Langford et al v. Wilkins et al
ORDER denying 62 Motion to Change Venue. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 1/17/2014. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PHYLLIS LANGFORD, et al.
Case No. 3:12-cv-00111 KGB
JIMMY WILKINS, individually and
in his official capacity as Superintendent and
HUGHES SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 27
Before the Court is defendants’ renewed motion to transfer venue (Dkt. No. 62), to which
plaintiffs responded in opposition (Dkt. No. 69). This case is currently set for trial in the
Jonesboro Division of the Eastern District of Arkansas, and defendants move to transfer the trial
to the Eastern Division of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Under federal law, any action may be transferred, in the discretion of the court, from the
division in which pending to any other division in the same district. When considering a
motion to transfer, a court must consider the convenience of the parties, the convenience
of the witnesses, and the interests of justice. However, a motion under § 1404(b) for
transfer within a district is judged by a less rigorous standard than a transfer to another
division under § 1404(a).
Sanders v. Lee Cnty. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 2008 WL 5423267, at *1 (E.D. Ark. Dec. 23, 2008) (citing
28 U.S.C. § 1404(b); Terra Int’l v. Miss. Chem. Corp., 119 F.3d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 1997);
Edwards v. Sanyo Mfg. Corp., 2007 WL 641412, at *1 (E.D. Ark. Feb. 27, 2007)).
Plaintiffs correctly state the law that federal courts give deference to a plaintiff’s choice
of forum and that the burden of proving the need for a transfer is on the defendants. See In re
Apple, Inc., 602 F.3d 909, 913 (8th Cir. 2010). Defendants, in attempting to meet their burden,
argue that the Eastern Division is the proper forum for trial because it is where the School
District is located, more convenient to defendant Jimmy Wilkins, and where the alleged events
took place. Plaintiffs respond by arguing that for both of the chief witnesses and all but one of
the nine plaintiffs the Jonesboro Division is more convenient.
Defendants also argue that, when a public institution is a party to a lawsuit affecting the
public interest, the interest of justice is best served when venue is had in the division where the
institution is located so local patrons can attend. See Sanders, 2008 WL at *1; Chaffin v.
Eichert, 2009 WL 47565, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 6, 2009). Plaintiffs respond by claiming without
any record support that few, if any, patrons of the school district attended defendant Hughes
School District’s last trial (Nassar, et al. v. Jackson, et al., US Dist. No. 3:11-cv-00133-SWW).
The Court agrees that where a defendant institution is located is one factor to be considered in a
motion to transfer venue but determines that this factor is not a single dispositive one.
Considered together, the Court finds the convenience of the parties, the convenience of
the witnesses, and the interests of justice do not clearly support having this case heard in the
Eastern Division over the Jonesboro Division. Accordingly, defendants have not met their
burden of proving the need for transfer. Defendants’ renewed motion to transfer venue is
therefore denied (Dkt. No. 62).
SO ORDERED this 17th day of January, 2014.
KRISTINE G. BAKER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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