Curtis v. Nucor-Yamato Steel Company (Limited Partnership) et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 5 Motion to Dismiss; The Clerk is directed to transfer this action immediately to the Eastern District of Arkansas. Docket Sheet and case documents sent to receiving court electronically. Signed by Honorable Timothy L. Brooks on January 12, 2016. (rg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
CASE NO. 3:15-CV-3115
OPINION AND ORDER
Currently before the Court are Defendant Nucor Corporation’s (“Nucor”) Motion to
Dismiss for Improper Venue or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue (Doc. 5) and
Memorandum in Support (Doc. 6), Plaintiff Steve Curtis’s Response (Doc. 9), and Nucor’s
Reply (Doc. 10). For the reasons given below, Nucor’s Motion is DENIED as to the
request for dismissal and GRANTED as to the request for transfer.
On October 21, 2015, Mr. Curtis initiated this lawsuit by filing his Complaint in the
Circuit Court of Baxter County, Arkansas, alleging that Nucor—his former employer—
violated his rights under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act and the Family and Medical Leave
Act. Nucor removed the case to this Court on November 25, 2015. Six days later, on
December 1, Nucor filed the instant Motion pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3), arguing
that this case should either be dismissed for improper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b),
or transferred to the Eastern District of Arkansas for the convenience of the parties and
witnesses under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Nucor’s Motion is now ripe for decision.
The Court begins its analysis with the observation that—as Nucor more or less
concedes in its Reply—because this case was properly removed from state court, section
1391(b) does not apply and venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
Polizzi v. Cowles Magazines, Inc., 345 U.S. 663, 665 – 66 (1953). Thus, the question
before the Court is simply whether transferring this case to the Eastern District of
Arkansas would serve “the convenience of the parties and witnesses” and be “in the
interest of justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). “In general, federal courts give considerable
deference to a plaintiff’s choice of forum and thus the party seeking a transfer under
section 1404(a) typically bears the burden of proving that a transfer is warranted.” Terra
Intern., Inc. v. Mississippi Chemical Corp., 119 F.3d 688, 695 (8th Cir. 1997).
This Court has discretion under section 1404(a) “to adjudicate motions for transfer
according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.”
Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988). In so doing, the Court may
consider additional factors, of which “there is no exhaustive list,” beyond the convenience
of the parties and witnesses or the interest of justice. Terra Intern., Inc., 119 F.3d at 691.
Among the additional factors sometimes considered are “the availability of judicial
process to compel the attendance of unwilling witnesses, . . . the relative ease of access
to sources of proof, the possibility of delay . . . , and practical considerations indicating
where the case can be tried more expeditiously and inexpensively.” Houk v. KimberlyClark Corp., 613 F. Supp. 923, 927 (W.D. Mo. 1985). In cases where, as here, the plaintiff
is a resident of the forum district, a motion to transfer should be denied if the balance of
relevant factors “is equal or only slightly in favor of the movant” or if a transfer “would
merely shift the inconvenience from one party to another.” Id. at 927 – 28.
Here, on the one hand, Nucor contends that (1) all of the events at issue took place
in the Eastern District; (2) all of the witnesses—except Mr. Curtis’s damages witnesses—
live in or near the Eastern District; (3) many such witnesses will be located beyond this
Court’s subpoena range for trial; (4) a majority of the documents and evidence can be
found in the Eastern District; and (5) Mr. Curtis lives in Mountain Home, which is only
eighty miles farther from Jonesboro (in the Eastern District) than from Harrison (in the
Western District). Mr. Curtis counters, on the other hand, that (1) litigating in a foreign
district is much more burdensome for a self-employed individual such as Mr. Curtis than
for a large company such as Nucor; and (2) this Court is more likely to move this case
along in an expeditious manner, as it has traditionally had a lighter caseload and faster
docket than the Eastern District.
The Court, in turn, would note several things. First, although this case is in the
Harrison Division, if this Motion were denied then the hearings and trial in this case would
not be held in Harrison, but rather in Fayetteville, which is roughly the same distance from
Mountain Home as Jonesboro is. Second, although this Court would not have any
difficulty adopting a schedule roughly consistent with what is proposed in the parties’ Joint
Rule 26(f) Report (Doc. 12), this Court could only speculate, and simply has no way of
knowing, how expeditiously the Eastern District could process this case. Furthermore,
this case is still at such an early stage that a final case management order has not yet
even been entered. It appears to the Court, then, that the Eastern District probably would
not be any less convenient than the Western District for Mr. Curtis, and certainly would
be much more convenient than the Western District for Nucor and almost all of the
witnesses. Although Nucor’s burden is substantial, it has been met.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant Nucor Corporation’s Motion to
Dismiss for Improper Venue or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue (Doc. 5) is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART as follows: the Motion to Dismiss is denied,
and the Motion to Transfer is granted. The Clerk is directed to transfer this action
immediately to the Eastern District of Arkansas.
IT IS SO ORDERED on this 12th day of January, 2016.
_/s/ Timothy L. Brooks______________
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS
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?