Seifert et al v. Schoeckler et al
Memorandum of Opinion and Order for the reasons set forth here in, Defendant Transamerica Life Insurance Company's 17 Motion to Transfer Venue is granted. Additionally, such a transfer makes moot Defendant Christina R. Schoeckler's 22 Motion to dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. The Telephonic Case Management Conference set before the undersigned on 1/30/2017 is cancelled. Judge Benita Y. Pearson on 1/27/2017. (E,CK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
DOLORES SEIFERT, et al.,
CHRISTINA R. SCHOECKLER, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:16CV2629
JUDGE BENITA Y. PEARSON
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
[Resolving ECF Nos. 17 and 22]
Pending is Defendant Transamerica Life Insurance Company’s (“Transamerica Life”)
Motion to Transfer Venue to the Middle District of Florida Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404 (ECF
No. 17), filed on December 15, 2016. The Court has been advised, having reviewed the record,
the parties’ briefs,1 and the applicable law. For the reasons set forth below, Transamerica Life’s
motion is granted.
Defendant Christina R. Schoeckler (“Schoeckler”) joins in Transamerica Life’s
motion. See Schoeckler’s Response to and Joinder in Transamerica Life’s Motion (ECF
No. 34). Plaintiffs were required to serve and file a memorandum in opposition to
Transamerica Life’s motion on or before January 13, 2017. See Order (ECF No. 29).
Plaintiffs, however, did not file a memorandum.
Plaintiffs did file a timely Amended Complaint (ECF No. 32) on January 9, 2017.
See Non-document Order dated January 9, 2017. The filing, however, does not moot
Transamerica Life’s motion or Schoeckler’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal
Jurisdiction (ECF No. 22) because both motions are still applicable to the Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 32). See 6 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1476 (3d ed. 2010) (stating that “[i]f some of the defects raised
in the original motion remain in the new pleading, the court simply may consider the
motion as being addressed to the amended pleading.”).
Plaintiffs Dolores Seifert and Brian A. Seifert are the mother and brother of Dr. Scott A.
Seifert, who died and was autopsied in Orange County, Florida in 2016. The Orange County
Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding Dr.
Seifert’s death. See Homicide Investigation Report (ECF No. 32-3). Plaintiffs are citizens of
Ohio. On October 27, 2016, Plaintiffs brought this diversity case against Schoeckler, the ex-wife
of decedent, and Transamerica Life, one of decedent’s life insurers, regarding a claim for $1
million in insurance benefits.2 Dr. Seifert was a citizen of Florida. Schoeckler has been a citizen
of Florida since 2007. Transamerica Life is a company organized and existing under the laws of
Iowa with its principal place of business located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Dr. Seifert named
Schoeckler as beneficiary of the Transamerica Life policy (ECF No. 13-1 at PageID #: 138-52),
which was applied for in Orange County, Florida. See Application (ECF No. 13-1) at PageID #:
137. Plaintiffs assert that decedent’s naming his ex-wife as beneficiary in a recent Will (ECF
No. 17-1) (signed in Florida and filed in Orange County, Florida), as well as the circumstances
surrounding the procurement of the insurance policy, is “highly suspicious;” and they believe
Schoeckler “participated in or contributed to” decedent’s death. ECF No. 32 at PageID #: 304,
¶¶ 72 and 74. Plaintiffs seek a determination from the Court that they are entitled to the $1
million Transamerica Life insurance proceeds.
Transamerica Life moves the Court to transfer the case to the Middle District of Florida
for two primary reasons. First, there is a lack of minimum contacts between Schoeckler and the
On December 19, 2016, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and AIG
Insurance were dismissed without prejudice. See Marginal Entry Order (ECF No. 19).
Northern District of Ohio during the relevant time period. Second, the relevant events occurred
in Orange County, Florida.
The Court’s authority to transfer venue is based on two statutes, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1404(a)
and 1406(a). Section 1406(a) allows a district court to grant a change of venue when venue was
improper in the original forum. Specifically, § 1406(a) provides that a district court with a case
“laying venue in the wrong . . . district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer
such case to any district . . . in which it could have been brought.” Section 1406(a) does not
require that this Court have personal jurisdiction over the defendant before transferring the case.
See Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463 (1962) (utilizing § 1406(a) to transfer a case where
there was both improper venue and lack of personal jurisdiction in the transferor forum); Pittock
v. Otis Elevator Co., 8 F.3d 325, 329 (6th Cir. 1993).
Section 1404(a) permits a change of venue for the convenience of parties and witnesses
as well as the interest of justice. It provides:
For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district
court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might
have been brought. . . .3
The following factors enter into a court’s consideration of a motion for change of venue:
(1) the convenience of the parties; (2) the convenience of the witnesses; (3) the
interests of justice; and (4) whether the civil action might have been brought in the
district to which the movant requests a transfer.
Notably, Plaintiffs previously filed a motion to transfer recognizing that this
action could have been properly brought in the Middle District of Florida. See ECF No. 3
at PageID #: 34, ¶ 20; see also, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) (where jurisdiction is based upon
diversity, venue is appropriate in a district in which a substantial part of the events giving
rise to the claim occurred).
Roberts Metals v. Florida Properties Marketing, 138 F.R.D. 89, 91-92 (N.D. Ohio 1991), aff’d
No. 93-1562, 1994 WL 84735 (Fed. Cir. March 14, 1994). Further, two additional factors that
courts consider are plaintiff’s choice of forum and the respective docket loads of the two district
courts. Id. at 92, n. 2. See also Armco, Inc. v. Reliance National Insurance Company, No.
C-1-96-1149, 1997 WL 311474, at *4 (S.D.Ohio May 30, 1997) (“the balance need not be
‘strongly in favor’ of the party seeking the transfer, but rather need only favor the party seeking
the transfer”); Hite v. Norwegian Caribbean Lines, 551 F. Supp. 390, 394 (E.D. Mich. 1982).
The language of the statute also indicates that the Court has broad discretion in ruling on such
motions. Mead Data Central, Inc. v. West Publishing Co., 679 F.Supp. 1455, 1457 (S.D.Ohio
1987) (citing Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 32 (1955)).
Most, if not all, of the relevant events surrounding the Transamerica Life policy (ECF No.
13-1 at PageID #: 138-52), the Will (ECF No. 17-1), and Dr. Seifert’s death, occurred in Orange
County, Florida, which is within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the
Middle District of Florida. In weighing the above relevant factors (particularly the fact that many
of the witnesses, including Schoeckler, reside in Orange County, Florida), the Court holds that
Transamerica Life has met its burden of proving that transfer is appropriate. For the reasons that
have been articulated in the memoranda providing the points and authorities on which
Defendants rely in support of Transamerica Life’s motion, Defendant Transamerica Life
Insurance Company’s Motion to Transfer Venue to the Middle District of Florida Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404 (ECF No. 17) is granted. This case is transferred for all further proceedings to the
United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1404(a) and 1406(a).
Additionally, such a transfer makes moot Schoeckler’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Personal Jurisdiction (ECF No. 22).
The Telephonic Case Management Conference set before the undersigned on January 30,
2017 is cancelled.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
January 27, 2016
/s/ Benita Y. Pearson
Benita Y. Pearson
United States District Judge
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