Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Venue disputes can frustrate Allegheny County injury claims

Jurisdictional disputes can cause problems for Allegheny County personal injury plaintiffs. A premises liability case must be filed in the proper jurisdiction for a court to make an indissoluble judgment. State and federal laws determine whether a court has the authority to rule on a case.

A personal injury dispute may be bumped from a state court to a federal court through a defendant's petition for removal. The legal argument may be that the parties in the lawsuit are "diversified citizens" – from different states or countries. Another reason for a change to federal court might be a damage amount request of $75,000 or more.

A defendant is requesting a change of venue in a slip and fall action filed last month. The plaintiff filed a claim in Philadelphia, where she fell in a PetSmart store. The PetSmart attorney wants the case transferred to a federal court, in part, because the defendant's business and corporate centers are outside Pennsylvania.

In addition, the defendant argued the plaintiff's damages could reach the $75,000 federal threshold. The lawsuit indicated the plaintiff sought damages above $50,000 for injuries the woman suffered in the 2012 accident.

According to the filing, the plaintiff was near a checkout when she slipped on a wet area in a PetSmart store. The fluid apparently was a mixture of slippery substances, including urine.

The woman's fall injured her neck and back and aggravated a degenerative condition. She suffered tears to tendons and muscles, contusions and sprains that created unnecessary medical bills, wage losses and diminished future earning capacity. The complaint alleged the company knew about but did not correct a dangerous condition.

A change of jurisdiction requires a new court filing, which must be made within the two-year Pennsylvania statute of limitations for premises liability claims. A change of venue also may cause inconvenience for the plaintiff in travel time and other costs.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "PetSmart faces suit by allegedly injured Phila. shopper who slipped on water, urine" Jon Campisi, Jan. 21, 2014

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