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Superior Court Finds New Jersey Company Subject To Pennsylvania Jurisdiction

Attached is the link to the Pennsylvania Superior Court opinion from March 20, 2012 in  Schiavone v. Aveta.  This is a case dealing with the personal jurisdiction of a New Jersey company after one of its employees was involved in a car accident in Pike County, Pennsylvania.  The Plaintiff Schiavone was injured in the car accident with Kenneth Arnoul (Arnoul). The auto accident occurred in Pike County, Pennsylvania while Arnoul was driving home from completing his work day as an employee of Aveta in New Jersey. 

The vehicle Arnoul was driving was owned and insured by Aveta and Aveta provided the vehicle to Arnoul for use to take home and also to drive on his way to work to appointments.

The trial court granted Aveta’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The trial court reasoned that Aveta did not have sufficient contacts to Pennsylvania and the mere use of a company vehicle to drive to and from work in Pennsylvania does not establish minimum contacts necessary for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction. Schiavone appealed. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania reverses and finds that such contacts exist and personal jurisdiction should be exercised. 

The court finds that even though Arnoul was driving home from work, based upon the record, he was still furthering the interests of his employer Aveta and thus the “employment contract” exception to the “coming and going rule” applies. Since the exception applies there is sufficient evidence to establish jurisdiction under the Pennsylvania Long-Arm Statute.  Then the court reviews whether it would comport with constitutional principles of due process to exercise jurisdiction. It finds that it would do so.  Thus, the trial court order is reversed.

Scott B. Cooper

Schmidt Kramer PC

209 State Street

Harrisburg, PA 17101

(717) 232-6300 – Telephone

(717) 232-6467 – Facsimile