A Philadelphia trial court judge this week docketed an opinion outlining why she believes
her order denying a motion to transfer venue in a personal injury case against Comcast should be affirmed.
On April 17, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson denied a motion by defendant Comcast of Southeast Pennsylvania to transfer a case initiated by Rose and Jeff Thomas to Bucks County.
The couple filed their suit against Comcast in November 2012 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court over allegations that Rose Thomas became injured when she was pinned against her garage door by a Comcast van.
The plaintiff had attempted to assist a Comcast technician to push his work van out of her driveway at the time of the incident.
Rose Thomas claims she sustained serious injuries in the incident.
Comcast subsequently filed a motion to transfer the litigation to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, because, it asserted, it regularly does business in Bucks and not Philadelphia.
The cable company argued that the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas would be a forum non conveniens, because that location is both oppressive and vexatious.
Massiah-Jackson, however, had ruled that Comcast failed to meet its burden of proof in requesting transfer.
“A Trial Court must consider whether the defendant has demonstrated more than that the plaintiff’s chosen forum is merely inconvenient,” Massiah-Jackson wrote. “In this case, there has not been any suggestion that Plaintiff-Thomas’ choice of forum was designed to harass the defendant. Nor has this Defendant established that traveling from Bucks County to Philadelphia is onerous.”
The judge went on to write that case law is clear that “conclusory assertions of oppressiveness or vexation, without detailed information can not satisfy Defendant-Comcast’s burden.”
Massiah-Jackson also wrote that not one of Comcast’s public interest factors presents a compelling reason to transfer the case to Bucks County, since “it is well-settled that a plaintiff’s choice of forum should rarely be disturbed,” and because of the fact that lawyers are routinely required to travel to examine case documents and records regardless.
“No matter where this case proceeds the defendant will have to travel to bring evidence to the courthouse,” the judge wrote. “The Philadelphia Metropolitan Area has many major highways to provide ease of travel for all witnesses.”
The judge also wrote that Comcast was provided an opportunity to develop its record in support of its motion to transfer venue by court order in late January, and that it declined to do so when Comcast chose not to present a corporate designee with particularized knowledge relating to where Comcast LLC conducts business and other venue-related issues.
In the end, Massiah-Jackson urged the state’s Superior Court to uphold her denial to transfer venue.