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January 04, 2013

One Way Ticket Out of Town - Another Motion to Transfer Venue Granted

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has affirmed another trial court order transferring a case out of Philadelphia County. In Stoner v. Penn Kleen Inc., the plaintiff was injured at Swopes Salvage Yard located in East Berlin, Adams County, Pennsylvania, while disassembling a pressure washer allegedly sold to the salvage yard by defendant Penn Kleen.

The case involved multiple defendants, none of whom had principal places of business in Philadelphia. Defendant Penn Clean moved for transfer of venue to either Adams County or York County on forum non convenience grounds pursuant to PA.R.C.P. 1006 (d) (1). Penn Kleen’s motion identified its principal place of business in York County, Pennsylvania. It noted that a second defendant, Alto Cleaning Systems, had its principal place of business in North Carolina. Several defendants, collectively referred to as the “Milfisk Defendants,” had their principal places of business in Minnesota, Arizona, and Denmark. Another group of defendants, referred to as the “K.E.W. defendants,” were located in Denmark. The negligence claim was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.

In support of the Motion to Transfer Venue, Penn Clean advised the court that each of the fact witnesses to the accident were located in Adams County where the accident took place. Penn Kleen submitted affidavits indicating that its employees worked and resided only in York County. Penn Kleen presented an affidavit from its company president indicating that venue in Philadelphia County would cause him to shut down his business during the course of the trial, resulting in a loss of income. 

Penn Kleen further submitted three employee affidavits which stated that travel to Philadelphia would take in excess of three and a half hours, involve at least 200-round-trip miles, and impose significant costs. These same employees noted that travel to Adams County would only require travel of 31 to 75 miles, with no tolls or parking fees. Based on these affidavits and the location of the witnesses, the trial court granted the Motion to Transfer Venue. The Superior Court affirmed the transfer.

What It Means to You

Plaintiffs frequently file suits in Philadelphia County hoping to benefit from this perceived liberal venue. In many instances, transferring a case from Philadelphia County to any other county in the Commonwealth decreases its value. Therefore, it is important to evaluate a case at the outset to determine whether it has the potential of being transferred to another county.

Sources

Stoner v. Penn Kleen, Inc., 2012 PA Super 218 (October 5, 2012)