The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER REGARDING CHRYSLER GROUP LLC'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1412
On November 30, 2009, Defendant Chrysler Group LLC ("Defendant") filed the instant motion to transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The matter was heard on January 8, 2010, before the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge. John Gherini appeared on behalf of Defendant Chrysler Group LLC. Plaintiff Moshe Shatzki did not appear.
Plaintiff Moshe Shatzki ("Plaintiff") filed the underlying complaint in Merced County Superior Court on September 15, 2009. The Complaint asserts causes of action arising from an incident on July 28, 2009, and names Irene Abrams, Boardwalk Auto Center, Inc. and Chrysler Group, LLC ("Chrysler Group") as Defendants.
According to the Complaint, on or about July 28, 2009, Plaintiff was driving a 2008 Chrysler Sebring and the trunk opened.*fn1 He pulled over to re-secure the trunk and could not see well because it was still dark. When he stepped out of the car, he fell into a ditch, injuring his head, hips and shoulder. He also damaged his dentures and lost his hearing aid.
Plaintiff alleges that Chrysler Group is responsible for making a defective product. He alleges that Boardwalk Auto Center, Inc. failed to properly repair the trunk after several attempts. He further alleges that Irene Abrams is the owner of the car and she will not provide insurance information so that he may make a claim. Plaintiff asserts motor vehicle, general negligence, intentional tort and products liability causes of action. He seeks medical expenses, long life disability and damages for emotional distress.
On November 20, 2009, Defendant Chrysler Group removed the action to this Court asserting that the state action is a civil proceeding arising under, in or related to cases under Title 11 of the United State Code ("Bankruptcy Code") over which the district courts have original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1334.
On November 30, 2009, Chrysler Group filed the instant motion to transfer venue to the Southern District of New York, for referral to the United States Bankruptcy Court in that District, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1412. No opposition has been filed. Chrysler Group filed a reply on December 31, 2009, noting the lack of opposition and providing copies of orders from other courts that have granted similar motions to transfer venue in cases involving Chrysler Group.
B. Chrysler LLC's Bankruptcy Case
On April 30, 2009, Chrysler LLC and 24 of its domestic direct and indirect subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No. 09-50002. The bankruptcy case is pending before Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez.
In connection with the bankruptcy case, the debtors, Fiat S.p.A ("Fiat") and Chrysler Group (then known as New Carco Acquisition LLC) entered into a Master Transaction Agreement dated April 30, 2009 ("Purchase Agreement"). The Purchase Agreement provided that the debtors would sell substantially all of their operating assets to Chrysler Group and Fiat. Gherini Dec. ¶ 6, Exhibit C.
After notice to all interested parties, the Bankruptcy Court held a three-day evidentiary hearing to consider approval of the Purchase Agreement. Alleged personal injury tort victims of Chrysler LLC were represented by counsel before the Bankruptcy Court by the Ad-Hoc Committee of Consumer Victims of Chrysler LLC. Counsel for the Ad-Hoc Committee objected to the sale and presented a written opening statement for the evidentiary hearing objecting to the proposed sale. Gherini Dec. ¶¶ 7 and 8, Exhibits D and E. The Bankruptcy Court overruled the Ad-Hoc Committee's objections to the sale, including overruling the objections that then pending ...