In this personal injury action brought by plaintiff JC, defendants Mr. HS and LLC Realty move for an order, pursuant to CPLR §511, to change venue to Westchester County.
Plaintiff commenced this action through the service of a Summons and Complaint on September 30, 2009. Her Summons lists the basis of venue as her residence, 214 East 83rd Street, Apt. 5A, New York, New York 10028. In her Complaint, plaintiff alleges that Mr. HS is the owner of 214 East 83rd Street, New York, New York, the premises, and Realty is the management company of the premises. Plaintiff further alleges that on or about July 2, 2009, as a result of defendants’ negligence, she fell down an interior staircase of the premises, and suffered serious injury .
Defendants contend that, pursuant to CPLR §503(a), venue is based on the parties’ residence at the time of commencement of the action. For corporations such as Realty, residency is determined by the county where its principal place of business is listed on its certificate of incorporation. As Mr. Mr. HS resides at 10 Forthill Lane, Scarsdale, New York, New York, 10583, and Realty is a domestic limited liability company incorporated in Westchester County, with its principal office in Westchester County, defendants’ residency is Westchester County.
Citing case law, defendants further contend that a defendant is entitled to a change of venue from the venue chosen by plaintiff, if, shortly after an action is commenced, the plaintiff moves from the residence that served as the basis for venue at the time of commencement. Such an act evidences a plaintiff’s lack of intent to retain the residence as a permanent residence. Citing the affidavit of Mr. Mr. HS, defendants argue that plaintiffs lease regarding the construction was terminated in October 2009, and plaintiff moved out of said premises on October 31, 2009, and now lives in Pennsylvania. Therefore, plaintiffs address at the time the instant matter was commenced cannot be deemed plaintiffs residence, because she did not possess the requisite intent to retain the residence for some length of time and with some degree of permanency. Given that plaintiff is now a Pennsylvania domiciliary with no residency in any county within New York State, the only proper county for venue is Westchester County, defendants argue.
In opposition, plaintiff distinguishes the case law on which defendants rely, on the ground that in those cases, it was clear that the plaintiff was never a bona fide resident of the county wherein the action initially was venued. The courts rejected such attempts to manufacture or manipulate venue by temporarily relocating to the chosen venue. In contrast, plaintiff was a longstanding resident and domiciliary of New York County, where she lived, worked, received her paychecks, and filed her income tax returns. Plaintiff did not temporarily move or relocate to New York County for the specific purpose of establishing venue therein, nor did she utilize the home of a family member or office as a temporary stopover for the purpose of creating a sham venue. The mere fact that plaintiff relocated outside of New York County after commencing this action is irrelevant for venue purposes, plaintiff argues.
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