Published on:

In a premises liability case, the court denies defendant’s motion to change venue – Coughlin v. Sarraf, 2010 NY Slip Op 30332(U) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2/17/2010)


In this slip and fall case, the defendant moves to change venue based on the situs of his business and the fact that the plaintiff moved from the location where the accident occurred to another state.

Plaintiff Coughlin resided in an apartment building owned by 214 Street Realty Company. Defendant Sarraf is the owner of the company. The plaintiff asserts that she was seriously injured when due to the defendant’s negligence, fell down a staircase in the building which is located at 83 E 214th Street, New York, New York. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against Sarraf. Defendant moved for a change of venue to Westchester County, the county in which 214 Street Realty Company has its principal place of business.

Under CPLR §503(a), for personal injury claims that are commenced in New York Supreme Court, the proper venue is the county in which one of the parties resided when the action was commenced. If one of the parties is a corporation, according to CPLR §503(c) the corporation is deemed to be a resident of the county in which its principal office is located.

The defendant’s motion for change of venue is based on two factors. Defendant lives in Scarsdale, New York, which is in West Chester County. He argues that because 214 Street Realty Company is a domestic limited liability company incorporated in West Chester County and its principal office is in West Chester County, it is a resident of West Chester County. Thus, his first argument for a change in venue is the fact that his corporation is a resident of West Chester County. In further support for his motion to change venue, defendant points out that soon after filing her claim, the plaintiff moved from New York the Philadelphia. He argues that her moving is evidence of her lack of intent for the New York apartment building to be her permanent residence. This shows, according to the defendant, that at the time that she commenced the action, the plaintiff did not have permanent residency in New York. Because she now lives in Pennsylvania, the only proper venue for the action is in West Chester County.

The plaintiff responded to the defendant’s assertion that at the time of the lawsuit she was not a resident of the New York by pointing out that unlike the parties in the cases on which defendant relies, she was at the time of the accident and at the time she filed her lawsuit a bona fide resident of New York. She did not temporarily move to New York in an attempt to manufacture residency for the purpose of the lawsuit. The plaintiff points out that she was a long-term resident of New York. As proof she presented paystubs and tax returns, and produced evidence that she registered her car in New York. She contends that the fact that she ended up moving after filing the lawsuit is irrelevant. Furthermore, the plaintiff assets that for personal injury claims, venue is preferred in the county where the accident occurred.
Defendant disagrees, pointing out that the plaintiff never intended to stay in New York. As proof of this he points out that she vacated her New York apartment only a few hours after filing the complaint.

After reviewing the evidence submitted by both sides and caselaw, the court concluded that defendant failed to show that the plaintiff’s move to Pennsylvania evidences lack of intent to retain New York County as a permanent residence. Moving does not invalidate the fact that the plaintiff’s original intent to maintain residency in New York. There was no evidence that the plaintiff’s residency was contrived in order to get an advantageous venue. In fact, the plaintiff had lived in New York for two years prior to filing the claim.
Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion for a change of venue.

Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information