KASTANIDIS v. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPT. OF HUMAN SERVICES
MEMORANDUM OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR ON 6/24/2016. 6/24/2016 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(lbs, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services’ Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, to Transfer Venue, ECF No. 5 – Granted
Joseph F. Leeson, Jr.
United States District Judge
June 24, 2016
Plaintiff Christina Kastanidis contends that Defendant Department of Human Services of
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania discriminated against her on the basis of her sex during her
time as an employee of the Department’s Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services, in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See Compl. ¶¶ 32-34, ECF No. 1. She filed this action
The Department of Human Services contends that venue in this district is not proper, or,
even if it is, that this action should be transferred to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Under
Title VII’s exclusive venue provision, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3), venue in this district is not
improper. However, for the reasons set forth hereinafter in Section III of this Opinion, venue in
the Middle District of Pennsylvania is more convenient and serves the interests of justice, and so
the Department’s motion to transfer venue is granted.
Venue in this district is proper.
The Department of Human Services contends that venue in this district is not proper.
Title VII contains an exclusive venue provision, which provides:
[A]n action may be brought in any judicial district in the State in which the
unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, in the judicial
district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained
and administered, or in the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would
have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice . . . .
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). There is no genuine dispute that the Middle District of Pennsylvania
is where the allegedly unlawful discrimination was committed, where the relevant employment
records are located, and where Kastanidis would still be working but for the alleged
discrimination. To the Department, that means that venue is proper in only that district. That
argument, however, rests on “a misinterpretation of Title VII’s venue provision.” See Moy v.
Rose View Ctr., No. 05-6300, 2006 WL 3511687, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 5, 2006). The statute
provides that venue is proper “in any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful
employment practice is alleged to have been committed,” which means that venue for this action
is proper in “any judicial district” in Pennsylvania, including this one. See id. (collecting cases).
Transfer to the Middle District of Pennsylvania is appropriate.
The Department contends that even if venue is proper here, this action should nonetheless
be transferred to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). A variety of
considerations may be relevant to the decision of whether to transfer an action, including the
parties’ preferences, where the claim arose, the convenience of the parties, the convenience of
the witnesses and the location of the records (to the extent that either may be unavailable for trial
in one of the fora under consideration), the enforceability of the judgment, practical
considerations that could affect the ease of trial, the amount of congestion in the judicial
calendars, and the local interest in resolving local controversies in the home forum. See Jumara
v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879-80 (3d Cir. 1995). Ultimately, the question is “whether
on balance the litigation would more conveniently proceed and the interests of justice be better
served by transfer to a different forum.” See id. at 879 (quoting 15 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur
R. Miller, & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3847 (2d ed. 1986)). It must
be remembered, however, that “the plaintiff’s choice of venue should not be lightly disturbed.”
Id. (quoting 1A James Wm. Moore et al., Moore’s Federal Practice ¶ 0.345, at 4350 (2d ed.
Nearly every aspect of this action relates to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. That is
where Kastanidis worked when the alleged acts of discrimination and harassment took place,
where nearly all of the employees of the Department’s Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services—
Kastanidis’s former coworkers and likely witnesses 1—are located, 2 where other likely witnesses
who no longer work for the Department live and work, 3 and where records related to her
employment are maintained. 4 Kastanidis contends that witnesses who will testify on her behalf,
such as “witnesses who may be able to testify concerning her emotional distress” that she
allegedly suffered from these events, are “likely located” in this district, 5 but she does not
provide any further information about who those witnesses are. To the extent Kastanidis is
referring to expert witnesses who may offer opinions about her health, “expert witnesses or
witnesses who are retained by a party to testify carry little weight because they ‘are usually
A review of her Complaint reveals that a number of her former coworkers may be witnesses. Kastanidis
alleges that “she heard numerous individuals throughout her workplace, including the Bureau Director, mak[ing]
frequent sexual anti-female remarks and telling jokes of a sexual and sexist nature,” Compl. ¶ 10, that during a
business trip, the Bureau Director introduced her to another person “who made a crude statement in a very loud
voice implying the Bureau Director hired [her] for his own sexual purposes and then proceeded to make a negative
comment about the Bureau Director’s genitalia,” which was likely overheard by other Commonwealth employees,
id. ¶ 20, and that on that same trip, at the Bureau Director’s request she and a female colleague brought food to his
hotel room, where they found a number of other senior managers of the Bureau, at which time the Bureau Director
said that he had heard that Kastanidis had “the most perfect breasts” and another person present “said something
about it being time to begin taking off clothes,” id. ¶ 22.
See Lamonto Decl. ¶¶ 6-7, 9, 13-19, ECF No. 5-2.
See Lamonto Decl. ¶¶ 13-14, 19.
Lamonto Decl. ¶ 10.
Pl.’s Mem. Opp’n 6, ECF No. 7.
selected because of their reputation and special knowledge without regard to their residences and
are presumably well compensated for their attendance, labor and inconvenience, if any.’”
Coppola v. Ferrellgas, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 195, 199 (E.D. Pa. 2008) (quoting Webster-Chicago
Corp. v. Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co., 99 F. Supp. 503, 505 (D. Del. 1951)); see In re
Ralston Purina Co., 726 F.2d 1002, 1006 n.6 (4th Cir. 1984) (“The convenience of plaintiffs’
paid expert witnesses is of little moment.”).
Weighing the heaviest in this forum’s favor is the fact that Kastanidis chose to bring her
suit here, and she lives within its boundaries. But while a plaintiff’s choice of forum is given due
consideration, that choice “is deserving of less weight where none of the operative facts of the
action occurred in the selected forum.” Gen. Fiber Commc’ns, Inc. v. Barnes Wentworth, Inc.,
No. 03-cv-3291, 2004 WL 1636980, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 28, 2004) (quoting Musser v. Consol.
Rail Corp., No. 96-3388, 1996 WL 417352, at *2 (E.D. Pa. July 19, 1996)); accord McLaughlin
v. GlaxoSmithKline, L.L.C., No. 12-3272, 2012 WL 4932016, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 17, 2012)
(quoting Fid. Leasing, Inc. v. Metavec Corp., No. 98-6035, 1999 WL 269933, at *2 (Apr. 29,
1999)). While Kastanidis does live within this district, the Middle District of Pennsylvania may
in fact be more convenient for her, because she lives closer to the Middle District’s Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania courthouse than to any courthouse of this district. 6
Title VII’s exclusive venue provision also suggests that the Middle District of
Pennsylvania is the more appropriate forum. When it chose to delineate the proper fora for Title
VII actions, Congress focused on the locus of the alleged discrimination: where “the unlawful
employment practice is alleged to have been committed,” where “the employment records
relevant to such practice are maintained and administered,” and where “the aggrieved person
would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice.” See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-
Compl. ¶ 1.
5(f)(3). As a result, “the intent of Congress to limit venue to the judicial district concerned with
the alleged discrimination seems clear.” Stebbins v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 413 F.2d
1100, 1102 (D.C. Cir. 1969). While venue in this district is proper under the statute, the fact that
the Middle District of Pennsylvania is the answer to each of those three questions suggests that
venue is more appropriate in that forum. See In re Horseshoe Entm’t, 337 F.3d 429, 435 (5th Cir.
2003) (finding that a district court that declined to transfer a Title VII action abused its discretion
in part because the district court disregarded the factors “expressly stated in the special venue
statute” in favor of other considerations); see also E.E.O.C. v. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 850 F.2d
969, 976 (3d Cir. 1988) (observing, in the context of two competing actions filed in different
districts, that in light of the statutory venue provision, “Title VII arguably contemplates [one of
those districts] as the more appropriate forum”).
Accordingly, this 24th day of June, 2016, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services’ Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, to Transfer Venue, ECF No. 5, is GRANTED. This action is transferred to the
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for all further proceedings.
The Clerk of Court shall mark this action as closed for statistical purposes. 7
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Joseph F. Leeson, Jr._________
JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR.
United States District Judge
Unless modified by a judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
following the transfer of this action, the parties shall continue to adhere to the deadlines set forth in the scheduling
order governing this action. See Order, Jun. 24, 2016, ECF No. 10.
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