Xavier Flores, Stacy Lee, Portia Prater, Asali Richardson,
Maria Ramirez, E.J. Santoro and Henry Starkes. The witnesses will
allegedly give testimony that plaintiff was out to get Bowman
because he would not give plaintiff appointments when she wanted them,
that Bowman had no opportunity to assault plaintiff because the
examining room was in plain view and that plaintiff's behavior was
inconsistent with her allegations. As stated above, all of these
witnesses are located near Fresno.
On the whole, the convenience of the witnesses favors defendants.
Plaintiff has identified witnesses in this district, but they are not
as important to the litigation as the witnesses defendant Bowman
identifies in the Eastern District. The testimony about damages is
likely cumulative, the expert's convenience is irrelevant and the
friends' testimony is likely inadmissable. The witnesses listed by
defendants, on the other hand, will testify about the merits of the
case. In the end, the balance of witness convenience favors defendants.
Defendants argue that complaints by inmates against Bowman are likely
to be at VSPW. Defendants also point to the possibility of an inspection
of the VSPW medical facility as reason evidence will be easier to access
if this trial is held in Fresno. Plaintiff argues that most documents
will be in Sacramento or in this district. Plaintiff's medical file will
accompany plaintiff to the Northern District when she is paroled and
CDC investigative materials are likely to be in Sacramento at CDC
headquarters. Plaintiff also notes the possibility of records in this
district related to Bowman's performance while employed here. Finally,
materials related to CDC training policies and procedures are likely
to be in Sacramento.
Plaintiff also argues that an inspection of the VSPW facility is
unnecessary and that the total amount of documents will be small enough
to be shipped here or to Fresno. The court disagrees that a jury viewing
of the VSPW medical facilities is unnecessary. A large part of Bowman's
defense appears to be that he had no opportunity to assault plaintiff
because the examining room was in plain view during the time he allegedly
assaulted her. An inspection of the VSPW medical facility is therefore
likely to be necessary. With respect to the location of documents, the
court is unconvinced that the amount of documentation involved in this
case, even if located outside this district, will be so great as to make
shipping the documents unwieldy. In any event, neither party has alleged
with particularity the location of relevant documents. The location of
documents, consequently, does not favor either side. Since the court
agrees that viewing the premises may be necessary, this factor favors
transfer to Fresno.
There is no reason to believe that a judge in the Eastern District will
be more familiar with the applicable law than the judges of this district.
This factor does not favor transfer.
The feasibility of consolidating this claim with other does not appear
to be relevant in this case and thus also does not favor transfer.
Fresno and San Francisco have different local interests in this
controversy. Fresno is the place where the alleged wrong occurred and thus
has a strong interest in this case. Plaintiff alleges not just a single
incident of wrongdoing, but a pattern of improper treatment of female
inmates at VSPW. This is undoubtedly a concern to
the Eastern District. At the same time, plaintiff may soon become a
resident of this district and the principal defendant is now a resident
of this district. This gives the Northern District a strong interest in
the case as well. But overall, the court must conclude that Fresno has
the greater interest in this case. The dispute is one that grew out
events and practices at VSPW in Chowchilla, California, which is
located in the Eastern District.
Plaintiff has presented some evidence that prisoner civil rights cases
proceed more quickly in this district that in the Eastern District. Bien
Decl ¶ 23, Exh. G. The difference, however, is slight. The average
number of days to termination after filing is 420 days in the Eastern
District. Id. This factor, given the small difference, plays a small role.
Considering all of the factors, the court concludes that defendants have
met their burden of showing that a transfer is necessary for the
convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice.
The deference owed to plaintiff's choice of forum is slight. The only
factors that favor keeping the action here are plaintiff's convenience
and the slight congestion differential. On the other hand, the
convenience of the witnesses, the location of evidence and the local
interest is resolving the dispute favor a transfer.
In sum, plaintiff's motion to strike (Doc #29-1) is DENIED and
defendants' motion to transfer (Doc #7-1) is GRANTED.
IT IS ORDERED.