hangey’ Path to Challenge Venue,” By Aleeza Furman of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Jan. 16, 2024).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.