PROCEDURE-VENUE-FORUM NON CONVENIENS

January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Procedure

Est. of Quigley v. Pottstown Hosp., LLC, 2022 Pa. Super. LEXIS 473 (December 1, 2022) (Lazarus, J.) The Estate of Rita Quigley (Decedent), by its representative Edward Clemson, Executor (Plaintiff), appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas Philadelphia County sustaining the preliminary objections of Pottstown Hospital, LLC, Tower Health, and John Does 1-10 (collectively, Defendants) to Plaintiff’s first amended complaint and transferring venue of the matter to Montgomery County. Because Defendant Tower Health’s acts are more than sufficient to establish venue in Philadelphia County, we reverse and remand.  Decedent was a resident of Chestnut Knoll, an assisted living facility located in Boyertown, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Decedent suffered from dementia and cognitive impairment. On October 28, 2020, Decedent was admitted to Pottstown Hospital. Pottstown Hospital is located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and is owned by Tower Health. Tower Health’s registered office and principal place of business are located in West Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania. On November 1, 2020, the Decedent was discharged and transported from Pottstown Hospital to PowerBack Rehabilitation Center, which is located in the Phoenixville area. Upon the Decedent’s arrival at PowerBack, PowerBack’s medical staff conducted a routine physical exam and discovered Decedent had significant injuries consistent with a sexual assault. Unable to admit Decedent based upon those injuries, PowerBack immediately transferred Decedent to Phoenixville Hospital, a facility also owned by Tower Health, where medical personnel performed a medical examination of Decedent and made notes about her physical condition.  On July 23, 2021, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant Tower Health in Philadelphia County, at 8835 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, alleging that the Decedent was raped and sexually assaulted while she was a patient at Pottstown Hospital.  Bearing in mind that “each case rests on its own facts,” Purcell, supra at 1286, we conclude that Tower Health regularly conducts business in Philadelphia County to establish venue. Specifically, Tower Health has the requisite quality and quantity of contacts with that county where it: (1) wholly and partially owns multiple Philadelphia properties, including an acute-care hospital, two urgent care facilities, and a children’s hospital; (2) is the managing partner of an LLC that owns a Philadelphia children’s hospital; (3) conducts medical billing of all of its subsidiary hospitals through a Philadelphia post office box; (4) actively asserts control and authority over its subsidiaries by: procuring their insurance policies, providing them general counsel, conducting hospital CEO performance reviews and disciplinary actions, ratifying the hospitals’ boards of directors, implementing acute-care hospitals’ federal mandates, providing infrastructure support to hospitals, and making final decision on hospitals’ large capital projects. Cf. Battuello v. Camelback Ski Corp., 409 Pa. Super. 642, 598 A.2d 1027 (Pa. Super. 1991) (corporate defendant’s single act of soliciting business in Philadelphia not enough to confer venue). Here, the evidence demonstrates that Tower Health, a parent corporation and named defendant, regularly conducts business in Philadelphia County for purposes of establishing venue in Plaintiff’s chosen forum. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted Defendants’ preliminary objections and transferred the action from Philadelphia County to Montgomery County.  Order reversed. Case remanded. Venue of matter transferred to Philadelphia County. Jurisdiction relinquished.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]

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