Strong v. C.R. England, Inc. et al
ORDER granting 4 Motion to Transfer Venue. This action is transferred to U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Signed by Judge Kristi K. DuBose on 12/14/2015. (cmj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ANNIE KATE STRONG,
C.R. ENGLAND, INC.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:15-00581-KD-M
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff and Defendant C.R. England, Inc. (England)’s
Motion to Transfer Venue to the Middle District of Alabama.
On August 5, 2014, Plaintiff (a resident citizen of Selma, Alabama) initially filed this suit
in Dallas County Circuit Court (Civil Action No. 2014-900212), against Defendant Raymond J.
Burge (Burge) (who operated a vehicle in Montgomery County, Alabama and is a resident
citizen of Roseville, Michigan).2
(Doc. 1-1; Doc. 1 at 2-3).
Thereafter, Plaintiff amended her
complaint to add Defendant England (a Utah corporation with its principal place of business in
Salt Lake City, Utah) who is alleged to have employed Burge.
Stemming from an
August 26, 2013 motor vehicle accident in Montgomery County, Alabama, Plaintiff’s amended
complaint asserts personal injuries due to the negligence/wantonness of Defendants Burge and
England, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
On November 16, 2015, Defendant
1 Defendant Burge neither consented nor joined in this removal. While Defendant Burge is listed as a
defendant on this Court’s docket sheet, on Defendant England’s Notice of Removal, and on the state court’s docket
sheet, he is not actually a party to either this case or the state court action. Specifically, a review of the Dallas
County Circuit Court filings indicates that while attempts were made, Defendant Burge was never served with
process in the state court case. As such, Defendant Burge was never made a party to the state court case, and thus,
he is also not a party to the federal case before the undersigned. Indeed, in the Removal, Defendant England states
“Burge has never been served in this matter.” (Doc. 1 at 2).
2 Defendant First Acceptance Insurance Company was also an original defendant in the state court case,
however, that party was dismissed in state court. As alleged, First Acceptance is not an Alabama corporation, does
not have a principal place of business in Alabama. (Doc. 1 at 2).
England timely removed this case to this Court based on federal diversity jurisdiction (Doc. 1),
and in its Answer also filed on that date (Doc. 2), raised the affirmative defenses of improper
venue and forum non conveniens.
On December 7, 2015, Plaintiff and Defendant England
jointly filed a motion to transfer venue of this case, as proper and more convenient, to the Middle
District of Alabama, adding that the interests of judicial economy support a transfer.
Plaintiff and Defendant England specify that the accident occurred in Montgomery, Montgomery
County, Alabama, and that such is where the accident investigators, first responders, medical
records, and medical providers are all located.
Questions of venue in the district courts are governed by statute.
28 U.S.C. § 1391.
Per 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may transfer a civil action to any other district court in
which the action could have originally been filed, “[f]or the convenience of parties and
witnesses.” Section 1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the district court “to adjudicate
motions for transfer according to an ‘individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience
and fairness.’” Stewart Organization, Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (citation
As explained in Credit Bureau Servs., Inc. v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 2012 WL
6102068, *22-23 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 7, 2012) (citations omitted):
The transfer statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), provides that “[f]or the convenience of the
parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil
action to any other district or divisions where it might have been brought.” The proponent
of a transfer of venue bears the burden of demonstrating entitlement.…
Courts employ a two-step process to analyze whether a motion for transfer should be
granted….First, the court must assess whether the action could have been brought in the
venue to which transfer is sought….Second, the court determines whether convenience
and the interest of justice “require transfer to the requested forum.” …Courts have broad
discretion in determining whether a case should be transferred under this provision….
An action “might have been brought” in any court that has subject matter jurisdiction,
where venue is proper and where the defendant is amenable to process issuing out of the
…..the Court focuses its analysis on…convenience and interest of justice. In doing so,
the Court takes into consideration the following factors: (1) the convenience of the
witnesses; (2) the location of relevant documents and the relative ease of access to
sources of proof; (3) the convenience of the parties; (4) the locus of operative facts; (5)
the availability of process to compel the attendance of unwilling witnesses; (6) the
relative means of the parties; (7) a forum's familiarity with the governing law; (8) the
weight accorded a plaintiff's choice of forum; and (9) trial efficiency and the interests of
justice, based on the totality of the circumstances.
Section 1391(b) specifies where a case could have been filed.
Specifically, “[a] civil action
may be brought in-- (1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are
residents of the State in which the district is located; (2) a judicial district in which a substantial
part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property
that is the subject of the action is situated; or (3) if there is no district in which an action may
otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is
subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.”
First, the Court must determine whether the action could have been brought in the Middle
District. This entails analyzing whether the proposed transferee court: 1) has subject matter
jurisdiction; 2) venue is proper; and 3) the defendant is amenable to process in that court.
Windmere Corp. v. Remington Prods., Inc., 617 F.Supp. 8, 10 (S.D. Fla. 1985).
The Court is
satisfied that the action could have been brought in the Middle District, as that is the location of
the motor vehicle accident and where the accident investigators, first responders, medical
records, and medical providers are located.
Additionally, the Middle District has: 1) has subject
matter jurisdiction based on federal diversity, 28 U.S.C § 1332; 2) venue is proper per 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391(b)(2) as the Middle District “in a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events
or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred[;]” and 3) Defendant England appears amenable to
process issuing out of the Middle District.
Second, based on the Plaintiff and Defendant England’s joint representations, these
parties concur that convenience and the interest of justice (convenience of witnesses/parties,
locus of operative facts, location of relevant documents/proof, etc.) support transfer to the
“[A]side from the plaintiff's own choice of forum, the most important factor in
passing on a motion to transfer under § 1404(a) is the convenience of the witnesses.”
Bartronics, Inc. v. Power–One, Inc., 510 F.Supp.2d 634, 637 (S.D. Ala. 2007) (internal quotation
marks and alteration omitted).
Moreover, Plaintiff filed her action in Dallas County, Alabama.
Although this Court
recognizes that normally the Plaintiff’s choice of forum should be shown a good deal of
deference, see First Financial Bank v. CS Assets, LLC, 2009 WL 1211360, *5 (S.D. Ala. May 4,
2009), in the instant case, Plaintiff’s choice is less persuasive in light of the fact that the plaintiff
agrees to transfer of venue to the Middle District: “Plaintiff is in agreement with Defendant that
venue of this case is proper and more convenient in the Middle District” and that in the interests
of judicial economy, the case should be transferred to that Court.
(Doc. 4 at 2).
Upon consideration, it is ORDERED that Plaintiff and Defendant England’s Motion to
Transfer Venue to the Middle District (Doc. 4) is GRANTED and this action is accordingly
TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.3
DONE and ORDERED this the 14th day of December 2015.
/s/Kristi K. DuBose
KRISTI K. DuBOSE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
3 “The standard for transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) leaves much to the broad discretion of the trial
court, and once a trial judge decides that transfer of venue is or is not justified, the ruling can be overturned only for
clear abuse of discretion.” Trace-Wilco, Inc. v. Symantec Corp., 2009 WL 455432, *1 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 23,
2009)(citing Brown v. Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co., 934 F.2d 1193, 1197 (11th Cir. 1991)).
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