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VIRGINIA BROWN v. DELAWARE VALLEY TRANSPLANT PROGRAM (03/08/88)

filed: March 8, 1988.

VIRGINIA BROWN, AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF LAWRENCE BROWN AND INDIVIDUALLY, JOAN BROWN SPINA, JOHN BROWN, THOMAS R. BROWN, APPELLANTS,
v.
THE DELAWARE VALLEY TRANSPLANT PROGRAM, ARTHUR HARRELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS TRANSPLANT COORDINATOR OF THE PROGRAM, HOWARD NATHAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PROGRAM, BRANDYWINE HOSPITAL, NORMAN LEDWIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF BRANDYWINE HOSPITAL, JAMES P. ARGIRES, M.D., INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS A STAFF MEMBER OF BRANDYWINE HOSPITAL, PHILIPPE OUELLETTE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS VICE PRESIDENT OF BRANDYWINE HOSPITAL, CHARLES R. WAGNER, M.D., ST. CHRISTOPHER'S HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN, SAMUEL HEED, ESQUIRE (TWO CASES)



Appeal from the Orders Entered on January 22, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, No. 3152 August Term 1986.

COUNSEL

Joseph F. Lawless, Jr., Media, for appellants.

George E. Rahn, Jr., Philadelphia, for Brandywine Hosp. and Ledwin, appellees.

Roberta D. Liebenberg, Philadelphia, for Heed, appellee.

Beck, Cavanaugh and Hester, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 371 Pa. Super. Page 585]

This is an appeal from orders*fn1 transferring this tort action from Philadelphia County to Chester County on the ground of forum non conveniens. We hold that the change of venue was a proper exercise of the trial court's discretion, and affirm the orders.

On October 30, 1984, Lawrence Brown was discovered lying on a roadside in Chester County with a gunshot wound in his head. He was transported to Brandywine Hospital in Chester County, where he was placed on life support systems. Hospital personnel determined that he had suffered brain death, and decided to seek permission to use Brown's heart and kidneys for transplantation.

The hospital directed its counsel, Samuel Heed, to prepare a petition requesting a court order granting consent to the extraction of Brown's organs for transplantation. Heed presented the petition to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, alleging that the identity of Lawrence Brown, identified as "John Doe," was unknown and that the hospital was unable to contact his next-of-kin to obtain consent. Following a hearing, the court granted the petition. With court approval, Brown's heart and kidneys were removed under the auspices of the Delaware Valley Transplant Program.

Representatives of the decedent filed a multi-count complaint against the Delaware Valley Transplant Program and some of its officers, Brandywine Hospital and various officers and staff physicians, and Mr. Heed, counsel for the hospital. The complaint alleged that although the defendants knew the identity of Lawrence Brown, they conspired to obtain court authorization for the removal of his organs in violation of the law, rather than seeking the authorization of his next-of-kin, resulting in extreme emotional distress.

[ 371 Pa. Super. Page 586]

On January 22, 1987, the court granted the defendants' petition to transfer venue to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County on the ground that Philadelphia was a forum non conveniens. Appellants have appealed the transfer under Pa.R.A.P. 311(c). The sole issue is whether the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the change of venue.

Pa.R.C.P. 1006(d) "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." Fox v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co., 315 Pa. Super. 79, 81, 461 A.2d 805, 806 ...


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