Appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County, No. 3608 September Term 1985.
Henry T. Reath, Philadelphia, for appellant.
James E. Beasley, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Cavanaugh, Rowley, Wieand, McEwen,*fn* Beck, Kelly, Popovich and Melinson, JJ.
[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 628]
This is an interlocutory appeal by permission from an order overruling the preliminary objections of appellant, Bryn Mawr Hospital, as to venue in a medical malpractice action. We affirm.
On September 20, 1985, plaintiffs Joan and James Purcell, residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and administrators of the estate of their daughter, Lindsay Hunter Purcell, commenced the instant medical malpractice action in Philadelphia County against Bryn Mawr Hospital (Bryn Mawr), which is located in Montgomery County.*fn1 Bryn
[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 629]
Mawr filed preliminary objections as to venue asserting that venue was not proper in Philadelphia County because Bryn Mawr does not "regularly conduct business" in Philadelphia as required by Pa.R.C.P. 2179(a)(2). The trial court ordered the parties to conduct depositions on the issue of venue.
Upon completion of the depositions, the trial court entered an order on April 23, 1986, overruling Bryn Mawr's preliminary objections. A motion for reconsideration of the April 23, 1986, order was denied. However, in response to a subsequent petition filed by Bryn Mawr for leave to appeal the interlocutory order of April 23, 1986, the trial court vacated its April 23, 1986, order. On June 27, 1986, the court entered an order again overruling Bryn Mawr's preliminary objections as to venue and certifying that its order involved a controlling question of law as to which there were substantial grounds for differences of opinion. On October 24, 1986, this Court granted Bryn Mawr's petition for permission to file an interlocutory appeal. This case was listed for argument before an en banc panel of our Court.
The sole issue before us is whether or not venue is proper in Philadelphia County in the instant case. Upon carefully reviewing the arguments and briefs of all parties and upon close examination of the original record, we conclude that the trial court's determination that venue is proper in Philadelphia is supported by the unique facts in this case and is in accord with prior precedent. We therefore affirm the order.
The relevant facts in the present case, which was commenced in Philadelphia County, are as follows. The plaintiffs reside in Chester County; Bryn Mawr is located in Montgomery County; and the other defendants have professional
[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 630]
offices or reside outside of Philadelphia County. Bryn Mawr treats all of its patients in Montgomery County and does not transfer them to other hospitals located in Philadelphia in order to provide special care. Bryn Mawr maintains a listing in the Philadelphia County Yellow and White Pages of the telephone book. Bryn Mawr also places advertisements periodically in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Bryn Mawr purchases various supplies from businesses in Philadelphia County.
Bryn Mawr also has contracts with several hospitals/medical schools located in Philadelphia County, including Jefferson Medical College, (Jefferson) University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University Hospital. The nature of the agreements with these Philadelphia County hospitals/medical schools is similar: students enrolled in residency programs in the medical schools of these Philadelphia County hospitals serve rotations, varying in duration from several months to a year, at Bryn Mawr. In exchange for the services of the residents, Bryn Mawr pays the appropriate other medical school/hospital a sum equal to the salary of the resident plus a percentage of the salary for fringe benefits. Bryn Mawr also either provides professional liability coverage to the resident or pays a fee to the appropriate hospital/medical school to cover the professional liability expense for the resident incurred by the hospital/medical school.
By the express terms of the agreement between Bryn Mawr and Jefferson in Philadelphia County, the establishment of the "cooperative academic program of medical education and training, to be known as the 'Jefferson-Bryn Mawr Education Program'" was established for the following purposes:
WHEREAS Bryn Mawr desires to continue and improve the excellence of its medical and community services, desires to enlarge its educational responsibilities and believes that both can be achieved best by an affiliation with a medical school and participation in a well organized program of medical education; and
[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 631]
WHEREAS Jefferson operates a medical college, general hospital, College of Graduate Studies, and College of Allied Health Sciences at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and shares with Bryn Mawr common goals of patient care, education and research and community services; and
WHEREAS, Jefferson wishes to cooperate toward these common goals by developing joint programs for the education of undergraduate medical students and house staff, and by promoting continuing medical education and research, communications and cooperative programs of patient care and community service;
Now therefore, the parties hereto, intending it to be legally bound, agree as follows:
The agreement further provides that Jefferson "shall assign medical students to participate in the program at Bryn Mawr" in such numbers and for such periods of time as both hospitals shall agree to. Bryn Mawr must provide from its own staff a Director of Medical Education and a Program Director for each participating department of the Hospital. Furthermore, any physician at Bryn Mawr who participates in the program must be approved by Jefferson as a member of Jefferson's faculty and the physician must accept appointment to the Jefferson Medical College faculty. When the position of Director of Medical Education at Bryn Mawr becomes vacant, the search committee for a successor Director at Bryn Mawr shall include the Dean of Jefferson or his designee.
Before examining these facts in light of the arguments of the parties and the relevant law, we note that our scope of review of an order determining whether a corporation regularly conducts business in a particular county, and, therefore, whether venue is proper under Pa.R.C.P. 2179 is limited. Such a determination depends on the individual facts of each case, and we cannot reverse a trial court's determination when its conclusion is a reasonable one in
[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 632]
view of the facts. Monaco v. Montgomery Cab Co., 417 Pa. 135, 208 A.2d 252 (1965).
The primary issue before us is whether or not venue is proper in Philadelphia County. In an action against a corporation the Rules of Civil Procedure provide that venue lies in and only in:
(1) the county where its registered office or principal place of business is located;
(2) a county where it regularly conducts business;
(3) the county where the cause of action arose; or
(4) a county where a transaction or occurrence took place out of which the cause of action arose.
Pa.R.C.P. 2179(a)(1)-(4). In the present case, it is undisputed that the principal place of business of Bryn Mawr is not in Philadelphia County, that the cause of action did not arise in Philadelphia County, and that no transaction or occurrence out of which the cause of action arose took place in Philadelphia County. However, the parties dispute whether Bryn Mawr "regularly conducts business" in Philadelphia County. Therefore, we must determine whether the trial court erred in concluding that the activities of Bryn Mawr in this case come within the meaning of "regularly conducts business" in Rule 2179(a)(2).
Upon reviewing the facts of this case, which include that Bryn Mawr admittedly purchases essential materials and supplies from Philadelphia County without which it would be unable to provide medical services to its patients; that Bryn Mawr presently has and has had for many years an "affiliation" with Philadelphia County medical schools/hospitals, the express purpose of which is to "continue and improve the excellence of its medical and community services" and "to enlarge its educational responsibilities;" that because of the "affiliation" between Bryn Mawr and the Philadelphia County medical schools/hospitals, Bryn Mawr is able to improve the quality of care it can provide its patients, and thereby increase the number of patients who seek medical treatment from Bryn Mawr as well as maintain or improve the quality of treatment available
[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 633]
in Philadelphia County hospitals as a result of the training the residents receive during their rotation at Bryn Mawr before they return to the Philadelphia County medical schools/hospitals; we find ample evidence in the record to support the trial court's conclusion that venue in Philadelphia County in the present case is proper because Bryn Mawr "regularly conducts business" in Philadelphia County.
Bryn Mawr and the amici challenge the trial court's conclusion that Bryn Mawr regularly conducts business in Philadelphia County for purposes of venue on three general bases. First, they contend that to find that Bryn Mawr regularly conducts business in Philadelphia County is contrary to the stated public policy behind Rule 2179. Secondly, they argue that applying established case law to the facts of this case, Bryn Mawr does not regularly conduct business in Philadelphia ...