The opinion of the court was delivered by: Katz, Senior District Judge.
Defendant has moved for a transfer of venue pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Because the convenience of the parties and
the witnesses and the interests of justice warrant such a
transfer, the court will grant the motion and transfer this case
to the Northern District of Illinois.
According to her complaint, plaintiff Sherry Matt was an
employee of defendant Baxter Healthcare Corporation from November
1992 until she was terminated in September 1997. She now alleges
retaliation under Title VII and the Pennsylvania Human Relations
Act, breach of contract, bad faith denial of insurance benefits,
violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act,
violation of the Equal Pay Act, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. The defendants now move for a transfer of
venue to the Northern District of Illinois pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
"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). To justify a transfer under this
section, the moving party must show that venue is proper in the
transferee district and that the transfer will serve the
convenience of the parties and witnesses and will promote the
interest of justice. See American Littoral Soc. v. U.S.E.P.A.,
943 F. Supp. 548, 550 (E.D.Pa. 1996); see also Jumara v. State
Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995) (stating that
moving party has burden of showing transfer's appropriateness);
National Paintball Supply, Inc. v. Cossio, 996 F. Supp. 459, 462
(E.D.Pa. 1998) (same). The court should also look to such
(1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the relative
ease of access to sources of proof; (3) the availability
of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling
witnesses; (4) the possibility of viewing premises, if
applicable; (5) the cost of obtaining attendance of
willing witnesses; (6) all other practical problems that
make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive;
and (7) "public interest" factors, including the
relative congestion of court dockets, choice of law
considerations, and the relationship of the community in
which the courts and jurors are required to serve to the
occurrences that give rise to the litigation.
American Littoral Soc., 943 F. Supp. at 550 (citing Romann v.
Geissenberger Mfg. Corp., 865 F. Supp. 255, 264 (E.D.Pa. 1994),
partially abrogated on other grounds in Eagle Traffic Control v.
James Julian, Inc., 933 F. Supp. 1251, 1255-56 (E.D.Pa. 1996));
see also Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879 (describing factors).
The court agrees that venue is easily established in the
Northern District of Illinois and that the case could have been
brought there. Because both defendants reside in that district
and a substantial part of the occurrences giving rise to the claim
occurred there, venue would be proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
Plaintiff does not dispute this conclusion.
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 ...