The opinion of the court was delivered by: Padova, J.
Plaintiff Gishan Bogollagama has brought this action against Equifax Information Services, LLC ("Equifax") for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the "FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq., and state law. Equifax has filed a Motion to Transfer Venue, asking that we transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.
Plaintiff, who lives in Rancho Cordova, California (Compl. ¶ 4) , has brought this action for violations of the FCRA based upon the following allegations. Equifax has reported derogatory and inaccurate statements and information related to Plaintiff and his credit history to third parties through the issuance of false and inaccurate credit information and consumer credit reports. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 9.) As a result of Equifax's dissemination of this inaccurate information, Plaintiff has been denied loans and extensions of consumer credit on many different occasions, precluded from receiving credit offers, and prevented from receiving the most favorable financing terms in connection with credit offers that were made to him. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) Plaintiff claims that, as a result of Equifax's conduct, he has suffered serious financial and pecuniary harm related to credit denials, loss of use of funds, loss of credit and loan opportunities, excessive and or elevated interest rates and finance charges, as well as out-of-pocket expenses including, but not limited to, local or long distance telephone calls, postage, faxing and related costs. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff has also suffered physical, emotional, and mental pain and anguish, damage to his credit rating and reputation, and a decreased credit score. (Id. ¶¶ 13-15.) Count I of the Complaint asserts a claim against Equifax pursuant to the FCRA for (1) failing to employ and follow reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of Plaintiff's credit report; (2) failing to properly and timely delete inaccurate information from Plaintiff's credit files; and (3) continuing to report inaccurate information. The Complaint also asserts claims against Equifax under state law for defamation (Count II); negligence (Count III); and invasion of privacy/false light (Count IV).
Equifax has moved to transfer this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which provides that "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." "[A] plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be disturbed." Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 241 (1981). However, a district court with jurisdiction over a case may transfer that case "[w]hen an alternative forum has jurisdiction to hear the case, and when trial in the plaintiff's chosen forum would 'establish . . . oppressiveness and vexation to a defendant . . . out of all proportion to plaintiff's convenience,' or when the 'chosen forum [is] inappropriate because of considerations affecting the court's own administrative and legal problems . . . .'" Windt v. Qwest Commc'ns Int'l, Inc., 529 F.3d 183, 189 (3d Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 927 (2009) (quoting Koster v. (Am.) Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., 330 U.S. 518 , 524 (1947)). The Supreme Court has "provided a list of 'private interest factors' affecting the convenience of the litigants, and a list of 'public interest factors' affecting the convenience of the forum" which we use in determining whether a case should be transferred. Piper Aircraft Co., 454 U.S. at 241 (quoting Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508-09 (1947)). The factors pertaining to the private interests of the litigants are: the relative ease of access to sources of proof; availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling, and the cost of obtaining attendance of willing, witnesses; possibility of view of premises, if view would be appropriate to the action; and all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive.
Gulf Oil, 330 U.S. at 508. The public interest factors are: "administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; the 'local interest in having localized controversies decided at home'; the interest in 'having the trial of a diversity case in a forum that is at home with the state law that must govern the case'; the avoidance of unnecessary problems in conflict of laws, or in the application of foreign law; and the unfairness of burdening citizens in an unrelated forum with jury duty." Windt, 529 F.3d at 189 (quoting Gulf Oil, 330 U.S. at 508-09).
When deciding whether to dismiss or transfer an action pursuant to §1404(a), the court first determines "whether an adequate alternative forum can entertain the case." Id. at 190 (footnote omitted). "If such a forum exists, the district court must then determine the appropriate amount of deference to be given the plaintiff's choice of forum. Once the district court has determined the amount of deference due the plaintiff's choice of forum, the district court must balance the relevant public and private interest factors." Id. "If the balance of these factors indicates that trial in the chosen forum would result in oppression or vexation to the defendant out of all proportion to the plaintiff's convenience, the district court may, in its discretion," transfer the case to the other district pursuant to § 1404(a). Id.
The district courts ordinarily give "a strong presumption of convenience . . . in favor of a domestic plaintiff's chosen forum, and this presumption may be overcome only when the balance of the public and private interests clearly favors an alternate forum." Id. (citing Piper Aircraft Co., 454 U.S. at 255.) However, when the plaintiff has not brought the action in his or her home forum, "this assumption is much less reasonable. Because the central purpose of any forum non conveniens inquiry is to ensure that the trial is convenient, a foreign plaintiff's choice deserves less deference." Piper Aircraft Co., 454 U.S. at 256. Consequently, "[w]hen the plaintiff is not a resident of the chosen forum, he must make a 'strong showing of convenience' in order for his choice to be given deference." Gunder v. CSX Transp., Civ. A. No. 08-6029, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58293, at *4 (E.D. Pa. July 9, 2009) (citing Windt, 529 F.3d at 190).
We first look at whether there is an available alternate forum where this action could have been brought. "Ordinarily, this requirement will be satisfied when the defendant is 'amenable to process' in the other jurisdiction." Piper Aircraft Co., 454 U.S. at 255 (quoting Gulf Oil, 330 U.S. at 506-07). Equifax seeks to have this action transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where its principal place of business is located. (Fluellen Decl. ¶ 7.) Consequently, venue would be appropriate in the Northern District of Georgia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Plaintiff does not dispute that this action could have been brought in that forum.
Since there is an available alternate forum, we must "determine the appropriate amount of deference to be given the plaintiff's choice of forum." Windt, 529 F.3d at 190. Plaintiff lives in Rancho Cordova, California (Compl. ¶ 4) and has not brought this action in his home forum. The Complaint does not allege that any of the actions underlying the Plaintiff's claims occurred in this district. Consequently, Plaintiff's choice of forum is accorded less deference, and he must make a "'strong showing of convenience' in order for his choice to be given deference" in our application of the private and public interest factors. Gunder, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58293, at *4 (citing Windt, 529 F.3d at 190); Piper Aircraft Co., 454 U.S. at 256. See also Nat'l Paintball Supply v. Cossio, 996
F. Supp. 459, 462-63 (E.D. Pa. 1998) ("A plaintiff's choice of forum, however, is entitled to less weight where the plaintiff chooses a forum which is neither his home nor the situs of the occurrence upon which the suit is based." (citing Jordan v. Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co., 590 F. Supp. 997, 998 (E.D. Pa. 1984); and Schmidt v. Leader Dogs for the Blind, Inc., 544 F. Supp. 42, 47 (E.D. Pa. 1982))); Hardy v. Fernandez, Civ. A. No. 09-1230, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72151, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 17, 2009) (stating that "'where the operative facts giving rise to the action occur outside of the forum selected by the plaintiff, the deference given to plaintiff's ...