RSUI Indemnity Company v. Sealy Realty Company, Inc.
OPINION AND ORDER that defendants Sealy Realty Company, Inc. and Tuscaloosa Realty Company, Inc.'s motion to transfer venue 14 is granted and this lawsuit is transferred in its entirety to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Any other pending motion is left for resolution after transfer. The clerk of the court is DIRECTED to take appropriate steps to effect the transfer. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 1/25/2012. (jg, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
RSUI INDEMNITY COMPANY,
SEALY REALTY COMPANY, INC., )
and TUSCALOOSA REALTY
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff RSUI Indemnity Company, a Georgia-based
insurance provider, brings this action for declaratory
judgment against defendants Sealy Realty Company and
determination of RSUI’s liability under the terms of an
The case is now before the court on
the realty companies’ motion to transfer venue.
reasons that follow, that motion will be granted and this
case will be transferred to the Northern District of
apartment complex in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a city within
the Northern District of Alabama.
Sealy Realty Company
is the first named insured on an insurance policy from
RSUI protecting the owners of that complex.
The crux of
the dispute is whether RSUI’s liability is capped at the
aggregated listed building value of all of the RSUIinsured buildings damaged by the tornado.
MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE
“For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the
interest of justice, a district court may transfer any
civil action to any other district or division where it
might have been brought.”
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
courts are vested with “broad discretion in weighing the
Thompson Indus., 856 F.2d 1518, 1520 (11th Cir. 1988),
and may properly transfer a case to “the forum in which
judicial resources could most efficiently be utilized and
the place in which the trial would be [easiest, and] most
expeditious and inexpensive.”
C.M.B. Foods, Inc. v.
Corral of Middle Ga., 396 F. Supp. 2d 1283, 1286 (M.D.
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Stewart Org. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29
(1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622
(1964)). First, the court must determine whether the
proposed transferee district court.”
Folkes v. Haley, 64
F. Supp. 2d 1152, 1155 (M.D. Ala. 1999) (DeMent, J.).
convenience favors transfer.”
Id. (internal quotation
transferred to the Northern District of Alabama.
undisputed that RSUI could have brought suit in that
organized under the laws of this State, and venue would
also be proper because “a substantial part of the events
or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” in that
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
Because both venue and jurisdiction would be proper
in the Northern District, the only question before this
court is whether transfer “for the convenience of the
parties [and] in the interest of justice” is appropriate.
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); Folkes, 64 F. Supp. 2d at 1155.
court concludes that the realty companies have carried
their burden of demonstrating that those considerations
weigh heavily in favor of transfer.
The balance of convenience favors transfer to the
Northern District, which is where the property itself,
the people responsible for its management, and the site
Furthermore, nearly all of the witnesses and
evidence that the realty companies are likely to rely on
at trial are located in the Northern District, meaning
that it would be substantially easier for the realty
companies to present their evidence in that district than
it would be for them to present the same evidence in this
On the other hand, only the original contract
outside the Northern District.
But even they are not in
the Middle District of Alabama, but rather in Atlanta,
As a result, there is no material difference in
convenience for RSUI if the case is moved to the Northern
District: It is just as easy (if not easier) to get
documents and witness from Atlanta to Birmingham as it is
to get them from Atlanta to Montgomery.
Alabama attorney in this case--including RSUI’s local
counsel--has his or her office in the Northern District.
It would undoubtedly be easier for them to litigate this
case in that district than it would for them to travel to
required in court.
None of the convenience offered by the Northern
District is available without a transfer, for this case
has absolutely no connection to the Middle District.
None of the evidence and no witnesses are located here;
and neither the parties nor the underlying events have
any material ties to this district.
It would therefore
litigate this case in the Northern District.
transported electronically, rather than around testimony
from live witnesses, and it is therefore unlikely that
one location will be substantially more convenient than
But this argument assumes improperly that the
court will find the contract unambiguous and therefore
rule based on what RSUI identifies as its plain language.
Put another way, this case is a simple one only if RSUI
is correct, and that determination has not yet been made.
Moreover, even if this case could be resolved without any
witness testimony, it does not alter the fact that this
case is intimately tied to the Northern District and
wholly unconnected to the Middle District and therefore
transfer is certain to offer some efficiency gains, even
if related to only convenience of counsel located in that
The interests of justice also favor transfer.
factor that weighs heavily in this case is the local
interest in deciding local controversies.
Egypt Co. v. Biomune Co., 777 F. Supp. 2d 802, 810 (D.
Del. 2011) (Stark, J.) (“the local interest in deciding
local controversies” is a factor to consider in resolving
a motion to transfer venue); 32A Am. Jur. 2d Federal
Courts § 1271 (same).
This litigation arises out of the
devastating tornadoes that swept through the Northern
District of Alabama in April 2011.
This was no small
event for that community, which retains a strong interest
McDonough, 2010 WL 3222498, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 13,
2010) (Hoeveler, J.) (“To determine whether the interest
of justice and the convenience of the parties are met by
a transfer, courts weigh a number of factors, including
... whether the claims arose elsewhere.”).
reason to try this case outside of that district, this
interest should be protected.
RSUI responds by arguing that this court should defer
to the plaintiff’s choice of forum.
Doing so would be
See Robinson v. Giarmarco &
appropriate in many cases.
Bill, P.C., 74 F.3d 253, 260 (11th Cir. 1996).
a local entity seeking to litigate this case on its home
turf, considerable deference would be due.
RSUI had sought out a forum with some connection to the
transfer, particularly if doing so “would merely shift
inconvenience from the defendants to the plaintiff.”
But here only minimal deference is required because RSUI
brought suit outside its home forum and in a district
with no connection to the dispute.
Tech. & Telecomms., L.P. v. Alltel Corp., 508 F. Supp. 2d
1186, 1189 (S.D. Fla. 2007) (Moore, J.) (“[W]here a
plaintiff has chosen a forum that is not its home forum,
considerably easier to satisfy the burden of showing that
other considerations make transfer proper.”).
therefore substantially easier for the deference due
convenience and justice do substantially outweigh RSUI’s
selection of the Middle District of Alabama and compel
this court to transfer the case to the Northern District.
defendants Sealy Realty Company, Inc. and Tuscaloosa
Realty Company, Inc.’s motion to transfer venue (doc. no.
14) is granted and this lawsuit is transferred in its
entirety to the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Alabama.
Any other pending motion is left for resolution after
appropriate steps to effect the transfer.
DONE, this the 25th day of January, 2012.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?