United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION INTRODUCTION
I. QUIÑONES ALEJANDRO, U.S.D.C. J.
this Court is a motion to transfer venue to the United States
District Court for the District of New Jersey filed by
Defendants Welcome Hotel Group, LLC, and Edison Holdings NJ,
LLC (collectively, “Defendants”), on the basis of
forum non conveniens pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1404(a). [ECF 5]. Plaintiff Paul Madrazo
(“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion. [ECF 6]. The
issues raised in the motion have been fully briefed and are
now ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth herein,
Defendants' motion to transfer is granted.
a resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, filed a complaint in
the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas which asserted
negligence claims against three defendants, Welcome Hotel
Group, LLC, Edison Holdings NJ, LLC, and Wyndham Hotels and
Resorts, LLC. [See ECF 5-5, Compl. at pp.
2-17]. Each of the negligence claims is premised on an
alleged slip and fall that occurred at a hotel located in
Trenton, New Jersey, owned and/or controlled by the named
defendants. [See id.]. Defendants Welcome Hotel
Group, LLC, and Edison Holdings NJ, LLC, both of which
maintain their principal places of business in Edison, New
Jersey, removed the matter to this Court on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction. [ECF 1]. Defendants then filed the
underlying motion to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1404(a) for forum non conveniens.
1404(a) 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 or to any district
or division to which all parties have consented.” 28
U.S.C. §1404(a). The purpose of transferring venue under
§1404(a) “is to prevent the waste of time, energy,
and money, and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public
against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.” Van
Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964). In
determining whether transfer is appropriate, “the
district court is vested with wide discretion, ”
Plum Tree, Inc. v. Stockment, 488 F.2d 754, 756 (3d
Cir. 1973), consistent with federal law. Jumara v. State
Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 877-78 (3d Cir. 1995).
of a request for transfer under §1404(a) generally has
two components. First, both the original venue and the
requested venue must be proper. Jumara, 55 F.3d at
878. Hence, venue is proper “(1) where the defendant
resides, (2) where a substantial part of the events giving
rise to the claim occurred, or (3) where personal
jurisdiction may be had over any defendant if no other venue
is proper.” Park Inn Intern., LLC v. Mody Enters.,
Inc., 105 F.Supp.2d 370, 375 (D. N.J. 2000) (summarizing
the statutory venue requirements of 28 U.S.C. §1391(a)).
If venue is proper, the court must then undertake a balancing
test to decide whether the convenience of the parties and
witnesses and the interest of justice would be better served
by a transfer to a different forum. Jumara, 55 F.3d
at 879; Coppola v. Ferrellgas, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 195,
197 (E.D. Pa. 2008). Although there is no definitive formula
or specific list of the factors to consider, when determining
whether a transfer is warranted, a court should weigh
existing relevant private and public interests in its
decision process. These interests are the following:
The private interests include: plaintiffs forum preference
as manifested in the original choice; the defendant's
preference; whether the claim arose elsewhere, the
convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative
physical and financial condition; the convenience of the
witnesses-but only to the extent that the witnesses may
actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora; and the
location of books and records (similarly limited to the
extent that the files could not be produced in the
The public interests include: the enforceability of the
judgment; practical considerations that could make the trial
easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; the relative
administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from
court congestion; the local interest in deciding local
controversies at home; the public policies of the fora; and
the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state
law in diversity cases.
Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80 (citations omitted).
party seeking the transfer bears the burden of establishing
the need for the transfer. Id. at 879. “Transfer
is not warranted, however, if the result is merely to shift
the inconvenience from one party to the other.”
DermaMed, Inc. v. Spa de Soleil, Inc., 152 F.Supp.2d
780, 783 (E.D. Pa. 2001). “[U]nless the balance of
convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of defendant,
the plaintiffs choice of forum should prevail.'”
Penn Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. BNC Nat. Bank, 2010 WL
3489386, at *8 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 2, 2010) (quoting Shutte
v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970)).
noted above, and contrary to the suggestion in
Plaintiff's response, Defendants seek transfer of this
matter to the District of New Jersey pursuant to the
forum non conveniens provision, 28 U.S.C.
§1404(a), only, and not pursuant to
§1406. As to the threshold inquiries required
under §1404(a), this Court finds that venue is proper in
this District because Defendants have effectively waived any
argument that venue in this District is
improper. In addition, this matter could have been
brought in the District of New Jersey since all Defendants
reside in New Jersey and “a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred”
in New Jersey. 28 U.S.C. §1391(b)(1)-(2).
Plaintiff does not dispute that this case could have been
brought in the District of New Jersey. As described above,
Plaintiff's claims arise out of a slip and fall that
occurred at a hotel in Trenton, New Jersey. As such, because
“a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to [Plaintiff's] claims occurred” in the
District of New Jersey, venue is proper in that District.
See §1391(b)(2). Having made this
determination, this Court will now consider the
Jumara private and public factors to determine
whether the convenience of the parties and witnesses and the
interest of justice weigh in favor of transfer.