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Rehmeyer v. Peake Plastics Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 15, 2017

JOANNE REHMEYER
v.
PEAKE PLASTICS CORPORATION,

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ELIZABETH T. HEY, U.S.M.J.

         In this products liability action, Plaintiff, Joanne Rehmeyer (“Plaintiff”), asserts claims of negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty against Model Pattern Company, Inc. (“MP”), Parker-Hannifin Corporation (“Parker”), and Sidener Engineering Company (“Sidener”) (collectively, “Defendants”), arising from personal injuries sustained at her workplace in Felton, Pennsylvania. Doc. 1.[1] Presently before the court is Defendant Parker's motion to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), and Plaintiff's opposition thereto. Docs. 46 & 47. For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Complaint alleges that on November 7, 2014, Plaintiff was injured while working on a trim press in the course of her employment with automotive parts maker Key Plastics, when a portion of the trim press disconnected from its cylinder and descended, causing hand injuries. Complaint, Doc. 1-2 (“Complaint”) ¶ 47.[2] Plaintiff is a resident of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, and her workplace injury occurred in Felton, Pennsylvania -- both in York County -- and she received post-injury medical care from a variety of emergency personnel and medical providers located in York County. Id. ¶¶ 1, 7; Plaintiff's Initial Disclosures, Doc. 46-8 (“Pl.'s Initial Disclosures”). York County is located in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 28 U.S.C. § 118(b).

         On October 21, 2016, Plaintiff initiated this products liability lawsuit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Philadelphia is located in this district, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 28 U.S.C. § 118(a). On October 25, 2016, Defendant Parker filed a notice of removal to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, where it was docketed at Case No. 1:16-CV-2155, and assigned to the Honorable William W. Caldwell.[3] Doc. 1-1; Doc. 47 Exh. A. Shortly thereafter Parker notified Judge Caldwell that the matter was improperly removed to the Middle District, and by Order dated October 31, 2016, Judge Caldwell determined that the matter should have been removed to this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), and therefore transferred it here. Rehmeyer v. Peake Plastics Corp., Case No. 1:16-CV-2155, Order (M.D. Pa. Oct. 31, 2016).[4] The matter was assigned to the Honorable Harvey Bartle, III. Judge Bartle denied Plaintiff's motion to remand, concluding that Judge Caldwell had properly transferred rather than remanded the matter following the improper removal. Docs. 21 & 22. The parties subsequently consented to my jurisdiction on March 3, 2017. Doc. 39.

         On April 12, 2017, Defendant Parker filed the present motion to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), arguing that the convenience of the parties and witnesses, and the interest of justice, weigh in favor of transferring the case back to the Middle District. Doc. 46. In response, Plaintiff argues that none of the relevant factors used in determining whether transfer is warranted under section 1404(a) favor transfer to the Middle District. Doc. 47. The other defendants have neither sought to join, nor opposed, Parker's motion.

         For purposes of the present motion, and given the nature of this case, the primary pertinent facts are the location of potential trial witnesses and exhibits. Most of these facts may be gleaned from the pleadings and the parties' initial disclosures, and they are not disputed unless otherwise noted.

         As stated above, Plaintiff is a resident of Shrewsbury in York County, Pennsylvania, and both her place of employment where the injury occurred and the medical facilities where she received treatment are located in York County. Complaint ¶¶ 1, 7; Pl.'s Initial Disclosures at 2-3. Defendant MP's principal place of business in Michigan, Defendant Parker's principal place of business is in Ohio, and Defendant Sidener's principal place of business is in Indiana. Complaint ¶¶ 4-6.[5]According to the Complaint, MP is in the business of designing, manufacturing and supplying and/or selling trim dies, including the trim die issued in the trim press at issue (“subject trim press”); Parker is in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling hydraulic cylinders, including the cylinder at issue (“subject cylinder”); and Sidener designed, manufactured, and sold the subject cylinder to Plaintiff's employer, Key Plastics. Id. ¶¶ 9-12.

         According to an incident report prepared by Key Plastics, their personnel made changes to the subject trim press during the summer of 2014, to change the mold/die being used, see Incident Report, Doc. 46 Exh. G (“Incident Report”), and this may have altered the height of the safety stops on the subject trim press. According to Plaintiff's Initial Disclosures, individuals with relevant knowledge include Plaintiff's co-workers at Key Plastics, all of whom live in York County, Pennsylvania. See Incident Report; Pl.'s Initial Disclosures. The subject trim press is stored at a facility in Loganville, Pennsylvania, which is also located in York County, where on March 28, 2017, it was inspected by counsel, expert witnesses and company representatives. See Inspection Sign-in Sheet, Doc. 46 Exh. K. A further inspection of the subject trim press is anticipated. Doc. 46 at 5 n.19 (ECF pagination).

         According to Sidener's Initial Disclosures, individuals with relevant information about the subject cylinder include its own employees who work in the state of Indiana, and other individuals located at Key Plastics' headquarters located in Michigan. See Sidener Initial Disclosures, Doc. 47 Exh. D.[6] Similarly, MP employees identified as having relevant information work in Michigan, Oregon, Indiana, and/or Ohio. See Doc. 47 Exhs. E-G; MP Initial Disclosures, Doc. 47 Exh. I.[7] Parker did not identify any individuals in its initial disclosures, but notes that Atlas Cylinders of Des Plaines, Illinois, is a potential third-party source of relevant and discoverable information. See Doc. 47 Exh. J.

         The parties have not provided any affidavits or statements indicating that any potential witnesses would be unable to attend trial in either Harrisburg in the Middle District, or Philadelphia in the Eastern District.[8]

         II. DISCUSSION

         Parker seeks a change of venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which states:

(a) For the convenience of the 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 or to any district ...

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