Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Appeals Court Rejects Jehovah's Witnesses Venue Transfer As Delay Tactic

In Fessler v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., (PA Super. Ct., Dec. 30, 2015), a Pennsylvania state appellate court held that a trial court abused its discretion in transferring a sexual abuse case against Jehovah's Witness organizations from Philadelphia County to York County. Plaintiff in the case alleged that as a teenager she was sexually abused by a middle-aged woman (also a defendant) whom she met through a Jehovah's Witness congregation.  The defendants' change of venue motion was granted just two weeks before trial was to begin, and after discovery had taken place.  The transfer was to the county with the largest civil case backlog in Pennsylvania.  The court concluded that the motion was a bad-faith "last-minute gambit to delay trial." Reveal reports on the decision.