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[U] Barnabei v. Schell

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 20, 2014

ROBERT BARNABEI, Appellant
v.
JOSEPH SCHELL AND FREDERICK SCHELL, Appellees

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order entered May 20, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, at No(s): 2315 March Term 2013

BEFORE: ALLEN, JENKINS, and FITZGERALD [*] , JJ.

MEMORANDUM

ALLEN, J.

Robert Barnabei ("Appellant") appeals from the order granting the preliminary objection to venue filed by appellees Joseph Schell and Frederick Schell ("the Schells"), and transferring the case to Delaware County. Upon review, we affirm.

The trial court summarized the factual and procedural background as follows:

[Appellant] commenced this personal injury action against [the Schells] by way of Complaint on March 18, 2013. The underlying facts of this litigation are as follows. On May 6, 2011, [Appellant] was involved in an accident in Delaware County when he was a passenger in a car driven by Defendant Joseph Schell (hereinafter "Defendant").
Prior to the accident, Defendant was tailgating at a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Defendant allegedly became intoxicated. After leaving the game, Defendant was involved in the single-car accident in Delaware County. [Appellant] was a passenger in the car Defendant was driving at the time of the accident. The police report lists the cause of the accident as driving too fast for the conditions and losing control of the vehicle. Upon further investigation, it was found Defendant had been drinking and was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence. [Appellant's] complaint for negligence seeks compensatory and punitive damages in connection with the accident.
On February 12, 2013, [the Schells] filed Preliminary Objections, challenging, inter alia, venue in Philadelphia County. [The Schells] argued venue is improper in Philadelphia County since Defendant was not amenable to service in Philadelphia and [Appellant's] cause of action did not arise in Philadelphia County. [Appellant] responded on May 15, 2013. By Court Order dated May 20, 2013, this Court sustained [the Schell's] objection to venue and directed a transfer of the matter to Delaware County, Pennsylvania. [Appellant] filed the instant appeal on June 18, 2013 and a Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1925(b) Statement of Errors Complained on July 10, 2013.

Trial Court Opinion, 8/21/13, at 1-2 (footnotes omitted).

Appellant presents us with one issue:

Did the trial court abuse its discretion in transferring this matter from Philadelphia County to neighboring Delaware County[, ] determining that trial in Philadelphia County was improper where defendant became intoxicated in Philadelphia and drove his car from Philadelphia into Delaware County and caused the accident?

Appellant's Brief at 4.

We review an order sustaining preliminary objections based on improper venue for an abuse of discretion or legal error. Lugo v. Farmers Pride, Inc., 967 A.2d 963, 966 (Pa. Super. 2009), appeal denied, 602 Pa. 668, 980 A.2d 609 (2009). A trial court's decision to transfer a case for improper venue will not be disturbed if the decision is reasonable in light of the facts. McM ...


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