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Bouldin v. Drudge

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 14, 2017

WILFRED A. BOULDIN
v.
CURTIS D. DRUDGE and PASCHALL TRUCK LINES, INC.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Savage, J.

         After removing this personal injury action from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, defendants Curtis Drudge and Paschall Truck Lines, Inc., have moved to transfer it to the Middle District of Pennsylvania where the accident occurred. Balancing the private and public interest factors of convenience and fairness weighs in favor of transfer. Therefore, we shall grant the motion.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The incident giving rise to this action occurred in the parking lot of a truck stop in Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.[1] In his complaint, Bouldin alleges that on November 23, 2015, while walking across the parking lot to enter the TA Greencastle #213 truck stop, he was struck by the tractor-trailer driven by Drudge and owned by Paschall.[2] Bouldin claims he sustained fractures of his right hip and tibia, and suffered two herniated disks.[3]

         None of the parties are residents of Pennsylvania. Bouldin resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.[4] Drudge is an Indiana resident.[5] Paschall is incorporated in and has its principal place of business in Kentucky.[6] The only identified eyewitness to the collision, Joseph B. Fox, resides in New York.[7]

         Analysis

         Venue is determined as follows: (1) when all defendants reside in the same state in which the district is located, the district within which any defendant resides; (2) the district where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred; or (3) where there is no other district in which the action can be brought, the district, not the state, where a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b)(1)-(3). The third basis is a fallback provision that applies only if venue is not available in any district under (b)(1) or (b)(2).

         The defendants have not moved to dismiss the action for lack of venue. Instead, they have moved to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for the convenience of the parties and witnesses. Thus, we shall address transfer under section 1404(a) without considering dismissal or transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

         A defendant moving for transfer of venue bears the burden of demonstrating that (1) the case could have been brought initially in the proposed transferee forum; (2) the proposed transfer will be more convenient for the parties and witnesses; and (3) the proposed transfer will be in the interest of justice. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995); Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970).

         Bouldin could have brought his action in the Middle District. All of the events giving rise to the claim took place there.

         Once the defendant establishes that the action could have been brought in the proposed district, the court must weigh several private and public interest factors to determine whether the balance of convenience tips in favor of transfer. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80. Among the factors considered when determining whether transfer is more convenient for the parties and in the interest of justice are: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the defendant's preferred forum; (3) the place where the claim arose; (4) the relative ease of access to the sources of proof; (5) the convenience of the parties in light of their relative financial status and physical location; (6) the availability of compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses; (7) the convenience of the witnesses; (8) the practical problems that make trial of a case expensive and inefficient; and (9) “public interest” factors, such as congestion of court dockets and the relationship of the jury and the community to the underlying district. Id. Depending on the nature and the facts of the case, these factors overlap and are intertwined.

         Because the analysis involved is “flexible and individualized, ” the court has broad discretion in deciding a motion for transfer of venue. Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988). Despite this wide latitude, a transfer motion is not to be granted without a careful weighing of factors favoring and disfavoring transfer. See Shutte, 431 F.2d at 24-25.

         The plaintiff's choice of forum

         The plaintiff's choice of forum typically receives “paramount consideration.” Id. at 25. However, the plaintiff's choice is given less deference where he does not live in the forum and none of the operative facts occurred there. Buckeye Pennsauken ...


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