No. 3313 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County, No. 779 September Term, 1981.
Robert E. Slota, Bryn Mawr, for appellant.
Jerrold Paul Anders, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Wieand, McEwen and Montgomery, JJ. McEwen, J., files a concurring opinion.
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Jeffrey Allen Fox, age 14, climbed a tower on a right of way of Consolidated Rail Corporation in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne
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County, where he came in contact with a high voltage electric line owned by Pennsylvania Power & Light Company (P.P. & L.). He was electrocuted and fell eighty-five feet to his death. Letters of administration were issued to the decedent's father in Luzerne County, where he resided, and he commenced wrongful death and survival actions against Consolidated Rail and P.P. & L. in the courts of Philadelphia County. P.P. & L. filed a petition under Pa.R.C.P. 1006(d) requesting a transfer of the action to the courts of Luzerne County for the convenience of parties and witnesses. The petition was granted, and the action was transferred as requested. The decedent's estate appealed.
An order changing venue, although interlocutory, is appealable. Pa.R.A.P. 311(c) provides: "An appeal may be taken as of right from an order in a civil action or proceeding changing venue, transferring the matter to another court of coordinate jurisdiction, or declining to proceed in the matter on the basis of forum non conveniens or analogous principles." The order transferring venue, therefore, is properly before this Court for review.
A court is authorized by Pa.R.C.P. 1006(d) to transfer an action to the appropriate court of any other county where the original action could have been brought if it will serve the convenience of parties and witnesses. This rule vests considerable discretion in the trial judge to determine whether to grant a petition for a change of venue. On appeal from such an order, the only issue is whether the trial judge abused his discretion. Plum v. Tampax, Inc., 399 Pa. 553, 560, 160 A.2d 549, 553 (1960); Hamay v. County of Washington, 291 Pa. Super. 137, 141, 435 A.2d 606, 608 (1981); Daugherty v. Inland Tugs Company, 240 Pa. Super. 527, 531, 359 A.2d 465, 467 (1976); Tarasi v. Settino, 223 Pa. Super. 158, 161-162, 298 A.2d 903, 905 (1972).
In determining whether or not to transfer venue, a court should look to the interests of the litigants. "Important considerations . . . are the relative ease of access to the
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sources of proof; the availability of compulsory process for the attendance of unwilling witnesses; the cost of obtaining the attendance of willing witnesses; the possible need for a view of the premises, if such would be appropriate to the action; and all other practical problems that make trial of a case expeditious and inexpensive. The ends of justice are not served by allowing a suit to be litigated in a forum where, on balance, unnecessary hardship and inconvenience would be cast on one party without compensatingly fair convenience to the other parties and where suit might be more conveniently litigated in another forum available equally to both parties." Daugherty v. Inland Tugs Company, supra, 240 Pa. Super. at 530, 359 A.2d at 466. Accord: Koenig v. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, 284 Pa. Super. 558, 575, 426 A.2d 635, 644 (1980). The choice of forum by the plaintiff is also entitled to weighty consideration and should not be disturbed lightly. Walker v. The Ohio River Company, 416 Pa. 149, 152, 205 A.2d 43, 45 (1964); Koenig v. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, supra, 284 Pa. Super. ...