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SILVA v. MAYO CLINIC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania


July 12, 2004.

JUDITH M. SILVA, Plaintiff,
v.
MAYO CLINIC Defendant.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES SMITH, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff has asserted claims against her former employer under Title VII for alleged employment discrimination, including racial discrimination and retaliation. Presently before the court are defendant's Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), (b)(3), and (b)(5), arguing lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and insufficient service of process. In the alternative, the defendant has moved to transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons discussed below, this case will be transferred, but the transfer will be grounded in the mandatory venue provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3).

I. FACTS

  On October 23, 2003, plaintiff, Judith M. Silva, filed a charge of unlawful racial discrimination and retaliation with the Minneapolis, Minnesota Area Office of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against her former employer, Mayo Clinic. On January 6, 2004, the EEOC issued plaintiff a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter stating that, based upon its investigation, it was unable to conclude that violations of law had occurred. On April 6, 2004, plaintiff filed her first Complaint in this Court alleging that defendant, Mayo Clinic, unlawfully discriminated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act while she was employed as a Chaplain. Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint on May 14, 2004, maintaining claims of racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (a), against the defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint, as it had with plaintiff's first Complaint.

  II. DISCUSSION

  As noted above, defendant's motion raises numerous bases for dismissal and/or transfer of venue. Because we deem the issue of venue to be dispositive, however, we focus solely on that claim. Title VII contains a provision strictly limiting venue for civil rights actions, setting forth four judicial districts where an employment discrimination action may be brought:

Each United States district court and each United States court of a place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States shall have jurisdiction of actions brought under this subchapter. Such an action may be brought (1) in any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, (2) in the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered, or (3) in the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, but if the respondent is not found within any such district, such an action may be brought (4) within the judicial district in which the respondent has his principal office. For purposes of sections 1404 and 1406 of Title 28, the judicial district in which the respondent has his principal office shall in all cases be considered a district in which the action might have been brought.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(3) (1994). By way of this provision, "Congress clearly intended to limit venue to the judicial districts concerned with the alleged discrimination." Kravitz v. Institute for Intern. Research, Inc., Civ. A. No. 92-5045, 1993 WL 453457, *2 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 5, 1993). For employment discrimination cases, the Title VII venue provisions are exclusive. Id. (citing Thurmon v. Martin Marietta Data Systems, 596 F. Supp. 367, 368 (M.D. Pa. 1984).

  Although neither party discussed this provision, the Court finds it controlling in the instant case. Our examination of the facts of this case convinces us that venue is not proper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, but rather lies in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. In the instant case, plaintiffs' employment with the Mayo Clinic between July 6, 2002 to August 27, 2003 occurred exclusively in Rochester, Minnesota, within the judicial district of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. All employment records are maintained and administered in Mayo Clinic's office in Rochester, Minnesota. Plaintiff makes no assertion that she would have worked outside the aforementioned judicial district but for the alleged discrimination and retaliation of Mayo Clinic. Finally, Mayo Clinic's principle place of business is in Rochester, Minnesota.

  In the absence of any countervailing evidence, and in light of the relevant venue provisions, venue is not proper in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Rather, the facts before us establish that the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota meets each of the Title VII requirements and is the exclusive venue for the adjudication of plaintiff's claims. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), "[t]he district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district, shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it should have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) (West 2004) (emphasis added). As this case should have initially been brought in the District of Minnesota, we now transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).*fn1

  In so transferring the case, we deny plaintiff's request for limited discovery for the purpose of establishing personal jurisdiction over Mayo Clinic in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.*fn2 Any finding in support of personal jurisdiction over the defendant would still not overcome plaintiff's improper venue choice in light of the mandatory venue provisions for Title VII claims under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(3). Furthermore, plaintiff's purported bases for establishing personal jurisdiction over Mayo Clinic in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are tenuous at best.

  Having concluded that venue is improperly laid with this Court and that the venue provisions found in Title VII establish the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota as the only appropriate venue for plaintiff's claims, this Court will proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). We believe it to be in the greater interest of judicial economy to transfer the case, rather than dismiss, only to have plaintiff bear the expense of commencing new litigation in Minnesota. ORDER

  AND NOW, this day of July, 2004, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Plaintiff's Response thereto, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1. Defendant's Motions to Dismiss are DENIED;
2. Defendant's Motion to Transfer is GRANTED and this case is hereby TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a);
3. The Clerk is hereby DIRECTED to TRANSFER the original pleadings of this case to the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.
It is so ORDERED.


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