United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Cibort sued her previous employer Capital BlueCross under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
12101, et seq., Age Discrimination in Employment
Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq., and
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §§ 951,
et seq. Cibort, a resident of Bressler, Dauphin
County, Pennsylvania, worked for CBC as an Accounts Payable
Clerk at its principal place of business and headquarters in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Cibort alleges that she was
subjected to a hostile work environment, refused a reasonable
accommodation, and ultimately fired by CBC due to her age and
mental disabilities. CBC moves to transfer the case to the
Middle District of Pennsylvania under 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a). The Court grants the Motion for the reasons that
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), the Court may transfer any civil
action to any other district or division where it might have
been brought “[f]or the convenience of parties and
witnesses, in the interest of justice[.]” 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.'” Madrazo v. Welcome Hotel Grp.,
LLC, No. 18-0427, 2018 WL 1942369, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Apr.
25, 2018) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S.
612, 616 (1964)). While transfer motions should not be
liberally granted, Lomanno v. Black, 285 F.Supp.2d
637, 643 (E.D. Pa. 2003) (quoting Dinterman v. Nationwide
Mut. Ins. Co., 26 F.Supp.2d 747, 749 (E.D. Pa. 1998)),
the Court has “broad discretion” to determine
whether transfer is appropriate. Jumara v. State Farm
Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 883 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing
Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29
(1988)). The movant bears the burden of establishing the need
for transfer. Buckeye Pennsauken Terminal LLC v.
Dominique Trading Corp., 150 F.Supp.3d 501, 505 (E.D.
Pa. 2015) (citing Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879).
consider “all relevant factors to determine whether on
balance the litigation would more conveniently proceed and
the interests of justice be better served by transfer to a
different forum.” Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). This
includes consideration of both the relevant private and
public interests. Id. The private interests include:
(1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the
defendant's preference; (3) where the claim arose; (4)
the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative
physical and financial condition; (5) the convenience of the
witnesses to the extent they would be unavailable in a
particular forum; and (6) the location of evidence to the
extent it cannot be produced in a particular forum. See
Id. The public interest factors are: (1) the
enforceability of the judgment; (2) practical considerations
that would make trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; (3)
the congestion of the court's docket; (4) the local
forum's interest in deciding the case; and (5) the trial
judge's familiarity with any applicable state law.
Id. at 879-80.
convenience of the parties and the interests of justice
necessitate transfer to the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Venue is proper in the Middle District under 28 U.S.C. §
1391(b) as both CBC's principal place of business is
located there, and all or substantially all of the acts
giving rise to Cibort's complaint occurred in the Middle
District. (Mot. to Transfer, Ex. A “Hull Aff.” at
¶¶ 3, 9, 10.) Further, both the private and public
factors weigh in favor of transfer.
prefers the Middle District because it is the more convenient
forum for the parties and the majority of the likely witnesses.
Cibort's claims arose out of her employment with CBC.
(See Compl.; Hull Aff. ¶¶ 3, 9, 10.) Both
Cibort and CBC reside in the Middle District and Cibort
worked in the defendant's Harrisburg office.
(See Compl.; Hull Aff. ¶ 3.) All of the
individuals named in the Complaint worked in the Harrisburg
office and the majority live in central Pennsylvania. (Hull
Aff. ¶¶ 10, 12.) All or substantially all of
CBC's alleged discriminatory conduct occurred in the
Middle District. (See Compl.; Hull Aff. ¶¶
3, 9, 10.) “When the vast majority of the acts giving
rise to plaintiff's claim take place in another forum,
that weighs heavily in favor of transfer.” Hamilton
v. Nochimson, No. 09-2196, 2009 WL 2195138, at *3 (E.D.
Pa. July 21, 2009) (citation omitted); see also In re
Amkor Tech., Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 06-298, 2006 WL
3857488, at *5 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 28, 2006) (“Typically the
most appropriate venue is where a majority of events giving
rise to the claim arose.”).
only response to CBC's Motion is that she filed suit in
the Eastern District because she “reasonably fears that
any jury pool from the Middle District would be infected with
potential bias” in favor of CBC due to its
“shining light” in the community. (Pl.'s
Resp. at 8.) Although a plaintiff's choice of forum is
typically accorded great deference, Lony v. E.I. DuPont
de Nemours & Co., 886 F.2d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1989),
that choice “‘is given less weight if the
plaintiff chooses a venue in which he or she does not reside
and in which none of the operative facts giving rise to the
suit occurred.'” Wartluft v. Milton Hershey
Sch. & Sch. Tr., No. 16-3594, 2016 WL 5167536, at *2
(E.D. Pa. Sept. 21, 2016) (quoting Cable v. Allied
Interstate, Inc., No. 12-0096, 2012 WL 1671350, at *3
(E.D. Pa. 2012)); see also Peikin v. Kimmel &
Silverman, P.C., 576 F.Supp.2d 654, 660 (D.N.J. 2008)
(granting motion to transfer employment discrimination case
to forum where plaintiff resided and where the conduct giving
rise to the complaint occurred, despite plaintiff's
choice of a different forum). The slight weight accorded to
Cibort's choice of forum is outweighed by the other
relevant private factors.
Cibort's alleged concerns about a fair trial are
unwarranted. She cites a few articles of positive media
coverage of CBC and the fact that the insurer employs
approximately 1, 400 people in Harrisburg in support of her
belief that she will not be able to get an impartial jury in
the Middle District. (See Pl.'s Resp. at 5-8.)
Plaintiffs routinely receive fair trials against defendants
which employ a large number of persons located in the forum
and any potential bias will be addressed through normal
voir dire.See Lamusta v. Lawson Mardon Wheaton,
Inc., No. 99-3931, 2000 WL 274013, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Mar.
13, 2000) (rejecting plaintiff's claim that she would not
receive a fair trial in defendant's venue of residence
because it was a “major employer there” and the
press published articles on the restructuring that resulted
in her termination).
applicable public interest factors also weigh in favor of
transfer. As previously stated, all of the parties and likely
witnesses reside in the Middle District or central
Pennsylvania. It is thus more practical for all involved to
litigate the case there. While the congestion of the
courts' dockets weighs slightly against transfer,
Middle District has a substantially greater interest in this
case. “[C]ontroversies relating to employment
discrimination claims are precisely the sort of disputes to
which the local community interests referenced in
Jumara attach.” Peikin, 576 F.Supp.2d
at 661 (D.N.J. 2008). This case has no relation to the
Eastern District, other than the fact that the
plaintiff's lawyer lives here.
balance of the applicable private and public interest factors
weigh in favor of transfer to the Middle District of
Pennsylvania where “litigation would more conveniently
proceed and the interests of ...