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Dynka v. Norfolk Southern Railway Corp.

June 15, 2010

BRYAN DYNKA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY CORP., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pratter, J.

MEMORANDUM

On November 21, 2009, Bryan Dynka sued the Norfolk Southern Railway Corporation ("Norfolk Southern") and the Chemtura Chemical Corporation ("Chemtura"), alleging that he was injured by toxic chemicals while employed as a railroad conductor by Norfolk Southern, and that his injuries were attributable to negligence on the parts of Norfolk Southern and Chemtura. Mr. Dynka's claim against Chemtura was dismissed on December 10, 2009.

Norfolk Southern has filed a Motion to Transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Transfer is granted.

JURISDICTION

The Court has federal-question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, since Mr. Dynka's claim arises under federal law. The Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, inasmuch as Mr. Dynka is a citizen of Pennsylvania and Norfolk Southern is a citizen of Virginia, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In March of 2008, Plaintiff Bryan Dynka was employed by Norfolk Southern as a conductor (Complaint at ¶¶ 8). Mr. Dynka alleges that on or about March 20, 2008, while working at a facility owned or operated by Chemtura, he was exposed to toxic chemicals and suffered severe damage to his respiratory system (id. at ¶¶ 8, 10).

On October 21, 2009, Mr. Dynka sued both Norfolk and Chemtura, alleging one count of negligence under the Federal Employees Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. §51 et. seq., against each defendant. Mr. Dynka argued that Norfolk Southern and Chemtura had failed to provide a safe environment in which to work (id. at ¶¶ 9, 18).*fn1 On December 15, 2009, Norfolk filed a Motion to Transfer this action from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Docket No. 10).

The parties agree that the Chemtura facility at which Mr. Dynka's accident occurred is located in the town of Westover, West Virginia (Motion to Transfer at ¶ 5; Response to Motion at ¶ 5). Westover -- a suburb of Morgantown, West Virginia -- is situated approximately 10 miles from Greene County, Pennsylvania, which is in Pennsylvania's Western District. Westover is just over 240 miles from Lancaster County (the westernmost county in Pennsylvania's Eastern District), and more than 300 miles from Philadelphia.*fn2

Mr. Dynka resides in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania and reports to work for Norfolk Southern in Brownsville, Pennsylvania (Motion to Transfer at ¶ 6). Both Lower Burrell and Brownsville are situated in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Six of the seven likely employee fact witnesses who have been identified by Norfolk Southern reside in the Western District (Memo in Support of Motion to Transfer at 11-13). The only Norfolk Southern witness who does not reside in the Western District is the company's Manager of Industrial Hygiene, Mark Dudle, who resides in Atlanta, Georgia (id. at 13 n.3). Neither party has identified the residential address of any Chemtura witness.*fn3

In addition, all but one of the healthcare providers that treated Mr. Dynka's injuries are located in the Western District of Pennsylvania (id. at 14-15). The exception is the Ruby Memorial Hospital, where Mr. Dynka received his initial ministrations, which is affiliated with the University of West Virginia, immediately across the Monongahela River from Westover.*fn4

DISCUSSION

"For 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."

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Federal district courts have broad discretion "to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an 'individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.'" Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 ...


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