Court Finds Venue Is Proper in Case involving Gymnast

Dec 4, 2009

A federal judge from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that the claim of a Pennsylvania student, who sued Cornell University after he was tragically injured while attempting a gymnastic maneuver in the Teagle Gymnasium on the Cornell campus, should continue in his district, despite the fact that Cornell is based in New York state.
The incident occurred on October 12, 2006 when plaintiff Randall Duchesneau attempted a backwards jumping maneuver on a TumblTrak gymnastics training apparatus, and landed squarely in the center of the apparatus, causing him to suffer catastrophic, permanent spinal injuries. The injuries rendered him a quadriplegic, who is totally defendant on a motorized, reclined wheelchair.
Two years later, Duchesneau sued Cornell and the manufacturer, alleging negligence and products liability. The plaintiff alleged diversity of citizenship between the parties. Cornell filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the instant court lacks personal jurisdiction over Cornell or, in the alternative, that the venue was improper. Defendant TumblTrak filed a motion to dismiss in which it only asserted that the venue was improper. Duchesneau opposed both motions on the grounds that the court has personal jurisdiction over both defendants and that the venue is proper.
The court originally found that “there is no relationship between Cornell’s specific activities in the Commonwealth and Plaintiff’s cause of action.”
The court went on to suggest that transferring this action to the Northern District of New York “would better serve the interests of justice than dismissal of the action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1631.
The plaintiff moved for reconsideration.
In considering the motion for reconsideration, the court focused, among other things, on Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute, which holds that “general personal jurisdiction is exercised over a defendant based on that defendant’s ‘continuous and systematic’ contacts with this state. Remick v. Manfredy, et al., 238 F.3d 248, 255 (3d Cir.2001).
It added that “Cornell is a foreign corporation that is licensed to do business in Pennsylvania, and it does real business here in the Eastern District.”
“…Accordingly, because all defendants reside in the same state, see 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c), venue is proper in this diversity action under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a)(1).”
Duchesneau v. Cornell University and Tumbltrak; E.D. Pa.; Civil Action No. 08-4856; 9/30/09
Attorneys of Record: (for plaintiff) Stewart J. Eisenberg, Daniel Joseph Sherry, Jr., Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck P.C., Philadelphia, PA. (for defendants) Allen R. Bunker, Comeau & Bunker, Daniel J. McCarthy, Susan R. Engle, Mintzer, Sarowitz, Zeris, Ledva & Meyers LLP, Philadelphia, PA.


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