United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
January 22, 2004.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES LLC, et al.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEGROME DAVIS, District Judge
Presently before this Court is Defendants MBNA America Bank, N.A.
("MBNA"), Equifax Information Services, LLC ("Equifax"), and Trans Union
LLC's ("Trans Union") (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Transfer
Venue to the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division (Dkt. No. 20).
For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion is Denied.
Plaintiff Angela Fernandez ("Plaintiff) is an individual who resides in
Port Orange, Florida. MBNA is organized and has its principal place of
business in Delaware. Equifax is organized and has its principal place of
business in Georgia. Trans Union is a Delaware limited liability company
with its principle place of business in Illinois and offices in Chester
County, Pennsylvania. This action arises out of Defendants alleged
violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et
Defendants move pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404 to transfer venue of
this action from this Court to the United States District Court for the
Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. In their motion, Defendants
argue that the convenience of the parties and witnesses, and the interest
of justice are better served by a transfer to the Middle District of
Division because: (1) there is no connection between Plaintiff's
claims and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania other than her attorneys,
Francis & Mailman, P.C.; (2) the material events giving rise to this
suit must have occurred in Middle District of Florida; (3) but for one
Trans Union corporate representative who must be present at trial
regardless of venue, no material witnesses or evidence are located in the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania; (4) Plaintiff is not a resident of the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and (5) two of the three Defendants
have no offices in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In her
opposition to Defendants' Motion, Plaintiff argues that her choice of
venue should not be disturbed because: (1) the material events giving
rise to this suit occurred in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; (2)
two of the three Defendants and third party Cendant Mortgage are within
the subpoena power of this Court; and (3) Defendants fail to identify any
witnesses or evidence located in the Middle District of Florida.
A district court may transfer a case to any other district where the
suit might have been brought "[f]or the convenience of the parties and
witnesses, in the interest of justice . . . " 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
When deciding a forum non conveniens motion, the court must
"consider all relevant factors to determine whether on balance the
litigation would conveniently proceed and the interest of justice be
better served by transfer to a different forum." Jumara v. State
Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995) (citations omitted).
The moving party bears the burden of establishing the need for a
transfer by demonstrating that "(1) the case could have been brought
initially in the proposed transferee forum, (2) the proposed transfer
will be for the convenience of the parties, (3) the proposed transfer
will be in the interests of the convenience of the witnesses, and (4) the
will be in the interests of justice." Miller v. Consol. Rail
Corp., 196 F.R.D. 22, 24-25 (E.D. Pa.2000). Furthermore, because
Plaintiff's choice of forum is to be given considerable weight, this
burden is greater than a mere preponderance of the evidence. See
Shutte v. Armco. Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970) ("It is
black letter that a Plaintiff's choice of a proper forum is a paramount
consideration in any determination of a transfer request, and that choice
should not be lightly disturbed. . . . Unless the balance of the
convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of the Defendant, the
Plaintiff's choice of forum should prevail.").
The Court concludes that Defendants have not met their burden. They
have not presented sufficient evidence demonstrating that this action
could be more conveniently tried in the Middle District of Florida. Two
of the three Defendants and third party Cendant Mortgage are located
within 100 miles of the Court. Only Equifax is more than 100 miles away.
But Equifax must travel by air to reach either district. Indeed,
Plaintiff is the only party who would benefit from the transfer of this
action. Plaintiff, however, has chosen to prosecute her case in this
District and that choice is given great weight.
ACCORDINGLY, this day of January, 2004, upon consideration of Defendant
MBNA America Bank, N.A., Equifax Information Services, LLC, and Trans
Union LLC's Motion to Transfer Venue to the Middle District of Florida
(Dkt. No. 20), and Plaintiff Angela Fernandez's response thereto, it is
hereby ORDERED that Defendants' Motion is DENIED.
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