The other statutory factors also weigh heavily towards
transfer. The first such issue is the convenience of the parties.
Both defendants are located in Deerfield, Illinois, a Chicago
suburb that is in the Northern District of Illinois. See Answer ¶
8. Although Baxter does have a registered agent in Philadelphia,
see id. ¶ 9, virtually all of the files regarding the employment
and benefits decisions pertaining to plaintiff are kept in
Illinois. See Def. Ex. 2 ¶ 3 (Aff. of Tracy Mohr, Baxter Human
Resources Manager, stating that employment files are in
Deerfield); Def. Ex. 3 ¶ 3 (Aff. of Dawn Weber, corporate counsel,
stating that files of Administrative Committee are located in
Deerfield). As plaintiff argues, the defendant would likely have
to produce many of these documents in discovery regardless of the
forum. However, the location of the files indicates that the
locus of events was in Illinois, and access to proof would be
facilitated were the action to proceed there.
While the court must weigh against these factors the
plaintiff's forum preference, plaintiff concedes that she does not
live in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. See Pl. Mem. of Law
at 3-4. She lives close to Pittsburgh in Wexford, Pennsylvania,
which is located in the Western District of Pennsylvania. See
Compl. ¶ 7. While Chicago is farther from Pittsburgh than is
Philadelphia, it is still a 300 mile trip to Philadelphia. This
minimizes the significance of plaintiff's choice of forum,
particularly as most of the relevant events occurred in Illinois,
as described subsequently. See Britamco Underwriters, Inc. v.
Wallace, 56 F. Supp.2d 542, 545 (E.D.Pa. 1999); American Littoral
Soc., 943 F. Supp. at 551; Kielczynski v. Consolidated Rail Corp.,
837 F. Supp. 687, 689 (E.D.Pa. 1993).
In the end, only the fact that plaintiff's attorney is
located in Philadelphia suggests that a transfer might be
inconvenient to the plaintiff. However, the convenience of
counsel is not a factor that is relevant in deciding a motion
brought under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). See Solomon v. Continental
Amer. Life Ins. Co., 472 F.2d 1043, 1047 (3d Cir. 1973); Jordan v.
Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co., 590 F. Supp. 997, 998 (E.D. PA. 1984).
The convenience of the witnesses also leans toward
transferring venue to the Northern District of Illinois. This
factor is particularly significant. See Kahhan v. City of Fort
Lauderdale, 566 F. Supp. 736, 739 (E.D.Pa. 1983). Through
affidavits, defendants have identified the witnesses they believe
to be most important, and only one of them is located in the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania. See Def. Ex. 2 (Aff. of Tracey
Mohr, who maintains personnel files for many employees, including
Matt); Def. Ex. 3 (Aff. of Dawn Weber, corporate counsel).
Several others either live in Illinois or travel there frequently
for business. The first such witness is Karen Wishart, the human
resources director for the area in which Matt worked. She lives
in St. Louis, Missouri and occasionally travels to Chicago on
business. See Def. Ex. 2 ¶ 11. Ms. Wishart is expected to
testify as to Baxter's employment policies, the decision to fire
Matt, compensation issues, Matt's recording of conversations with
Ms. Wishart,*fn1 and Matt's sexual harassment complaint. See
Def. Mem. of Law at 8. Another such witness is Matthew Likens,
the president of the division in which Matt worked. He currently
works for Baxter in McGaw Park, Illinois. See id. ¶ 9.
Defendants expect that he will also testify as to Matt's
compensation. See Def. Mem. of Law at 8. Two other individuals,
Weber and Lynda Walker, who might testify about the disability
benefits sought by Matt, are also located in Deerfield. See Def.
Ex. 3 ¶¶ 1, 11. Defendants list six other individuals who might
also be called to testify: three of these
people live in
Deerfield, one lives in Georgia but travels to Chicago on
business, one lives in Virginia but travels to Chicago on
business, and one lives in Wisconsin. None of these individuals
have any connections with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania or
any occasion to travel here on business. See Def. Ex. 3 ¶ 11;
Def. Ex. 2 ¶¶ 6, 7. Plaintiff's suggestion that those witnesses
who do not live in either forum could travel to Philadelphia as
easily as to Chicago ignores defendants' unrefuted statement that
several such witnesses already travel to Chicago for business.
The only witnesses identified as being present in the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania are physicians who treated Matt
for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and who provided information on the
treatment to defendants during her efforts to obtain benefits.
See Pl. Mem. of Law at 4-5; Pl. Ex. B ¶ 7. Plaintiff does not
contest defendants' claim that such physicians would likely be
damages witnesses. The convenience of such witnesses is accorded
less weight than is that of liability witnesses. See, e.g.,
Kahhan, 566 F. Supp. at 739-40. Even if these witnesses would
testify as to liability, plaintiff has not provided any means by
which to assess the relative importance of their testimony, and it
is clear that the great majority of witnesses reside outside of
The factors intended to assess the interests of justice
also support transfer. Most of the events pertaining to
plaintiff's own claim arose in the Northern District of Illinois.
Plaintiff argues that the operative facts occurred in Pennsylvania
because Matt worked in this area, because she made her sexual
harassment complaints by telephone from Pennsylvania, and because
she received mail and faxes regarding decisions in this
jurisdiction. See Pl. Ex. B ¶¶ 4-6. However, this lawsuit is
based on decisions that were made in Illinois by defendants who
reside in Illinois. Only the wire-tapping counterclaim truly
implicates events that occurred in Pennsylvania.*fn2 A locale
that is not the home of the plaintiff and where few of the
operative facts occurred is entitled to less weight. See Britamco
Underwriters, Inc., 56 F. Supp.2d at 545. The court also gives
some weight to defendants' claim that it would be beneficial to
have the disability plan interpreted in the Northern District of
Illinois given the large number of Baxter employees in that region
who are directly affected by the plan and who may have some
interest in consistent application of its provisions.
The only issue that might counsel denying the motion for
transfer is that four or five*fn3 of the claims assert
Pennsylvania state law claims. However, three other claims are
federal causes of action, and a choice of law reason question
alone is not a sufficient reason to leave the case in the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania given all of the other factors pushing
toward the Northern District of Illinois.
Although the court acknowledges that plaintiff would
prefer that her claim proceed in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania, this preference is not enough to justify denying
defendants' motion. Plaintiff herself does not reside in this
district, and virtually all of the relevant witnesses and
documents are located outside of this district. As venue would be
proper in the Northern District of Illinois, the interests of
justice, the convenience of the parties, and the convenience of
the witnesses militate towards transferring it there.
An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 15th day of November, upon consideration
of Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue, and the response thereto,
it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED. The Clerk shall
transfer the record in this case to the Northern District of