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Motion to Transfer Venue for Forum Non-Conveniens Cited COVID-19 Concerns in Philadelphia County

March 12, 2021

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<p style="text-align: justify;">The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas recently granted a motion to transfer venue to York County, PA in the <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Arceo-et.-al.-v.-AMF-Bakery-Systems-et.-al..pdf">Arceo et. al. v. AMF Bakery Systems, et. al.</a> </em>lawsuit. The motion to transfer venue pursuant to the doctrine of <em>forum non conveniens</em> derives from rule Pa.R.C.P. 1006(d)(1), which states “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses the court upon petition of any party may transfer an action to the appropriate court of any other county where the action could originally have been brought.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Defendants Hanover Foods Corporation, Wege Pretzel Co., Inc., and Bickel’s Snack Foods, Inc. (“Defendants”) argued that the accident occurred in York County, plaintiffs reside in York County, no defendants are located in Philadelphia County, and the evidence and witnesses are centered in York County, PA. Notably, Defendants’ motion also stated that several witnesses were concerned about contracting COVID-19 in Philadelphia County. Defendants’ motion further noted that a request for witnesses to appear via video at trial would severely prejudice the defendants. Plaintiff’s <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/opposition.pdf">opposition</a> stated that “COVID-19 is not a basis for transferring venue, nor are the witnesses’ stated fears of contracting COVID-19 in Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ultimately granted the motion to transfer venue to York County, PA with a one page order that did not address the defendants’ COVID-19 concerns.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Courts will likely see many more cases wherein the venue is sought to be transferred based on Covid-19 concerns.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Emily Finnegan for her contribution to this post.  Should you have any questions, please contact <a href="mailto:tbracken@wcmlaw.com">Tom Bracken .</a></p>

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