Prince v. Oregon Mutual Insurance Company

Filing 12

ORDER granting ECF No. 5 Oregon Mutual's Motion to Transfer. This action is hereby transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, Southern Division. The remaining motions raised in Defendants omnibus motion ECF No. 5 are denied without prejudice to renew. IT IS SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Howard D. McKibben on 03/28/2017. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - KW)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 JOSEPH PRINCE, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) ) ) vs. ) ) OREGON MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, ) an Oregon corporation, ) ) Defendant. ) _________________________________ ) 3:16-cv-00502-HDM-WGC ORDER 18 Before the court is defendant Oregon Mutual Insurance Company’s 19 (“Oregon Mutual”) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, 20 in the alternative to dismiss for improper venue, in the alternative 21 to transfer for improper venue, or in the alternative to transfer for 22 convenience. (ECF No. 5). Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 7) and Oregon 23 Mutual replied (ECF No. 8). 24 I. Background 25 This action arises out of a coverage dispute between plaintiff, 26 an Idaho resident, against Oregon Mutual, an Oregon corporation whose 27 principal place of business is Oregon, regarding plaintiff’s claim for 28 underinsured motorist coverage. On June 30, 2011, plaintiff was 1 1 involved in a car accident with Courtney Spring on State Route 225 2 near the Wild Horse Recreation Area, Elko, County, Nevada. 3 was the permissive driver of the truck owned by Doug Smith. 4 Smith 5 Insurance Group, issued in Idaho, which had underinsured motorist 6 limits 7 insurance 8 plaintiff as an insured and had underinsured motorist limits of 9 $100,000. Plaintiff’s medical expenses resulting from the accident had of a personal $100,000. policy with automobile Plaintiff Oregon insurance also Mutual, had a issued policy with personal in Plaintiff Doug Farmers automobile Idaho, covering 10 exceed $99,728.32 and his loss of earnings exceed $96,492.64. 11 November 15, 2011, plaintiff filed suit against Courtney Spring. On 12 June 13, 2013, plaintiff received the liability limits of $100,000 13 from Courtney Spring. 14 limits or offset underinsured motorist coverage required the first 15 $100,000 of the $200,000 underinsured motorist coverage available to 16 Plaintiff to be offset against the $100,000 liability limits paid by 17 Courtney Spring through his personal automobile liability insurance 18 policy, thereby providing $100,000 in underinsured motorist benefits 19 available to Plaintiff as compensation for his serious and permanent 20 injuries.” On Plaintiff alleges that “[t]he difference in (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 17). 21 On August 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint requesting 22 declaratory relief regarding whether the automobile insurance policy 23 provided by Oregon Mutual provides $100,000 underinsured motorist 24 coverage to plaintiff for the injuries plaintiff sustained as a result 25 of a June 30, 2011 accident. 26 there is diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and that 27 venue 28 § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial part of the events or omissions is appropriate in (ECF No. 1). this district 2 The complaint states that pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1 giving rise to the claim occurred in this district. 2 II. 3 Motion to Transfer Venue The court first addresses the Oregon Mutual’s motion to transfer 4 venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). 5 “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of 6 justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other 7 district or division where it might have been brought.” 8 § 1404(a). 9 adequate alternative forum exists. 10 Section 1404 establishes that 28 U.S.C. The moving party bears the burden of showing that an Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 499 n. 22 (9th Cir. 2000). 11 Motions to transfer under § 1404(a) are adjudicated through an 12 “individualized, 13 fairness.” 14 U.S. 22, 29 (1988)). 15 in a particular case, the court is required to weigh multiple factors. 16 For example, the court may consider: (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 nonparty witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof. 17 18 19 20 21 case-by-case consideration of convenience and Id. at 498(quoting Stewart Org. Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 22 Id. at 498–99. 23 A. In determining whether transfer is appropriate 24 Action Could Have Been Brought in the District of Idaho Here, the action could have been brought in the United States 25 District Court for the District of Idaho, Southern Division. 26 venue is proper because substantial conduct giving rise to the claim 27 occurred in Idaho–the insurance contract was executed in Idaho and the 28 alleged denial of coverage occurred 3 in Idaho. See 28 First, U.S.C. 1 § 1391(b)(2). 2 personal 3 sufficient minimum contacts with Idaho. 4 writing insurance policies in Idaho and executed the contract at issue 5 in Idaho. 6 district 7 plaintiff’s claims. 8 B. 9 Second, the federal district court in Idaho has jurisdiction over the defendant as Oregon Mutual has Oregon Mutual does business Finally, the parties do not dispute that the federal court in Idaho would have diversity jurisdiction over Convenience of the Parties and Interests of Justice 1. Where relevant agreements were negotiated and executed 10 The only agreement at issue is the insurance contract entered 11 into between Oregon Mutual and Ronetta Smith. (ECF No. 5, Exhibit A). 12 The record reflects that this agreement was negotiated and executed 13 in Idaho. This factor therefore favors transfer. 14 2. 15 The parties agree that Idaho law applies to the interpretation State most familiar with the governing law 16 of the insurance contract. 17 with the application of Idaho law, this factor favors transfer. 18 Decker Coal, 805 F.2d at 843 (holding courts may consider “the 19 interest in having the trial of a diversity case in a forum that is 20 at home with the law that must govern the action”). As an Idaho court would be more familiar 21 3. 22 Plaintiff filed this action in Nevada. 23 See Plaintiff’s choice of forum Therefore this factor weighs against transfer. 24 4. 25 Plaintiff is an Idaho resident, but was temporarily employed in Parties’ Contacts with Nevada 26 Nevada at the time of the accident. 27 corporation whose principal place of business is Oregon. 28 Mutual’s present business activity in Nevada is limited solely to 4 Oregon Mutual is an Oregon Oregon 1 winding up any outstanding claims that occurred prior to the surrender 2 of its Certificate of Authority to do insurance business in Nevada. 3 Plaintiff resides in Idaho and Oregon Mutual negotiated and entered 4 into the insurance contract, the subject of this action, in Idaho. 5 Therefore the court concludes that the parties contacts’ with Nevada 6 are not as substantial as those with Idaho. 7 5. 8 Plaintiff’s 9 Parties’ Contacts Relating to Prince’s Claims contacts with Nevada are limited. His only connection to Nevada is that the accident triggering his request for 10 underinsured motorist covered occurred in Nevada. 11 allegation that the wrongdoing that is the basis of the complaint 12 occurred in Nevada other than the fact that Oregon Mutual sent its 13 denial of underinsured motorist benefits to Nevada. 14 parties’ contacts with Nevada relating to plaintiff’s claims are not 15 substantial and the actions that plaintiff complains of did not take 16 place here, this factor also favors transfer. There is no Because the 17 6. 18 Plaintiff is an Idaho resident and the contract was entered into Cost of Litigation 19 in Idaho. 20 in Oregon. Therefore it is more likely cost-effective for this action 21 to transfer to Idaho. Oregon Mutual is an Oregon corporation and does business 22 7. 23 No non-party witnesses have been identified as residing in Availability of Compulsory Process to Compel Witnesses 24 Nevada. 25 depose any witnesses or to utilize compulsory process. 26 7). Plaintiff represents that he does not anticipate the need to (ECF No. 7 at Accordingly, this factor is neutral. 27 8. 28 Plaintiff states that he has “most if not all the documentation Access to Sources of Proof 5 1 necessary to present this matter to the Court.” 2 This factor is therefore neutral. (ECF No. 7 at 7). 3 9. 4 Idaho clearly has personal jurisdiction over Oregon Mutual. 5 However, there is a substantial question whether this court has 6 personal jurisdiction over Oregon Mutual. Because the court concludes 7 that convenience and fairness weigh heavily in favor of a transfer it 8 is unnecessary for the court to decide whether it has personal 9 jurisdiction over Oregon Mutual.1 10 11 Additional Factor- Issue of Personal Jurisdiction III. Conclusion In accordance with the foregoing, Oregon Mutual’s motion to 12 transfer is granted. 13 States District Court for the District of Idaho, Southern Division. 14 The remaining motions raised in defendant’s omnibus motion (ECF No. 15 5) are denied without prejudice to renew. This action is hereby transferred to the United 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 DATED: This 28th day of March, 2017. 18 19 ____________________________ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 The court can transfer under § 1404(a) regardless of whether it has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. See Sinochem Int’l Co. v. Malaysia Int’l Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 425 (2007); Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 466-67 (1962); Stanbury Elec. Eng’g, LLC v. Energy Prod., Inc., 2016 WL 3255003, at *1 (W.D. Wash. June 13, 2016); Kawamoto v. CB Richard Ellis, Inc., 225 F. Supp. 2d 1209, 1211 (D. Haw. 2002) (“[T]his court may transfer venue under . . .§ 1404(a) . . . without regard to whether it has personal jurisdiction over” the defendant.). 6

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