Foster et al v. Judicial Correction Services, Inc. et al
OPINION AND ORDER denying 14 MOTION to Transfer. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 11/14/2012. (wcl, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
LISA FOSTER et al.,
SERVICES, INC., and
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
This cause is before the court on a motion for change
Companies, Inc. (“CHC”).
For the reasons that follow,
the motion will be denied.
In this suit, plaintiffs claim that JCS coerced them
Plaintiffs charge that JCS collected these
fines and fees in excess of its authority as a private
According to plaintiffs, JCS held itself
out as a law enforcement agency, when it is in fact a
CHC is a successor to JCS.
JCS and CHC seek transfer of this action pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1404.
Section 1404(a) authorizes a district
court to transfer a civil action to any other district in
which it might have been brought “for the convenience of
the parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.”
Because federal courts normally accord deference to a
plaintiff’s choice of forum in a motion under § 1404, the
burden is on the movant to show the suggested forum is
In re Ricoh Corp., 870 F.2d 570, 573
(11th Cir. 1989) (per curiam).
However, a district court
(citation omitted); see also Brown v. Conn. Gen. Life
Ins. Co., 934 F.2d 1193, 1197 (11th Cir. 1988) (leaving
decision to transfer “to the sound discretion of the
A court faced with a motion to transfer
consideration of convenience and fairness.”
(quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)).
A district court judge may properly transfer a case to
efficiently be utilized and the place in which the trial
would be most ‘easy, expeditious, and inexpensive.’”
Howell v. Tanner, 650 F.2d 610, 616 (5th Cir. July 13,
1981)* (quoting Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501,
508 (1947)) cert. denied, 456 U.S. 918 (1982).
JCS and CHC argue that the Northern District of
Alabama is a more convenient forum because three of the
five plaintiffs to this action reside in the Northern
Furthermore, these three plaintiffs engaged
* In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209
(11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit adopted
as binding precedent all of the decisions of the former
Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business
September 30, 1981.
with JCS and CHC through probation offices located in the
Thus, JCS and CHC argue that the
center of this action is the Northern District.
However, two of the five plaintiffs reside in the
Middle District of Alabama, and their disputes with JCS
and CHC occurred through probation offices in the Middle
plaintiffs is located in the Middle District.
balance of convenience weighs only slightly towards the
Further undercutting JCS and CHC’s
argument is the fact that the plaintiffs who reside in
the Northern District submitted affidavits attesting that
the Middle District is actually a more convenient forum
The plaintiffs also state that an additional
plaintiff, residing in the Middle District, is expected
to join this action.
This anticipated plaintiff engaged
with JCS and CHC through probation offices in the Middle
For these reasons, the court finds that JCS
and CHC have not shown sufficient reason to disregard the
plaintiffs’ choice of forum.
Finally, JCS and CHC seek transfer so that this case
may be consolidated with another action pending in the
Judicial Correction Services, Inc., et al., No. 2:12-CV02819 (“Ray action”).
Because the Ray action was filed
seven days after the instant case, JCS and CHC must show
“compelling circumstances” warrant transfer. “In absence
of compelling circumstances, the court initially seized
of a controversy should be the one to decide the case.”
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Haydu, 675
F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1982) (citing Mann Mfg., Inc.
v. Hortex, Inc., 439 F.2d 403 (5th Cir. 1971)).
should make no difference whether the competing courts
are both federal courts or a state and federal court with
undisputed concurrent jurisdiction.”
JCS and CHC have not demonstrated that compelling
circumstances justify dispensing with the first-to-file
rule in this case.
JCS and CHC point out that, in
Barnett v. Alabama, 171 F. Supp. 2d, 1292 (S.D. Ala.
2001), a court in the Southern District transferred an
action to the Middle District even though the action in
the Southern District was filed first.
However, in that
case a three-judge panel had been convened first in the
Middle District, a fact the court found to favor transfer
Furthermore, the action centered around evidence and
witnesses located wholly in the state capital, and thus
in the Middle District.
In contrast, all the evidence
relating to two out of five (and potentially three out of
six) plaintiffs to this suit is located in the Middle
District of Alabama.
The court can find no compelling
circumstances to justify disregarding the rule that the
district wherein an action was first filed should be the
district that decides it.
Accordingly, it is the ORDER of the court that the
motion to transfer (Doc. No. 14) filed by defendants
Healthcare Companies, Inc., is denied.
DONE, this the 14th day of November, 2012.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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