Judge in Phila. orders lawsuit against bus company transferred to Florida

By Jon Campisi | Jan 30, 2012

A U.S. District judge in Philadelphia has ruled that a Pennsylvania woman’s lawsuit against a Florida bus company must play out in federal court in the Sunshine State.

Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granted on Jan. 27 a motion by Florida-based Cabana Coaches to have a civil action against it initiated by Mary Lewis transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Lewis filed her complaint on April 11, 2011, alleging that she sustained injuries after stepping off of a defendant-run bus at the Miami International Airport.

The alleged incident occurred in May 2009 when the plaintiff was in Florida for a five-day cruise.

The bus incident happened upon her return to the airport.

After Lewis filed her complaint alleging personal injuries, the defendant moved to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction, requesting that a federal judge in Philadelphia either dismiss the action entirely, or transfer it to Florida.

Goldberg opted for the latter.

In his ruling, Goldberg determined that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania doesn’t have either “general or specific jurisdiction over the Defendant.”

“The allegations in her complaint, accepted as true, do not establish that Cabana has sufficient contacts with Pennsylvania,” Goldberg wrote. “Plaintiff has failed to allege or provide evidence to suggest that Cabana does any business in Pennsylvania, let alone that its contacts are ‘systematic and continuous.’”

For the reasons stated above, Goldberg determined that the complaint does not meet the general jurisdiction standard.

Furthermore, Goldberg ruled that specific jurisdiction has also not been established by the plaintiff. The only allegation in this regard, the judge wrote, is that Lewis received bus tickets and/or travel vouchers in Philadelphia.

“She has not alleged or produced any evidence to suggest that these vouchers were produced, sold or in any way distributed by Cabana,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiff has not challenged this assertion or claimed otherwise. Simply put, there is nothing in Plaintiff’s complaint or in her response to Defendant’s motion to suggest that Cabana engaged in any forum-related activities or that this case ‘arises from or relates to conduct purposefully directed at the forum state.’”

In her complaint, Lewis accuses the transportation company of failing to properly pull up close enough to the curb so as to allow for safe egress for passengers.

Lewis claims she sustained a fractured ankle, ligament injuries, bruises, abrasions and other injuries after she stepped off of the bus.

She seeks damages in excess of $150,000.

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