Defense Digest, Vol. 30, No. 1, March 2024

Pennsylvania Superior Court Discounts Big-Box Retail Sales for Determining Venue

Key Points:

  • Superior Court decision in Walton v. Baby Trend provides relief from pro-plaintiff venue decisions. 
  • For court venue purposes, where a company does regular business does not include its product sales in big-box retail stores.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has held that, for court venue purposes, where a company does regular business does not include its product sales in big-box retail stores. This pro-defendant decision in Walton v. Baby Trend, Inc., 2024 WL 133697 (Pa. Super. Jan. 12, 2024), was issued shortly after a November Pennsylvania Supreme Court pro-plaintiff venue decision in Hangey v. Husqvarna Professional Products, Inc., 304 A.3d 1120 (Pa. 2023), that made it easier to bring suit in preferred venues. 

The plaintiff in Walton v. Baby Trend attempted to bring suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Mr. Walton, a Bucks County resident, brought a product liability suit over the alleged death of his infant daughter who suffocated in her car seat, which was manufactured by Baby Trend. Baby Trend did not have a physical presence in Philadelphia. However, it derived 5% of its annual gross national business from its sales in big-box Philadelphia retailers. 

The Superior Court discounted the big-box retail sales in calculating Baby Trend’s connection to Philadelphia. The court opined, “Once Baby Trend sells its products to big-box retailers, it has no control where the retailers sell the products.” Once the big-box sales were discounted, Baby Trend’s sales in Philadelphia comprised less than 1% of its total sales. There was no other connection to Philadelphia. The Superior Court then upheld the trial court’s ruling transferring the case to Bucks County because it concluded Baby Trend did not do “regular business” in Philadelphia. 

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is long recognized, year after year, as one of the nation’s premier “Judicial Hell Holes.” It has gained this reputation for excessive verdicts and an overall plaintiff-friendly judiciary. 

The recent Superior Court ruling in Walton provides certain businesses with an argument to use to gain relief from the unfavorable Pennsylvania venues – by showing lack of regular business activity. This decision bucks the previous trend from the Supreme Court that has made it easier for plaintiffs to bring suits in their venue of choice. 

*John is shareholder in our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, office. He can be reached at (717) 651-3515 or


Defense Digest, Vol. 30, No. 1, March 2024, is prepared by Marshall Dennehey to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING pursuant to New York RPC 7.1. © 2024 Marshall Dennehey. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm. For reprints, contact