Lipnick v. United Air Lines, Inc. et al

Filing 43

ORDER GRANTING 21 MOTION TO TRANSFER CASE TO THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA. Signed by Judge Claudia Wilken on 9/9/2011. (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/9/2011)

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1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 5 LEWIS LIPNICK and LYNN-JANE FOREMAN LIPNICK, 8 9 v. UNITED AIR LINES, INC. and DEUTSCHE LUFTHANSA AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT, Defendants. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER CASE TO THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA Plaintiffs, 6 7 No. C 11-2028 CW ________________________________/ INTRODUCTION Defendants United Air Lines, Inc. and Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft move to transfer this action to the Eastern District of Virginia or, alternatively, to the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs oppose the motion. Having considered the papers submitted by the parties, the Court finds it in the interest of justice to GRANT Defendants' motion to transfer the action to the Eastern District of Virginia. BACKGROUND Plaintiff Lewis Lipnick filed his initial action in the Superior Court of California. He asserted claims under the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention) and alleged negligence against Defendants for injuries he sustained in Munich, Germany, while embarking on United Air Lines Flight 903 destined for Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. Defendants removed the case to district court on the basis of diversity and federal 1 question jurisdiction. Plaintiff Lewis Lipnick's wife, Lynn-Jane 2 Foreman Lipnick, joined the action in the First Amended Complaint, 3 alleging damages for loss of consortium. 4 of Falls Church, Virginia. 5 § 1404(a) to transfer the case. Plaintiffs are residents Defendants now move under 28 U.S.C. LEGAL STANDARD 6 “For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the 7 8 interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil 9 action to any other district or division where it might have been United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Section 1404(a) accords a 11 district court broad discretion with respect to transferring a 12 case. 13 (citing Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 32 (1955)). 14 assessing whether to exercise its discretion to do so, a district 15 court considers the following: 16 (2) convenience of the witnesses; and (3) the interest of justice. 17 Id. 18 a court may consider in determining whether a change of venue 19 should be granted pursuant to § 1404(a): Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 31 (1988) In (1) convenience of the parties; The Ninth Circuit has identified numerous additional factors 20 (1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff’s choice of forum, (4) the respective parties’ contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff’s cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof. 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 28 2000). 2 1 The burden is on the defendant to show that the convenience 2 of parties and witnesses and the interests of justice require 3 transfer to another district. 4 Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir. 1979). 5 ruled that a Section 1404(a) analysis should be an 6 “individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and 7 fairness.” Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. The Supreme Court has Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964). DISCUSSION 8 Defendants have met their burden to show that the relevant 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 9 factors weigh in favor of transferring this case to the Eastern 11 District of Virginia. 12 The convenience of the parties does not merit much 13 consideration here. 14 and Defendants are corporations with extensive operations in each 15 forum. 16 Plaintiffs have chosen to sue in California, The convenience of the witnesses, however, weighs heavily in 17 favor of transfer. 18 convenience of witnesses often the most important factor in 19 deciding whether to transfer an action." 20 F. Supp. 2d 1080, 1083 (N.D. Cal. 2008); see also Kina v. United 21 Air Lines, Inc., 2008 WL 5071045, at *6 (N.D. Cal.). 22 Plaintiffs' identified witnesses reside in and around the Eastern 23 District of Virginia, and all but one member of the flight crew on 24 United Air Lines Flight 903 are domiciled in the Eastern District 25 of Virginia. 26 Courts in this district have called "the Getz v. Boeing Co., 547 All of The interest of justice relates to the use of judicial 27 resources, delay to the parties and the interests of the local 28 court. See Pratt v. Rowland, 769 F. Supp. 1128, 1133 (N.D. Cal. 3 1 1991). 2 where cases are resolved more quickly than in the Northern 3 District of California, will reduce delay to the parties. 4 Plaintiffs are Virginia residents, a Virginia court has a greater 5 interest in resolving this dispute than a California court does. 6 Moreover, it is consistent with the interest of justice to 7 transfer a case when the litigation has not progressed very far, 8 as is the case here. 9 WL 3157457, at *6 (N.D. Cal.). United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 Transferring the case to the Eastern District of Virginia, Because See Unisys Corp. v. Access Co., Ltd., 2005 The additional Ninth Circuit considerations also favor transfer. There is no evidence that one forum is more, or less, 13 familiar with the Montreal Convention; and California law does not 14 apply to this case except in a choice-of-law analysis. 15 Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 244 n.8 (1981). 16 Plaintiffs cite Kruger v. United Air Lines, Inc., 481 F. Supp. 2d 17 1005 (N.D. Cal. 2007), to support the contention that substantive 18 California law should apply here, it only applied in Kruger 19 because the incident giving rise to that cause of action occurred 20 during a flight between San Francisco, California, and Seattle, 21 Washington. See Piper Although 22 The plaintiffs' choice of forum, which is normally accorded 23 significant weight, is diminished in importance where the chosen 24 venue neither is the plaintiffs' residence nor has a significant 25 connection to the activities alleged. 26 v. Pence, 403 F.2d 949, 954 (9th Cir. 1968). 27 contacts with the respective forums, both generally and in 28 connection with the cause of action, are more closely tied to 4 Pacific Car & Foundry Co. The parties' 1 Virginia than to California. Plaintiffs are residents of 2 Virginia, and the operative facts occurred while one of them 3 embarked on a flight from Munich, Germany to Chantilly, Virginia. 4 The availability of compulsory process to compel the 5 attendance of unwilling witnesses favors moving the case to the 6 Eastern District of Virginia. 7 subpoena power only extends outside of its district if the place 8 of service is "within 100 miles of the place specified for the 9 depositions, hearing, trial, production or inspection." With rare exception, the Court's Fed. R. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Civ. P. 45(b)(2)(B). 11 Court's reach but within the subpoena power of the Eastern 12 District of Virginia. 13 All identified witnesses lie outside of this While ease of access to documentary information may be the 14 same between the two forums, moving the case to the Eastern 15 District of Virginia allows for easier access to witness 16 testimony. CONCLUSION 17 18 19 20 For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia is GRANTED. IT IS SO ORDERED. 21 22 23 Dated: CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge 24 25 26 27 28 5

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