the place where judicial authority can be exercised. Venue is traditionally the subject of a venue statute; we do not perceive it to have been the purpose of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to affect venue when it passed the Nonresident Property Owners Act.
A person can have only one residence for venue purposes, and by a long line of authority, the residence of individuals for venue purposes has been construed to mean domicile, citizenship or where a person makes his permanent home. See, Smith v. Murchison, 310 F. Supp. 1079 (S.D.N.Y. 1970); Johnson v. Zarefoss, 198 F. Supp. 548 (E.D. Pa. 1961); Champion Spark Plug Co. v. Karchmar, 180 F. Supp. 727 (S.D.N.Y. 1960); 7B Moore's Federal Practice § 0.142 [5.-2] and cases cited therein. Cf. Pacific Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Thomkins, 101 F. 539 (4th Cir.), cert. den. 179 U.S. 683, 21 S. Ct. 916, 45 L. Ed. 385 (1900). More specifically, it has been fairly established that under the venue statute, an individual can be a resident of one district only. See, Pacific Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Thomkins, supra ; 7B Moore's Federal Practice § 0.142 [5.-2]. In this case there is no dispute about the fact that the Oshiraks left Pennsylvania in 1969 and have been bona fide residents of Kansas since that time.
The first two bases of our holding are consistent with the view to which we subscribe, that to hold that long arm service statutes create constructive residency within the state for venue purposes is an untenable fiction. As a postscript, it is appropriate to point out that this conclusion does not leave an action venueless. To the contrary, under the applicable venue statutes, supra, such conclusion relegates the trial of the action to the district in which it arose.
It is the purpose of a venue statute to provide a convenient forum for trial. Yet, if we construe the long arm statute to confer constructive residence upon a nonresident individual for venue purposes, we may thereby force a case to be tried in an inconvenient forum, contrary to the purpose of venue statutes. The present case is a classical example of this. This action arose in Turbotville, in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and the bulk of the witnesses to the circumstances surrounding the fire are there.
Turbotville is but 20 miles from Williamsport, where the Middle District sits, but some 170 miles from where we sit in Philadelphia. From the point of view of such matters as the availability and convenience of witnesses and the facility of a jury view (if necessary), the Eastern District is clearly an inconvenient forum. If we hold that the Oshiraks are general residents of Pennsylvania for venue purposes, then this action will probably have to be tried in this district, which is an inconvenient forum; if we hold to the contrary, it will be tried in the Middle District, which is a convenient forum.
Obviously, the district where the cause of action arose is by no means always the most convenient forum. Neither does it follow that the holding sought in this case would always result in an action being tried in a locale which, on the facts of the given case, is less appropriate than another. The point of the foregoing analysis, however, and the third basis of our holding, is that the injection into the venue determination process of the notion of a constructive residency can (and we believe more often than not will) upset that process without having any reasonable or justifiable relationship to it. This type of construction should be avoided.
In view of our conclusion that the Oshiraks must be considered Kansas residents for purposes of this case, then the Eastern District is not a judicial district in which all of the defendants reside (§ 1391(a)); moreover, all defendants do not reside in different districts within the state (§ 1392(a)). Therefore venue cannot properly be laid in the Eastern District and exists only in the Middle District where the cause of action arose.
In setting forth our holding and the bases therefor, our essential holding has not been couched in terms of the familiar notions of convenience which are applied in cases arising under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). When we are confronted with motions for transfer under § 1404(a), we are bound by the principle that strong weight is accorded to the plaintiff's choice of forum, and that choice is to prevail unless there is established such hardship on the defendant as would amount to vexatiousness or oppression if the court refused to relinquish its jurisdiction. Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 67 S. Ct. 839, 91 L. Ed. 1055 (1947); Williams v. Green Bay & W.R.R., 326 U.S. 549, 66 S. Ct. 284, 90 L. Ed. 311 (1946); Detrick v. Baltimore and Ohio R.R. Co., 330 F. Supp. 257 (E.D. Pa. 1971). The reason that we have not spoken in § 1404(a) terms is that they are inapplicable here. In 1404(a) cases venue is properly laid in either district but one must be chosen over the other in accordance with the Gilbert criteria. In this case, however, we are dealing with a defect in venue. Having found that venue is defective in the Eastern District, we could dismiss, but instead we elect to transfer to the Middle District where venue properly lies.
We are not unmindful of the fact that this action was filed approximately two years ago, and was approaching trial posture when the Oshiraks were finally served. However, under the rules, they have the clear right to interpose the motion, which they did shortly after service was made upon them. Their venue objection, since it is a personal privilege, could not have been asserted by the other defendants. See Vance Trucking Co. v. Canal Insurance Co., supra. In view of our discussion, we have no alternative but to dismiss or transfer.