United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
July 12, 2004.
JUDITH M. SILVA, Plaintiff,
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).
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.
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.