Venue Transfer Upheld Under Forum Non Conveniens

In Lee v. Bower Lewis Thrower, ____ A.3d ____ 2014 PA Super 240 (October 22, 2014), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a trial court order granting motion for forum non conveniens. The case was moved from Philadelphia County to Centre County.

The case involved an automobile accident on Penn State’s campus in University Park, Pennsylvania. At the time, Plaintiff Lee was a pedestrian struck by an automobile driven by Armstrong. Lee filed suit in Philadelphia against several defendants claiming that the area was negligently constructed. All of the Defendants joined in the petition to transfer venue under forum non conveniens. The Superior Court noted that a moving party must support a petition to transfer venue with detailed information on the record. Bratic v. Rubendall, 2014 WL 4064028, at *3-*4 (Pa. August 18, 2014). Moreover, the moving party must present “a sufficient factual basis for the petition, and the trial court retains the discretion to determine whether the particular form of proof is sufficient.” Id.

In the Lee matter, Defendants submitted similar affidavits from the potential witnesses to those submitted in Bratic and that evidence was sufficient to support transfer from Philadelphia to Centre County. The factors supporting that ruling included distance, burden of travel, time out of office, disruption to business operations, difficulty in obtaining witnesses and access to proof generally. Id.

The Lee Court determined that the lower court properly considered the detailed information and upheld the transfer of venue. In Lee, there were seven (7) witness affidavits that provided a sufficient basis for the transfer of venue. In addition to the foregoing, the affidavits also cited issues with family, childcare, and job responsibilities to support the venue transfer. The lower court also found that travel to and from State College, Pennsylvania would be 3 to 4 hours each way.

Thus, the Superior Court affirmed the transfer of venue.