An Inconvenient Forum: GGM Secures Dismissal of Crashworthiness Case filed in Philadelphia County

December 30, 2021

Attorneys Jacqueline Campbell and Matthew McColgan secured the dismissal of a national truck rental company in product liability action filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The plaintiff alleged that the truck rented by his employer was not crashworthy, because it lacked an airbag mounted on the steering wheel. Although GGM’s client is headquartered in Pennsylvania, the accident occurred outside of Pennsylvania and involved an out-of-state plaintiff with little connection to Pennsylvania. 

Shortly after the pleadings closed, Campbell and McColgan moved to dismiss the case, arguing that Pennsylvania was an inconvenient forum. Pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5322(e), “[w]hen a tribunal finds that in the interest of substantial justice the matter should be heard in another forum, the tribunal may stay or dismiss the matter in whole or in part on any conditions that may be just.” Hovatter v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 193 A.3d 420, 424 (Pa. Super. 2018). In making this determination, the Court considers the weighty reasons to justify disturbing the plaintiff’s chosen forum, including an analysis of both public and private interest factors. The plaintiff tried to argue that the decisions related to the purchase of the truck occurred in Pennsylvania; however, the facts revealed during venue discovery did not support his theory. Ultimately, the Court agreed with our argument that a company’s marginally-related business activity in Pennsylvania was an insufficient basis to warrant continued venue in Philadelphia County when most of the relevant witnesses are located outside of Pennsylvania.