Sweet, Jr. v. Indianapolis Jet Center, Inc.(UC) et al
ORDER GRANTING 8 Motion to Transfer Case to the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Signed by Judge Xavier Rodriguez. (rf)
In the United States District Court
Western District of Texas
JOHN W. SWEET, JR.,
INDIANAPOLIS JET CENTER,
INC., ET AL.,
Case No. SA-10-CV-1039-XR
On this day came on to be considered Defendants’ motion to dismiss for
lack of jurisdiction, or in the alternative motion to transfer case (docket no. 8)
and Defendants’ motion to transfer venue (docket no. 26). The Court previously
denied the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. See docket no. 20.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motions to transfer
venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1404(a).1
In applying section 1404(a), a district court is to determine first, “whether
the judicial district to which transfer is sought would have been a district in
which the claim could have been filed.” In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d 201, 203
"For the convenience of the 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
(5th Cir. 2004).
Transfer of venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) is at the discretion of
the court, considering: “‘[a]ll relevant factors to determine whether or not on
balance the litigation would more conveniently proceed and the interests of
justice be better served by transfer to a different forum.’” Peteet v. Dow Chem.
Co., 868 F.2d 1428, 1436 (5th Cir. 1989). The moving party bears the burden of
demonstrating that a change of venue is warranted. Time, Inc. v. Manning, 366
F.2d 690, 698 (5th Cir. 1966).
The court first addresses the issue of whether the Southern District of
Indiana qualifies as a judicial district where the civil action “might have been
brought.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); In re Horseshoe Entm't, 337 F.3d 429, 433 (5th
Cir. 2003). As this action is founded solely on diversity of citizenship, it may be
brought in: (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants
reside in the same State, (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 the
property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a judicial district in
which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is
commenced, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.
28 U.S.C. § 1391(a).
Virtually every remaining Defendant in this case resides in Indiana. Some
may be located outside the United States, but no Defendant resides in Texas.
Thus, the Southern District of Indiana is a judicial district where the civil action
“might have been brought.” Alternatively, this action could have originally been
brought in the Southern District of Indiana because a substantial part of the
events giving rise to Plaintiff’s causes of action occurred there, including without
limitation, the signing of the employment agreement at issue.
Once an initial determination is made that the judicial district to which
transfer is sought would have been a district in which the claim could have been
filed, a district court turn[s] to the language of § 1404(a), which speaks to the
issue of “the convenience of parties and witnesses” and the issue of “in the
interest of justice.” The determination of “convenience” turns on a number of
private and public interest factors, none of which is given dispositive weight.
The private concerns include: (1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof;
(2) the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses;
(3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all other practical
problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive. The public
concerns include: (1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court
congestion; (2) the local interest in having localized interests decided at home;
(3) the familiarity of the forum with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the
avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws of the application of foreign
law. In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d at 203 (citations omitted).
The court will first analyze the private and public interest factors and will
then address whether these factors warrant disturbing Plaintiff's choice of
A. Consideration of Private and Public Interest Factors
1. Relative Ease of Access to Sources of Proof
Defendants have set forth a sufficient factual basis why the access to
sources of proof favors a transfer to the Southern District of Indiana. Based on
the record before the court, the bulk of the relevant records are concentrated in
Indianapolis. There is no indication that relevant sources of proof, including
books and records, are kept in the Western District of Texas. This factor weighs
in favor of transfer.
2. Convenience of the Witnesses, Cost of Attendance of
Willing Witnesses and Ability of Compulsory Process to Secure the
Attendance of Witnesses
The availability and convenience of witnesses is arguably the most
important of the factors in the § 1404 analysis.
See, e.g., LeBouef v. Gulf
Operators, Inc., 20 F.Supp.2d 1057, 1060 (S.D. Tex .1998) (citing 15 Charles A.
Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice And Procedure
§ 3851, at 415 (1986)).
Defendants have provided evidence that the vast
majority of witnesses who will testify at trial reside in the Southern District of
Indiana, not Texas.
The witnesses are within the subpoena power of the
Southern District of Indiana, but are not within the subpoena power of the
Western District of Texas.
Accordingly, considerations of availability,
convenience, and costs to witnesses favor transfer.
3. Problems that Make the Trial of the Case Easy,
Expeditious, and Inexpensive
As indicated above, the vast majority of witnesses reside in Indiana. This
factor weighs in favor of a transfer.
Neither party address this issue directly.
Accordingly, this factor is
5. Local Interest in Having Local Interests Decided at Home
Ordinarily, there is a preference to try an action where the alleged wrong
or injury occurred. Plaintiff argues that the alleged wrong occurred in the
Western District of Texas.
Defendants, on the other hand, argue that the
alleged wrongs occurred in the Southern District of Indiana. The State of Texas
has an interest in protecting its citizens from the “tortious conduct of
nonresidents aimed at its own residents.” In this case, however, Defendants
argue that Plaintiff’s employment agreement was negotiated and signed in
Indiana and Plaintiff managed an avionics department located in Indiana. The
court determines that this factor is neutral.
6. Familiarity of the Forum with the Law that Will Govern
the Case; Avoidance of Unnecessary Problems of Conflict of Laws of the
Application of Foreign Law
Defendants argue that Indiana law should apply to this case. Plaintiff
appears to argue that Texas law would apply. Regardless of which party is
correct, no suggestion has been made that the Southern District of Indiana
would have difficulty resolving Texas state law claims (should it be determined
that Texas law does apply). Accordingly, this factor neither weighs in favor of
nor against transfer.
B. Determination of Whether the Balance of the Factors Warrants
Disturbing Plaintiff's Choice of Forum
A plaintiff's choice of forum is entitled to some deference and generally
should not be disturbed unless the balance of factors strongly favors the moving
party, see Houston Trial Reports, Inc., v. LRP Publ'ns, Inc., 85 F.Supp.2d 663,
667 (S.D.Tex.1999); however, a court may not attribute “decisive weight” to a
plaintiff's choice of forum. A “[p]laintiff's choice of forum is clearly a factor to be
considered but in and of itself is neither conclusive nor determinative.” In re
Horseshoe Entm't, 337 F.3d at 434.
In light of the fact that ease of access to sources of proof, and more
importantly the availability, convenience, and cost of attendance of willing
witnesses weigh strongly in favor of transfer to the Southern District of Indiana,
and all remaining factors are neutral or inapplicable, the court determines that
disturbing Plaintiff's choice of forum is warranted in this case. The Court
recognizes that this ruling will require Plaintiff to bear some additional
expenses, but in light of the fact that many witnesses are beyond subpoena
power in the Western District of Texas, Plaintiff is already burdened by travel
expenses in this case.
For the reasons stated herein, the court determines that Defendants have
met their burden by making a showing sufficient to justify a transfer of this
action “for the convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice”
to the Southern District of Indiana. The Clerk of Court shall effect the transfer
of this action in accordance with the usual procedure.
It is so ORDERED.
SIGNED this 22nd day of June, 2011.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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