Philadelphia County Venue

/ 21.Jun, 2011
A case which has caught the attention of the plaintiff’s bar is Silver v. Thompson, 2001 PA Super 114 ( 5/27/2011), in which Amicus briefs were filed on behalf of the plaintiff by the PA Association  of Justice and the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association. In Silver, plaintiff driver and passenger, both residents of Bucks County, were involved in an accident in Bucks County with another resident of Bucks County. The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia County, and the defendant was personally served at her workplace in Philadelphia. The trial court transferred the case to Bucks County, holding that service in Philadelphia was proper only if defendant was served at a place of business where she had proprietary rights. The Superior Court reversed and held that venue was proper in Philadelphia, as under PA RCP 1006, venue is proper in a county in which the individual may be served and PA RCP 402(a) provides that service on an individual may be made by handing a copy of the Complaint to the defendant. It is quite common to commute from the suburbs to a workplace in Philadelphia, which is considered a more liberal venue for personal injury cases. So in light of Silver,  it can be anticipated that in automobile accident cases occuring outside of Philadelphia, plaintiffs’ counsel will file their actions against residents of neighboring counties in Philadelphia and serve the defendant at a Philadelphia workplace. Although it has been suggested that a change of venue on  forum non conveniens grounds is still available to defendants, one has to wonder how receptive the courts will be to such a motion where the defendant regularly commutes to work in Philadelphia, especially with case law holding that plaintiff’s choice of forum is to be given great weight. – John F. Lewis