Quaintance v. City of Columbia COMO Connect
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, ORDER OF TRANSFER TO WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's motion to transfer this action (ECFNo. 14 ) is sustained. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Plaintiff's pending motion for the appointment of counsel (ECF No. 17) is deferred to that court forconsideration.. Signed by Magistrate Judge David D. Noce on 01/17/17. (KKS) [Transferred from moed on 1/19/2017.]
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CITY OF COLUMBIA, MISSOURI,
No. 4:16 CV 1326 DDN
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
TRANSFERRING CASE TO WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
Defendant City of Columbia, Missouri, moves to dismiss this action under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) on the grounds of improper venue. (ECF No. 14). In
the alternative, defendant requests that this court transfer this case to the Western District
of Missouri pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). The parties have consented to the exercise
of plenary authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c).
For the following reasons, defendant’s motion to transfer the case is granted.
Plaintiff Hope Quaintance, a resident of Columbia, Missouri, brings this suit under
the Americans with Disabilities Act, alleging that defendant City of Columbia, Missouri,
discriminated against her on the basis of disability. (ECF No. 1). According to plaintiff’s
complaint, she worked as a city bus driver for defendant. Plaintiff does not claim that the
discriminatory conduct occurred at any location other than Columbia, Missouri. She
alleges that on April 4, 2014, she made a complaint to defendant alleging harassment by
her supervisor and other co-workers. On May 8, 2014, plaintiff saw her primary care
doctor, who considered her fit to work as a city bus driver with no restrictions. Id.
However, plaintiff alleges that on May 18, 2014, defendant required her to see a different
doctor, defendant’s own “Employee Health Medical Advisor.” This doctor restricted
plaintiff from driving. In June 2014, this doctor canceled plaintiff’s return-to-work exam.
Id. On August 25, 2014, defendant terminated plaintiff for the stated reason she was not
medically capable of performing the essential functions of her job. Id. Plaintiff filed a
charge of discrimination against defendant with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) on May 21, 2015. Id. On May 19, 2016, the EEOC issued
plaintiff a right-to-sue letter. Plaintiff filed the present suit in the Eastern District of
Missouri on August 15, 2016. Id.
Venue for a civil action is proper in any judicial district in which (1) “any
defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is
located;” (2) “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim
occurred;” 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
A defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for improper venue pursuant to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3). A defendant may also move to transfer venue to another federal
district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which is permissive, or § 1406(a), which is
mandatory. Defendant argues venue in the Eastern District of Missouri is improper, and
moves under § 1406 for dismissal or transfer: “[t]he district court of a district in which is
filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the
interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have
been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).
Defendant argues that the Eastern District of Missouri is not the proper venue
because: (1) defendant is not a resident of this forum and (2) none of the events giving
rise to this suit occurred in this forum. (ECF No. 14). This court agrees.
This district is not the proper venue for this judicial action. Defendant is not a
resident of this district and no relevant facts are alleged to have occurred here. Instead,
defendant is a municipality with its principal place of business in Columbia, Missouri.
(ECF No. 15). According to plaintiff’s complaint, all of the facts directly giving rise to
the claim occurred in Columbia, Missouri. (ECF No. 1). Columbia, Missouri is located
in Boone County within the Western District of Missouri. Accordingly, venue is only
proper in the Western District of Missouri.
Plaintiff argues that she will not receive a fair judgment in the Western District
because of her past experiences litigating in that area. (ECF Nos. 17, 19). The court
gives no credence to plaintiff's argument. In any event, the mandatory nature of 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a) renders plaintiff's argument legally insufficient.
The court has determined to transfer the action rather than to dismiss it. If this
court were to dismiss the action, any subsequently-filed suit for relief under the alleged
facts may fall outside of the ninety-day time limit from the date plaintiff received the
EEOC notice for filing suit, and she might lose her right to sue. (ECF No. 1); 29 C.F.R.
1614.407(a); Hallgren v. U.S. Dep’t. Energy, 331 F.3d 588 (8th Cir. 2003).
Transfer is therefore appropriate. Transfer preserves the timeliness of plaintiff’s
civil action as well as promotes the efficient use of the time and resources of the courts
and the parties.
For the reasons stated above,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant’s motion to transfer this action (ECF
No. 14) is sustained.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall transfer this case to
the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Plaintiff’s pending
motion for the appointment of counsel (ECF No. 17) is deferred to that court for
/S/ David D. Noce
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Signed on January 17, 2017.
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