The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, over a two-justice dissent, determined defendant doctor’s (Goldstein’s) motion to change the venue of this medical malpractice action from Bronx to Westchester County should not have been granted. The majority held the burden was on Goldstein to demonstrate the need for a change of venue and that burden was not met:
Plaintiff commenced this medical malpractice action in Bronx County, alleging that defendants were negligent in rendering podiatric care and treatment to her between April and September 2016. Defendants moved and cross-moved to transfer venue to Westchester County. WestMed and Rye submitted an affidavit of their medical director averring that Dr. Goldstein was one of their employees in Westchester. Dr. Goldstein submitted an affidavit averring that he had offices in Bronx County and Westchester County. He indicated that Westchester County was where his principal place of business was located because that was where he spent the majority of his time. However, he also averred that he maintained privileges at St. Barnabas Hospital and supervised podiatric residents at two St. Barnabas Hospital clinics where approximately 150 patients per month were seen. He averred that in addition he saw approximately 20-25 patients per week at a Bronx Park Medical pavilion located at 2016 Bronxdale Avenue in the Bronx.
Plaintiff is suing not only Westmed Medical Group, P.C. and Rye Ambulatory Surgery Center, LLC, but Dr. Goldstein individually. Since Dr. Goldstein is a party to the lawsuit, venue is proper in the county where he may be said to reside. CPLR 503(a) provides that the place of trial “shall be in the county in which one of the parties resided when it was commenced,” and, insofar as relevant here, “[a] party resident in more than one county shall be deemed a resident of each such county” … . Dr. Goldstein may also be viewed as an individually-owned business, and thus a resident of any county in which he has a principal office (CPLR 503[d]). Thus, an individually-owned business, much as a partnership, may be deemed a resident of the county where it has its principal office, as well as any county in which the individual owner being sued resides … . Siegel notes that the “principal office” county is an alternative; venue may still be based on the residence of natural-born parties … .
Applying these principles, Dr. Goldstein’s affidavit, attesting to residency in Westchester County but devoid of supporting documentation of residency, was insufficient to prove that plaintiff’s designation of Bronx County as venue was improper … . Lividini v Goldstein, 2019 NY Slip Op 06150, Fourth Dept 8-20-19