McQuay v. Tennessee Valley Authority et al
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART 9 Motion to Dismiss Case for Lack of Jurisdiction, or in the Alternative, to Transfer the Case to the District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The portion of the Motion requesting transfer to the District Court for the Western District of Kentucky is GRANTED. Because transfer is appropriate, the Court need not address the issue of personal jurisdiction raised by the motion, thus the portion of the motion requesting dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction is DENIED as moot. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that this action is TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. Signed by Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel on 8/7/2017. (jkb2)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY,
a federal corporation, and INLAND
MARINE SERVICE, INC., a corporation, )
Case No. 16-CV-1068-NJR-RJD
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge:
A Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, or in the Alternative, to
Transfer is pending before this Court. For the reasons set for below, Defendant
Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
or in the Alternative, to Transfer the Case is granted in part and denied in part.
Specifically, the portion of TVA’s Motion requesting transfer to the United States District
Court is granted. Finding transfer is appropriate, the Court need not address the issue of
personal jurisdiction raised by the motion.
On September 23, 2014, Timothy McQuay was working as a deckhand for
Defendant Inland Marine Services (Inland Marine) when the barge he was working on
was making a delivery to TVA’s Paradise Fossil Plant. (Doc. 7, ¶¶ 7-8). The Paradise
Fossil Plant is located in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. (Doc. 7, ¶ 7). During the
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process of unloading coal, a wire broke apart and struck McQuay’s lower leg, causing
disabling and permanent injuries. (Doc. 7, ¶ 7). McQuay has brought one claim against
TVA, alleging his injuries are the result of the negligence of TVA’s agents, servants, and
employees. (Doc. 7, pp. 3-5). McQuay also has brought two claims against Inland Marine
for negligence and/or unseaworthiness pursuant to Title 46 U.S.C., §688, et seq.,
commonly called the Jones Act, and the General Maritime Law of the United States.
(Doc. 7, pp. 9-11). One of those claims relates to the September 23 incident that forms the
same basis as the claim against TVA. 1 (Doc. 7, pp. 5-9).
McQuay resides in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Doc. 7, ¶ 1). Defendant TVA is a
constitutionally authorized executive branch corporate agency created by and existing
pursuant to the TVA Act of 1933, as amended, 16 U.S.C. §§ 831 (2012). TVA’s principal
office is in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and its executive offices are in Knoxville, Tennessee.
(Doc. 10, p. 5). Defendant Inland Marine is a corporation organized pursuant to the laws
of the State of Kentucky, whose registered agent is located in Hebron, Kentucky.
(Doc. 7, ¶ 3).
On December 5, 2016, TVA filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal
Jurisdiction, or in the Alternative, to Transfer the Case to the District Court for the
Western District of Kentucky. (Doc. 9). The parties, who have extensively briefed this
The second claim against Inland Marine relates to an incident on November 20, 2015, in Henderson
County, Kentucky, where McQuay slipped and injured his shoulder allegedly due to the negligence and
unseaworthiness of Inland Marine’s vessel. (Doc. 7, pp. 9-11). This second claim is raised solely against
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issue, 2 disagree about which law is applicable to the Court’s determination of either
venue or personal jurisdiction. The Court finds the proper venue statute to be applied is
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), and thus this action should have been brought in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.
I. Proper Venue Statute
Determination of which venue statute applies is dispositive here. McQuay argues
the general venue statute 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e) is applicable in this case. (Doc. 16, p. p.2-3). 3
28 U.S.C. § 1391(e) provides in pertinent part that:
(1) In general.—A civil action in which a defendant is an…agency of the
United States, may, except as otherwise provided by law, be brought in
any judicial district in which (A) a defendant in the action resides, (B) a
substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim
occurred…, or (C) the plaintiff resides if no real property is involved in the
The parties agree that TVA qualifies as an executive branch corporate agency. (Doc. 7, p.
2; Doc. 10, ¶ 2). Because neither defendant is a resident of Illinois, and the events giving
rise to the claims all occurred in Kentucky, the only basis for venue in this Court under
§ 1391(e)(1) would be (C)—the district where the plaintiff resides. As noted above,
McQuay resides in Murphysboro, Illinois (Doc. 7, ¶ 1), which is located in one of the
counties served by the Southern District of Illinois. As a result, if § 1391(e) is applicable
in this case, venue would lie with this Court.
TVA filed a Memorandum in Support of its original motion (Doc. 10), a Reply in Further Support
(Doc. 19), a Supplemental Reply (Doc. 43), and a Supplemental Reply to Plaintiff’s Supplemental Response
(Doc. 49). McQuay filed a Memorandum in Opposition to TVA’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16), a Response
to TVA’s Response (Doc. 34), a Sur Reply (Doc. 36), and a Supplemental Response (Doc. 46).
McQuay uses the venue statute found at 28 U.S.C. §1391(e) to form the basis of his personal jurisdiction
claim. (Doc. 16, pp. 2-3). The Court does not address the merits of that claim here, but rather infers from
McQuay’s argument that he considers this statute to provide the proper basis for venue as well.
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TVA counters, however, that 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e) is not applicable. (Doc. 49, p. 4).
TVA was created by federal statute in 1933. 16 U.S.C. §§ 831 (2012). That statute
specifically states that TVA is “an inhabitant and resident of the northern judicial district
of Alabama within the meaning of the laws of the United States relating to venue of civil
suits.” 16 U.S.C. § 831(g)(a) (emphasis added).
In 1962, twenty-nine years after the creation of TVA, Congress passed 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391(e), which broadened venue choices in civil actions where the defendant is an
officer, employee, or agency of the United States. 14D Arthur R. Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc.
Juris. § 3815 (4th ed. 2017). Prior to the 1962 legislation, the Supreme Court had held only
the District of Columbia had authority to issue mandamus against federal officers.
Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 527, 533-34 (1980). As a result, individuals from different parts
of the country often suffered significant expense to bring their claims against federal
officers or agencies in the District of Columbia. Id. at 534. The 1962 bill was intended to
“make it possible to bring actions against Government officials and agencies in U.S.
district courts outside the District of Columbia which…may now be brought only in...the
District of Columbia.” Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. at 539-40 (emphasis added); see also
Sen.Rep.No. 1992, 87th Cong., 2d Sess., 2 (1962); H.R.Rep.No. 536, 87th Cong., 1st Sess., 1
Unlike actions in mandamus, venue in suits against TVA was not limited to the
District of Columbia prior to the addition of § 1391(e). Further, Congress’s express intent
was that § 1391(e) would not change previously established definitions of
residence. Sen.Rep.No. 1992, 87th Cong., 2d Sess., 2 (1962); Reuben H. Donnelley Corp. v.
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F.T.C., 580 F.2d 264, 267 (7th Cir. 1978). Congress had specifically identified the Northern
Judicial District of Alabama to be TVA’s residence for purposes of venue, 16 U.S.C.
§ 831(g)(a), and that venue was not changed by § 1391(e); thus, other courts have found
Congress did not intend for § 1391(e) to be applicable to TVA. Jones v. U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Com’n, 654 F.Supp. 130, 131 (D.D.C. 1987); Natural Resources Defense Council,
Inc. v. Tennessee Val. Authority, 459 F.2d 255, 259 (2d Cir. 1972) (“concerned members of
the House of Representatives acted on the assurance of the bill’s manager that the TVA
would not be subject…”). This Court agrees and finds 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e) is not the
proper statute for determining venue in this action. Therefore, the determination of
proper venue should proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
II. Venue Determination
Under the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), 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; (3) if there is no district in which an
action may otherwise be brought, then venue can lie in any judicial district in which any
defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.
The Southern District of Illinois does not meet these criteria. Defendant TVA is a
resident of Alabama per Congressional decree. 16 U.S.C. § 831(g)(a). Since at least one
defendant is not a resident of this jurisdiction, § 1391(b)(1) does not provide a basis for
venue. Further, none of the events giving rise to the claims in the Amended Complaint
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took place in this Court’s jurisdiction. Rather, all of those events took place in the
Western District Court of Kentucky. (Doc. 7, ¶ 8). Thus, under § 1391(b)(1), venue is
proper in the Western District of Kentucky rather than this Court. 4
When venue is not proper in the filed district, 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) allows the court
to either dismiss or, in the interest of justice, transfer the case to any district or division in
which it could have been brought. Saylor v. Dyniewski, 836 F.2d 341, 345 (7th Cir. 1988).
When it is clear where proper venue can be laid, courts will generally transfer the case
rather than dismiss. Metropa Co., Ltd. v. Choi, 458 F.Supp. 1052, 1055-56 (S.D.N.Y. 1978);
United States v. Miller-Stauch Constr. Co., Inc., 904 F. Supp. 1209, 1214 (D. Kan. 1995). As
discussed above, the incidents giving rise to the claims in this case all occurred within
the Western District of Kentucky. Further, while not all, several of the doctors 5 who
treated McQuay and witnesses 6 to the various incidents reside in Kentucky. The Court
finds, therefore, that it is in the interest of justice to transfer this case to the Western
District of Kentucky, rather than dismiss it.
For the reasons set forth above, TVA’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal
Jurisdiction or in the Alternative, to Transfer the Case (Doc. 9) is GRANTED in part and
DENIED in part. The portion of TVA’s Motion requesting transfer to the United States
District Court is GRANTED. Because transfer is appropriate, the Court need not address
Personal jurisdiction can form the basis for venue only where no other basis for venue exists. Because
venue can be determined under § 1391(b)(2), whether venue could also lie under § 1391(b)(3) is irrelevant.
McQuay identifies Dr. Heinrich and Dr. O’Neill as residing in Indiana; Dr. Blaise, Dr. Alam, Dr. Parker,
Dr. Hill, and Dr. Neely as residing in Illinois; and Dr. Rhodes and Dr. Haleman as residing in Kentucky.
(Doc. 16, pp. 5-6).
McQuay identifies William Chinn as residing in Tennessee, Neadam Benefield as residing in Southeast
Missouri, Kenny Anderson as residing near the Paradise Fossil Plaint in Kentucky, and Robert Roebuck as
also residing in Kentucky. (Doc. 16, p. 5).
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the issue of personal jurisdiction raised by the motion, thus the portion of TVA’s motion
requesting dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction is DENIED as moot. Accordingly, it
is ORDERED that this action is TRANSFERRED to the Western District of Kentucky.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: August 7, 2017
NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL
United States District Judge
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