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Lehr v. Stryker Corp.

August 3, 2010

TIMOTHY LEHR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STRYKER CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Before the Court is Defendants Styrker Corporation, Stryker Instruments, and Stryker Sales Corporation's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and (6), or in the alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue to the Middle District of Pennsylvania Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (Doc. No. 18).*fn1 On February 15, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion (Doc. No. 24). On February 24, 2010, Defendants filed a Reply in Support of the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 25), and on May 26, 2010, the Court held a hearing on the Motion. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue to the Middle District of Pennsylvania and will deny Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Timothy Lehr is a resident of York, Pennsylvania. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he had shoulder surgery and that after surgery a pain pump manufactured by Defendants was inserted into his shoulder joint. A pain pump is a "medical device designed to deliver continuous does of pain relief medication directly into the shoulder joint space via catheter." (Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff maintains that anesthetic medication released by the pain pump caused him to develop in his shoulder arthritis and/or chondroylsis, which is a complete, or nearly complete loss of all cartilage. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 12.) Due to the allegedly faulty device, Plaintiff has undergone additional shoulder surgery. To obtain full relief, Plaintiff asserts that he needs a complete shoulder replacement. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 14.)

Defendants designed, manufactured, marketed and sold the pain pump inserted into Plaintiff's shoulder. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) Defendants are corporations organized under the laws of Michigan and have principal places of business in Michigan. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 3.) This case is brought in federal court under diversity of citizenship jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

Defendants move to dismiss this action on grounds of improper venue pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3), or in the alternative, move to transfer this action to federal court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss.) Plaintiff opposes the transfer, notwithstanding that the transferee forum is Plaintiff's home forum.*fn2

For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion to Transfer and will transfer this action to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Dismissal for Improper Venue

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) permits a party to raise the defense of improper venue in a pretrial motion. When an action is based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) states the requirements for proper venue.*fn3 First, venue is proper in any district where a defendant resides. § 1391(a)(1). Second, venue is proper in any district in which the events giving rise to the claim occurred. § 1391(a)(2). Third, venue is proper in any district in which defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction, if there is no other jurisdiction in which the action may be brought. § 1391(a)(3).

Defendants are corporations and reside in any district where they are subject to personal jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c).*fn4 For personal jurisdiction to be proper, a defendant's contact with Pennsylvania must satisfy either specific jurisdiction or general jurisdiction. Marten v. Goodwin, 499 F.3d 290, 296 (3d Cir. 2007). In Pennsylvania, general personal jurisdiction over a corporation exists when a corporation is involved in "carrying on of a continuous and systematic part of its general business within this Commonwealth." 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5301(a)(2)(iii).

B. Transfer of Venue

A district court may transfer a case pursuant to § 1404(a) "for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice" to "any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879-80 (3d Cir. 1995), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit set forth additional factors a district court may consider in deciding a motion to transfer. They are: "private interests" including "(a) plaintiff's forum preference as manifested in the original choice, (b) the defendant's preference, (c) whether the claim arose elsewhere, (d) the relative convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition, (e) the location of the witnesses, books and records (but only to the extent that the witnesses, books or records may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora)" and "public interests" including "(a) the enforceability of the judgment, (b) practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious or inexpensive, (c) the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion, (d) the local interest in deciding local controversies at home." Id.

The movant bears the burden of showing that venue is proper in the transferee forum, a transfer is more convenient for the parties and witnesses and transfer would be in the interest of justice. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. The movant must show that the balance of the Jumara factors weighs "strongly" in favor of transfer. Shirley v. First Comp Ins., No. 10-0476, 2010 WL ...


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