The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is considering whether a New Jersey company, who employed a man that caused a motor vehicle accident in Pennsylvania, but had no other contacts with the state, can be sued in Pennsylvania. Ordinarily, in order to sue a person or business entity in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania must have personal jurisdiction over the person or entity. Under the Pennsylvania “Long Arm” statute, such jurisdiction exists when the person or entity (directly or by an agent or employee), transacts business in Pennsylvania; contracts to supply services in Pennsylvania; causes harm by act or omission in Pennsylvania; has an interest in real property in Pennsylvania; accepts election or appointment or exercises powers under the authority of Pennsylvania or executes any bond of a person who does; makes application to the government for any certificate, license, permit or registration; or violates any statute, rule, ordinance or regulation in Pennsylvania.
In Schiavone v. R.J. Aveta, the defendant company, a pool construction and maintenance business, only conducted business in New Jersey. It did not do business in Pennsylvania. It also did not meet any of the other bases for personal jurisdiction described under the Pennsylvania “Long Arm” statute, except that one of its employees caused harm in Pennsylvania. However, he was not actually working for the defendant company at the time. The employee negligently caused a car accident in Pennsylvania as he was driving home from a job site.
Previously, a Superior Court panel decided that, under these facts, the company could be sued in Pennsylvania. Now the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to uphold that decision. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Stark & Stark today.