O.R.R., 160 F. Supp. 626 (E.D. Pa. 1958); and Rhoton v. Interstate R.R., 123 F. Supp. 34 (E.D. Pa. 1954).
In Rogers v. Baltimore & O.R.R., supra, an F.E.L.A. action was transferred from the Western District of Pennsylvania, sitting at Pittsburgh, to the Northern District of West Virginia, sitting at Clarksburg. The operative facts were that plaintiff's decedent resided in Grafton, West Virginia, where the accident occurred, 100 miles from Pittsburgh and 17 miles from Clarksburg. There were no eye-witnesses to the accident, but plaintiff's fellow crew members, who were to testify as to the defendant's operations, resided in Grafton and in Fairmont, West Virginia, which are close to Clarksburg but 100 miles and 92 miles respectively from Pittsburgh. Four doctors who treated plaintiff and would testify resided in Clarksburg, and the parties required the presence of the records and record custodians from two hospitals in Clarksburg, which is 118 miles from Pittsburgh and beyond the subpoena power of the transferor court. The convenience of Clarksburg vis-a-vis Pittsburgh motivated the court's decision.
Similarly, in Hostetler v. Baltimore & O.R.R., supra, an F.E.L.A. action was transferred from the Western District of Pennsylvania to the District of Maryland, which court sits either at Baltimore or Cumberland, in its discretion. Plaintiff resided at Keyser, West Virginia, 136 miles from Pittsburgh, the transferor forum, 26 miles from Cumberland, and 166 miles from Baltimore. The accident occurred at Hagerstown, Maryland, 178 miles from Pittsburgh, 68 miles from Cumberland, and 72 miles from Baltimore. Three witnesses resided in Cumberland, and five witnesses resided in Hagerstown, all eight in the employ of the defendant. Plaintiff was examined by five doctors, four of whom resided in Baltimore, 250 miles from Pittsburgh and 140 miles from Cumberland, and one resided in Keyser. Plaintiff had one medical expert who resided in Pittsburgh. Based upon these facts, the court held that, although a trial in Baltimore might occasion 30 miles more travel for plaintiff than a trial in Pittsburgh, the comparatively small inconvenience to plaintiff and his medical expert was greatly outweighed by the greater convenience of the 13 other witnesses and the saving of needless trial expenses for the defendant.
In Carbeck v. Baltimore & O.R.R., supra, this Court transferred venue to the District of Maryland in an action brought under the F.E.L.A. where the facts established that the plaintiff resided in Pasadena, Maryland, 10 miles from Baltimore, the defendant was subject to process and had its principal office within the District of Maryland, all the witnesses, including five physicians, resided in or near Baltimore, the injury occurred in the regular operations in Maryland, and the case could be more speedily tried there due to a less crowded docket.
Finally, in Rhoton v. Interstate R.R., supra, this Court transferred an F.E.L.A. action to the district court in Virginia, because the plaintiff resided in Virginia, the defendant operated exclusively within Virginia, and all of the defendant's witnesses, hospital records and doctors were located there. Plaintiff's only medical witness, a neurosurgeon, was located in Philadelphia, but the court concluded that this one factor did not outweigh all the other connections with Virginia.
In contesting a change in venue, plaintiff relies principally upon Clendenin v. United Fruit Co., 214 F. Supp. 137 (E.D. Pa. 1963). There, in an excellent opinion by Judge Joseph S. Lord, III, this Court denied defendant's motion to transfer a seaman's personal injury action to the Eastern District of Louisiana. We find, however, that the Clendenin case is distinguishable from the facts of the instant case for the following reasons: (1) the accident occurred at sea rather than in the transferee district; (2) the court in Clendenin recognized that seamen, as fact witnesses, testify more often than not by deposition;
and (3) defendant had no knowledge of whether the alleged eye witnesses saw the accident or what they saw, and thus "the fact that another district is more convenient to witnesses who may testify is not a sufficiently strong factor to overcome plaintiff's venue privilege." Medich v. American Oil Co., 177 F. Supp. 682, 683 (E.D. Pa. 1959). See also Skultety v. Pennsylvania R.R., supra.
We hold that defendant's motion for a change of venue should be granted. In so doing, we rely on the precedent of the Rogers, Hostetler, Carbeck and Rhoton cases, all of which are extremely similar to this case on their facts -- even to the extent of the locale involved -- and base our decision upon the following considerations:
1. In a situation where there are alleged to have occurred three separate accidents and injuries, raising complex questions concerning the interrelationship of the accidents, it is especially important to have the eyewitnesses and medical witnesses testify personally at trial.
2. The witnesses all reside 218 or more miles from this Court but in or near the District of Maryland. The cost of transporting and lodging the three (and perhaps more, by the time discovery is completed) liability witnesses and the five medical witnesses to this forum is substantial. More significant, however, than the cost of transportation is the impact of the event upon the medical witnesses, who are expected to give important testimony as to the nature of the plaintiff's injuries. None appear to be witnesses retained for litigation evaluation; it would be unfair to require them to disrupt their affairs for one or two days to come to Philadelphia to testify. It would also be unfair to the defendant or detrimental to the trial itself to proceed in their absence, a possibility heightened by the lack of assurance that plaintiff will produce them and the fact that they are beyond the subpoena power of this Court.
There is no doubt that each case involving forum non conveniens is, in a sense, sui generis. As the late and learned Judge Abraham Freedman noted in McFarlin v. Alcoa Steamship Co., 210 F. Supp. 793, 794 (E.D. Pa. 1962):
"Interesting similarities to one or more of the facts in the case at hand may be found in the reported decisions. But in the end each case is unique and must be decided on its own circumstances."