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Caesars Escapes Personal Jurisdiction via Preliminary Objections (PA)

March 27, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">Seeley v. Caesars Entertainment</a></em>, the plaintiff slipped and fell on water that had accumulated on the floor of a restroom inside of Bally’s Atlantic City.  The plaintiff, a New Jersey resident, subsequently filed suit against Caesars Entertainment d/b/a Bally’s in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, alleging that defendants regularly conducted business in Philadelphia.  In response, defendants filed preliminary objections claiming that Bally’s, a New Jersey corporation, and Caesar’s, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Nevada, do not engage in systematic or continuous business activities in Pennsylvania or Philadelphia and that Caesars has no supervisory or oversight responsibilities with respect to Ballys’ operations.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Court ordered limited discovery with respect to the issues raised in defendants’ preliminary objections.  A representative for Caesars testified that Caesars is the parent company of Bally’s Park Place and that Bally’s Park Place owns Bally’s Atlantic City.  She further testified that Caesars also is the parent company of Harrah’s Philadelphia, a casino located in Chester County, PA.  She testified that each individual casino has its own policies and procedures and duty to maintain its own premises.  Following a hearing in which the deposition testimony was admitted as well as evidence of other lawsuits filed against Bally’s in Philadelphia County, the Court sustained defendants’ preliminary objections.  Plaintiffs appealed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In affirming the Court’s order, the Superior Court stated that it could not consider the mere fact that Caesars owns Harrah’s Philadelphia as evidence of continuous and systematic carrying on of business within Pennsylvania such that it would confer personal jurisdiction in the underlying matter.  Further, the Court stated that plaintiffs have failed to show contacts between defendants and the state of Pennsylvania which would have made defendants reasonably aware that they could be haled into Court in Pennsylvania.  Therefore, the trial court’s order sustaining preliminary objections was affirmed.</p>
Thanks to Alexandra Perry for her contribution to this article.


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