February 7, 2013
Behrens & Silverman on PA Venue Reform
Mark Behrens & Cary Silverman (Shook, Hardy & Bacon) have published Litigation Tourism in Pennsylvania: Is Venue Reform Needed? in the Widener Law Journal. Mark will argue for venue reform at an upcoming symposium here at Widener in Harrisburg. Scott Cooper, the President of PA Justice, will argue the plaintiffs' perspective. Stay tuned for more about the symposium.
The article (pdf) is here: Download DC-#447980-v1-Pennsylvania_venue_reform_article_pdf The conclusion:
Recent changes have made Philadelphia fairer for civil defendants in mass tort cases, but more needs to be done. Pennsylvania should take the next step and adopt venue reform through legislation or court rule. As the Illinois Supreme Court recently observed: "Decent judicial administration cannot tolerate forum shopping as a persuasive or even legitimate reason for burdening communities with litigation that arose elsewhere and should, in all justice, be tried there."
One approach for Pennsylvania would be to extend the venue provision for medical liability actions so that all tort claims have to be brought in the county where the cause of action arose. That approach would achieve greater uniformity and predictability in the law. Alternatively, tort actions not involving medical liability could be brought in the county (1) where the plaintiff resides, (2) where all or a predominant part of the cause of action arose, or (3) where the defendant resides if the defendant is an individual, or where the defendant has its principal place of business if the defendant is a corporation or similar entity. If the action involves multiple corporate defendants, then venue should be limited to the county where the plaintiff resides or where all or a predominant part of the cause of action arose. In an action against a single small business defendant, venue could be limited to the county where all or a predominant part of the cause of action arose. Either approach would refocus Pennsylvania litigation on Pennsylvania citizens, help ensure that claims are heard in the county with the most logical connection to the case, and discourage joinder of local defendants simply for the purpose of having a case heard in a particular county. In the meantime, trial courts should do their part by granting defendants' forum non conveniens motions in cases that should be heard elsewhere.
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