their official capacities for declaratory or
injunctive relief, the answer would be clear: Procario and its
progeny would apply and the defendants would reside, for the
purpose of venue analysis, in the state capitol or where they
performed their duties, both of which appear to fall in the Middle
District. However, in the present case, plaintiff is suing
defendants in their individual capacities for money damages.
Therefore, the defendants reside only in their individual
residences for the purpose of ascertaining venue.
Defendants take issue with this analysis, citing language
from a footnote in a 14-year-old, unpublished decision which
reads, "In the context of venue, the individual defendants should
be viewed as state officials. While the amended complaint states
that the [officials] are sued in their individual capacities, it
identifies their official capacities and does not allege their
office addresses or residences." Continental Vintners, 1986 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 26618, at *4 n. 3.*fn10 Essentially, the Continental
Vintners court chose to ignore the true nature of the allegations
in the complaint, and instead recast plaintiff's suit against
state officials in their individual capacities as suits against
the officials in their official capacities for the purpose of
analyzing venue. I am not persuaded by the Continental Vintners
footnote and believe its approach is incorrect.
I see no reason to treat his claims as anything other than
what they are: claims against individuals for money damages. The
only relevant residence in a claim for money damages against a
individual defendant is that defendant's private residence, and
therefore the personal residences of the individual defendants in
this case are the only residences relevant to this Court's venue
analysis. Defendants' status as public officials has no effect
the venue analysis in a suit against them in their individual
capacities for money damages.
This reasoning is supported by the Supreme Court of the
United States, which has recognized a meaningful distinction in
the § 1391 venue analysis between suits for injunctive relief
against public officials in their official capacities, and suits
for money damages against public officials in their individual
capacities. See Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 527, 544, 100 S.Ct.
774, 783-84 (1980) ("Suits for money damages for which an
individual officeholder may be found personally liable are quite
different [from mandamus-type suits against officeholders in their
official capacities]."). The Court in Stafford warned against an
approach to venue that treated differently suits for money damages
against public officials and private individuals, observing that
permitting nationwide venue for suits against federal officials
for money damages "would place federal officers, solely by reason
of their Government service, in a very different posture in
personal damages suits from that of all other persons, since under
28 U.S.C. § 1391 (b), suits against private persons for money
damages must be brought `in the judicial district where all
defendants reside, or in which the claim arose.'" Id. at 544, 100
S.Ct. at 785. Stated differently, suits against officials in
their individual capacities for money damages should be treated
identically to suits against private persons under § 1391(b).
Thus, an approach to venue in cases against public officials
that blurs the lines between individual and official capacities or
treats public officials differently than private individuals is
ill-advised under Stafford. Thus, defendants' suggested approach
of recasting plaintiff's action as one
against the defendants' in
their official capacities for the purpose of determining venue,
and creating a fictional "official address" for state officials'
residences in a manner different from private individuals, is the
very kind of approach to venue the Supreme Court frowned upon in
Stafford, and I reject it.
There is a better way. In Valdes v. Gordon, 949 F. Supp. 21
(D.D.C. 1996), the court created no fictional "official residence"
for defendants, and appeared to consider only defendants' (United
States Customs agents) individual residences in determining
whether venue was proper under § 1391(b). See id. at 25-26 ("All
defendants reside in Florida. Therefore, venue cannot lie in this
district under subsection (1) of § 1391(b).")*fn11; see also
Moore v. Agency for Int'l Development, 994 F.2d 874 (D.C. Cir.
1993) (holding that because official defendants sued in their
individual capacities did not reside in the District of Columbia,
§ 1391(b)(1) did not apply and venue was improper on that
basis); cf. Weber v. Rivers, 376 F.2d 604 (4th Cir. 1967)
(prisoner suing members of the District of Columbia parole board
could not sue in Virginia because the individual board members
resided in the District of Columbia). I believe Valdes reflects
the proper analysis and adopt it for the purpose of determining
venue under § 1391(b)(1).
Treating plaintiff's action as a complaint against defendants
in their individual capacities, I consider whether defendants have
established that venue is improper under § 1391(b)(1), basing
the venue analysis on the private residences of the defendants.
My analysis of venue in this case is greatly simplified by
the fact that defendants have failed to produce any evidence on
this issue. Defendants have relied wholly on their argument that
defendants' residences are their offices, and have made no showing
concerning their individual residences. Defendants have not
introduced any evidence that none of them reside in the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania. Defendants have not met their burden of
proving that venue is improper. Therefore, I conclude that venue
is proper under § 1391(b)(1) in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania, and defendants' motion to dismiss will be denied.
B. Transfer Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404
Even when venue is proper, a court may, "[f]or the
convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, . . . transfer any civil action to any other district or
division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404 (a).
"The burden of establishing the need for transfer still rests with
the movant. And, in ruling on defendant's motion the plaintiff's
choice of venue should not be lightly disturbed." Jumara v. State
Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995) (quotations and
In considering motions to transfer, the Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit applies an analysis that focuses on public and
private interests protected by § 1404(a):
The private interests have included: plaintiff's forum
preference as manifested in the original choice; the
defendant's preference; whether the claim arose elsewhere;
the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative
physical and financial condition; the convenience of the
witnesses — but only to the extent that the witnesses may
actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora; and the
location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent
that the files could not be produced in the
The public interests have included: the enforceability of the
judgment; practical considerations that could make the trial easy,
expeditious, or inexpensive; the relative administrative
difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion; the
local interest in deciding local controversies at home; the public
policies of the fora; and the familiarity of the trial judge with
the applicable state law in diversity cases.
Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-880. Each factor should be examined
individually to show they have been properly considered. See White
v. ABCO Engineering Corp., Nos. 98-6206, 98-6207, 1999 U.S. App.
LEXIS 31524, at *9 (3d Cir. Dec. 2, 1999).
Again, defendants have made analysis all but unnecessary.
Properly considering the factors in the factual context of this
case is nearly impossible, because the Court has been provided no
facts or evidence on which to base its analysis. On the record
before me, I find plenty of argument, but not a trace of
evidentiary support for defendants' motion to transfer; no
affidavits, no depositions, no stipulations, no other documents.
See Plum Tree, Inc. v. Stockment, 488 F.2d 754, 756 (3d Cir.
1973). Defendants have utterly failed to carry their burden of
proving that venue should be transferred to the Middle District of
Defendants have not provided a list of witnesses they would
call for trial but could not call to this district, have not
provided statements of any hardships the moving parties would
suffer as a result of being haled into court in the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania, or declarations concerning the location
and accessibility of other evidence in the Middle District of
Pennsylvania. See id. at 756-57; see also Electro Medical Equip.
Ltd. v. Hamilton Medical AG, No. 99-579, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
18483, at *32 (E.D.Pa. Nov. 15, 1999); Ayling v. Travelers
Property Casualty Corp., No. 99-3243, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16716,
at *11 (E.D.Pa. Oct. 27, 1999). Despite clear instructions from
the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on the evidentiary
showing necessary to prevail on a motion to transfer, see Plum
Tree, 488 F.2d at 756-57, defendants have come before this Court
clothed in merely their legal briefs. I conclude that defendants
have not met their burden of showing that transfer is appropriate,
and therefore the motion to transfer pursuant to § 1404(a) will
Defendants have brought no evidence before this Court to
support a motion to dismiss for improper venue or a motion to
transfer, and therefore defendants will not prevail. Burdens of
proof are meaningful elements of legal analysis, and occasionally,
where the evidentiary record is wanting, the burden of proof will
determine the outcome of a motion. Such is the case here. Because
defendants have not met their burden of proof, their motion will