IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
June 22, 2005
JEREMY CURD, PLAINTIFF,
W.T. CAPITAL LENDING, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR TO TRANSFER
Defendant W.T. Capital Lender Services*fn1 moves to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer for convenience pro se Plaintiff Jeremy Curd's Title VII employment discrimination complaint. Plaintiff has filed a document that purports to be a motion for summary judgment and which the Court construes to be an opposition to Defendant's motion. Defendant has not filed a reply. Having considered all papers filed, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss for improper venue or to transfer for convenience and DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.
In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to employ him and denied him workers' compensation insurance due to his race or color. Defendant is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Fresno, California which lies within the Eastern District of California. Defendant's business records are located in Fresno and the person most knowledgeable about Plaintiff's claims is Senior Vice President Debra Berg who resides in Fresno.
I. Dismissal Based on Improper Venue
A. Legal Standard
The venue provision of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3), states that an action may be brought "in any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, . . . in the district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered, or . . . the district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice." Venue in a Title VII case is controlled by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) and not by the general venue provisions found in 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Johnson v. Payless Drug Stores, Inc., 950 F.2d 586, 587-88 (9th Cir. 1991).
Defendant argues that venue is proper only in the Eastern District of California because that is where Plaintiff would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, that is where Defendant has its principal place of business and that is where the relevant employment records are maintained and administered.
Defendant overlooks the fact that § 2000e-5(f)(3) provides that venue is proper in any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment action is alleged to have been committed. Because the alleged discrimination occurred in California, venue in the Northern District of California is proper.
Passatino v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Prods., 212 F.3d 493, 504-05 (9th Cir. 2000)*fn2 , cited by Defendant, is not applicable because there the issue was whether the unlawful employment practice took place in the State of Washington or the State of New Jersey, not whether the unlawful employment practice took place in one of two districts in the same State. Therefore, Defendant's motion to dismiss based on improper venue is DENIED.
II. Transfer for Convenience
A. Legal Standard
Title 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides, "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." A district court has broad discretion to adjudicate motions for transfer on a case-by-case basis, considering factors of convenience and fairness. Stewart Org. Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988); Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 639 (9th Cir. 1988).
The movant bears the burden of justifying the transfer by a strong showing of inconvenience. Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986). The motion may be denied if the increased convenience to one party is offset by the added inconvenience to the other party. Id.
When adjudicating a motion to transfer venue under § 1404(a), a district court must balance a number of case-specific factors, including the plaintiff's initial choice of forum, convenience of the parties and witnesses, and the interests of justice. Stewart Org., 487 U.S. at 29; Decker Coal Co., 805 F.2d at 842-43; Los Angeles Mem'l Coliseum Comm'n v. Nat'l Football League, 89 F.R.D. 497, 499 (C.D. Cal. 1981). As a general rule, the plaintiff's choice of forum is given significant weight and will not be disturbed unless other factors weigh substantially in favor of transfer. Id. This is especially true when the forum chosen by a plaintiff is its domicile. Id.
In one short paragraph, Defendant argues that this case should be transferred to the Eastern District for convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice because Defendant's main office is located in Fresno, its books and records are located in Fresno and its most knowledgeable witness works and resides in Fresno. However, Defendant does not address how transfer to the Eastern District would affect Plaintiff nor the rule that a Plaintiff's choice of forum will not generally be disturbed, especially when the forum is Plaintiff's domicile, as is the case here.
The Court concludes that Defendant's convenience in litigating this case in the Eastern District is outweighed by the inconvenience to Plaintiff who is litigating this case pro se and who is domiciled in this district. Furthermore, Plaintiff has filed a number of cases in this district and this Court has related them all. If this case were transferred to the Eastern District, it could not be related to the other cases before this Court. Thus, the interests of judicial efficiency also weigh in favor of denying transfer. Therefore, Defendant's motion to transfer based upon convenience of the parties is DENIED.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss or to transfer is DENIED.