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Quality-Quantity Analysis Transfers Plaintiffs’ Lawsuit To New Venue (PA)

December 4, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">The Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County recently denied a plaintiff’s attempt to venue a lawsuit in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Baughman-v-Hershey.pdf">Baughman v Hershey</a>,</em> the plaintiff’s accident took place in Daupin County, Pennsylvania and the plaintiff attempted to argue that sufficient contacts were made in Monroe County, Pennsylvania as well.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The incident involved a slip and fall which took place at Hershey Park Stadium in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. However, the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in Monroe County, where they purchased the tickets. Hershey objected to venue in Monroe County and filed preliminary objections pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1028(a)(1) and Pa.R.C.P. 2179(a). In response to the preliminary objections, the plaintiffs sought leave to take discovery on the issue of venue which was granted by the court.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">After discovery was completed, the court stated that “in determining whether a corporation or partnership regularly conducts business in a county, we employ a quality-quantity analysis.” The court went on to find that, while Hershey had sufficient quality of contacts in Monroe County, it did not have a sufficient quantity of contacts for venue purposes. The court specified that Hershey’s total sales in Monroe County were a mere 0.24% in 2019. While Pennsylvania courts have found that venue was proper when a defendant’s sales in a county were 1-2% of total business, they also previously refused to confer venue when sales ranges from 0.08% to 0.17% of total sales.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Overall, the court found that the percentage of income that Hershey generated from all contacts with the Monroe County market was minimal and that the necessary quantity of acts is not present to render Monroe County a proper venue based upon the provision in Pa.R.C.P 2179(a)(2). The plaintiffs also attempted to give weight to the fact that the ticket was purchased through Ticketmaster and that the ticket was the source of the plaintiffs’ status as business visitors at Hershey’s premises, thereby qualifying under Pa.R.C.P. 2179(a)(4) as a transaction from which the cause of action arose. Although the court agreed that, since the ticket was purchased in Monroe County, the contract may be considered to have been accepted in that venue, it ultimately concluded that the issue did not surround a contract dispute and the place of purchase carried little weight.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Zhanna Dubinksy for her contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com">Georgia Coats</a> with any questions.</p>

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