In its unreported opinion dated March 18, 2021, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (“Maryland Appellate Court”), affirmed the transfer of a Maryland medical malpractice case originally filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, concluding: “Based on a review of the record, we conclude that the circuit court properly considered the relevant factors in assessing whether to transfer the case to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. The court noted, among other things, that the alleged medical malpractice occurred in Baltimore County, where GBMC provides obstetrical care, where GBMC’s party representative works and lives, and where many of the physical records would be stored if needed for trial. Although Jordan asserts that Baltimore City is a more convenient forum for him, the circuit court acted within its discretion in finding that any such convenience was mitigated because (1) he actually lives in Baltimore County or (2) he commuted to school in Baltimore County and spent significant time there. The court, after considering all the facts, did not abuse its discretion in transferring the case to Baltimore County.”
Forum Non Conveniens
Maryland Rule 2-327(c) provides: “On motion of any party, the court may transfer any action to any other circuit court where the action might have been brought if the transfer is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and serves the interests of justice.” The Rule confers on a circuit court the discretionary power to transfer even if the transferring court is a proper venue. When ruling on a motion to transfer a case to another jurisdiction, courts give deference to the plaintiff’s choice of venue. The plaintiff’s entitlement to pick the forum is accounted for in the relatively high burden that a defendant must overcome to successfully transfer the case.
When determining whether to grant a motion to transfer for forum non conveniens under Md. Rule 2-327(c), the circuit court must weigh the convenience of the parties and witnesses as well as the interests of justice. The interests of justice component is comprised of two factors, public interests and private interests. Private interests include the relative ease of access to sources of proof; availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling, and the cost of obtaining attendance of willing, witnesses; possibility of view of premises, if view would be appropriate to the action; and all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive. With regard to the private interests in the case it was deciding, the Maryland Appellate Court stated: “The court thoroughly analyzed the private interests based on the evidence presented by the parties, and the court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the private interests weighed in favor of transfer.”
With regard to the public interests, the Maryland Appellate Court stated: “The circuit court here similarly found that neither the strained court system of Baltimore City nor its jurors should be burdened with a trial involving a matter that was of more concern to the citizens of Baltimore County.”
Source Guy v. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Inc., No. 0475 September Term, 2020.
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