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Duvall v. AVCO Corp.

January 30, 2006

RACHELLE DUVALL, AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF MARK DUVALL, DECEASED; AND RACHELLE DUVALL, AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF TAMMY DUVALL, DECEASED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AVCO CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jones

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before the Court is a Joint Motion to Transfer Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1404(a) ("the Motion")(doc.26) filed by Defendants, AVCO Corporation, on behalf of its Lycoming Engines Division ("AVCO"), Textron Inc. ("Textron"), Cessna Aircraft Company ("Cessna"), and Precision Automotive LLC ("Precision").

Diversity jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332. For the following reasons, the Motion is denied.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action arises out of an aircraft accident near Chickaloon, Alaska, on September 2, 2003, which killed the pilot, Glyn A. Bindon and his two passengers, Mark K. DuVall and Tammy S. DuVall. Rachell DuVall ("DuVall" or "Plaintiff"), the personal representative of the passengers' estates, commenced this action by filing a complaint (doc. 1) with this Court on September 1, 2005. The named Defendants in this action include Cessna, the manufacturer of the aircraft, AVCO, whose Lycoming Engines Division is the manufacturer of the engine, Precision, the manufacturer of the fuel servo, and Crane Co. ("Crane") d/b/a Lear Romec, the manufacturer of the fuel pump.

Slightly before 8 a.m. on September 2, 2003, Mark and Tammy DuVall joined Glyn Bindon on a flight departing from Homer, Alaska, aboard Mr. Bindon's Cessna T206 aircraft. The National Weather Service ("NWS") weather observer in the area reported limited visibility in the area and that Sheep Mountain Pass, a route Mr. Bindon intended to utilize, was closed. However, Mr. Bindon did not have this information during flight because he did not request any weather updates. At approximately 10 a.m., the aircraft piloted by Mr. Bindon crashed into the side of a mountain. Mr. Bindon and both of the DuValls were killed in the accident.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering a motion to transfer a civil action to another federal district, the applicable legal standard is "the convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In evaluating a motion to transfer, the court must first determine whether the action could have been brought in the transferee forum and, if so, then the court must balance several private and public interest factors. See High River Ltd. P'ship v. Mylan Labs, Inc., 353 F. Supp. 2d 487, 492 (M.D. Pa. 2005). Factors to be considered in determining a motion to transfer include the plaintiff's choice of forum, interests of the litigants, ease of access to sources of proof, costs of obtaining attendance of witnesses and judicial economy. See Gulf Oil v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508-509 (1947) As a general rule, "the plaintiff's choice of venue should not lightly be disturbed." Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F. 3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995).

DISCUSSION

The Defendants move this Court to transfer the instant action to the United States District Court for the District of Alaska pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). Under the aforementioned standard for transferring civil actions, we are first tasked to determine whether this action could have been brought in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska at the time it was brought in this Court.

However, our inquiry on this point ends before it begins, as the parties do not dispute that this action could have been properly initiated in Alaska. As a result, we must turn to a determination of whether the balancing of factors associated with transfer pursuant to §1404(a) warrant a transfer of this action to the District of Alaska.

In Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F. 3d 873, 879-80 (3d Cir. 1995), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit listed a variety of public and private interest factors that courts should consider in determining whether to transfer venue pursuant to §1404(a). Those private interest factors include: the plaintiff's selected forum; the defendant's preferred forum; whether the claim arose elsewhere; the convenience of the parties indicated by their relative physical and financial condition; and the convenience of the witnesses and the location of records (but only to the extent that either would be unavailable for trial in the forum). The relevant public interest factors include: the enforceability of the judgment; practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious or inexpensive; congestion of the dockets of the two considered fora; the local interest in deciding controversies at home; the public policies of the fora; and the familiarity of the judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases. A party seeking a transfer pursuant to §1404(a) bears the burden of demonstrating that these factors justify transfer. See In re United States, 273 F. 3d 380, 388 (3d Cir. 2001). The ...


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