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SANDONAS v. WEIRTON STEEL CORP.

December 9, 1986

GEORGE SANDONAS and ANGELA SANDONAS, his wife, Plaintiffs,
v.
WEIRTON STEEL CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, NATIONAL INTERGROUP, INC., formerly NATIONAL STEEL CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, and PHILLIP D. HENRY, M.D., an individual, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

 This is a diversity suit arising out of an accident suffered by plaintiff, George Sandonas. The matter is presently before us on motions by defendants, Weirton Steel Corporation ("Weirton"), National Steel Corporation ("National"), and Phillip D. Henry, M.D., to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

 Plaintiffs, George and Angela Sandonas, are residents of Steubenville, Ohio. Weirton is a Delaware corporation with offices in Weirton, West Virginia. National is a Delaware corporation with offices in Pittsburgh. Dr. Henry is currently a resident of the state of Connecticut.

 The complaint alleges that plaintiff George Sandonas was injured in an accident at a plant formerly owned by National and presently owned by Weirton. The plant was located in Weirton, West Virginia. Plaintiffs allege that defendants are liable for damages arising from Mr. Sandonas' injury and for allegedly negligent medical treatment rendered by Dr. Henry, who was then employed at the Weirton plant's infirmary.

 Weirton and National have denied liability. Dr. Henry argues that this court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over him, as the cause of action arose in West Virginia and Dr. Henry has never lived, practiced medicine, or registered to practice medicine in Pennsylvania. Dr. Henry also argues that, as a co-employee, he is immune from tort liability under West Virginia law.

 All three defendants have moved to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer this action to the Northern District of West Virginia. Plaintiffs oppose transfer, but concede that this court does not have personal jurisdiction over Dr. Henry.

 MOTION TO DISMISS

 Defendants assert that venue is improper in this court. We must disagree. A corporation may be sued in "any judicial district in which it is incorporated or licensed to do business or is doing business." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). Since defendant National has offices in this district and defendant Weirton is doing business in this district, this court cannot dismiss for improper venue.

 MOTION TO TRANSFER

 Defendants argue that a transfer to the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia is appropriate under § 1404(a), which 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.

 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). All the parties concede that this action might have been brought in the Northern District of West Virginia. The remaining issue is whether this case should be transferred "for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice."

 The first consideration in this analysis is the plaintiffs' choice of forum. There is a strong presumption in favor of the plaintiffs' choice of forum. Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 91 L. Ed. 1055, 67 S. Ct. 839 (1947); Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22 (3d Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 910, 27 L. Ed. 2d 808, 91 S. Ct. 871 (1971). However, if plaintiffs are not residents of the district where suit was brought, their choice of forum receives less deference. Jordan v. Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co., 590 F. Supp. 997, 998 (E.D.Pa. 1984).

 In this case, Mr. and Mrs. Sandonas are not residents of this district. The presumption in favor of their choice of forum is therefore not as strong as it would be if they did reside here. Defendants allege that plaintiffs chose this forum for the convenience of their counsel, who are located in Pittsburgh. Convenience of counsel is not a relevant ...


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