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Healey v. Spencer

February 22, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable A. Howard Matz, U.S. District Judge


Stephen Montes Not Reported

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape

No. Attorneys NOT Present for Plaintiffs:

Attorneys NOT Present for Defendants:

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS (No Proceedings Held)


On October 20, 2009, Plaintiff Joseph M. Healey filed his Complaint against Defendants Prestige Automotive & Marine ("Prestige") and Tony P. Spencer and Naomi Spencer (collectively the "Spencer Defendants"). He alleged seven tort claims under federal maritime and Arizona state law in connection with a boating accident that occurred in Lake Havasu. On January 15, 2010, Prestige moved to transfer venue to the District of Arizona. Plaintiff opposed the motion on January 27, 2010. The Spencer Defendants have not taken a position on the motion. The Court held a hearing on the motion on February 22, 2010. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Prestige's motion.*fn1


Plaintiff alleges that he lost his foot as a result of a boating accident that occurred in Lake Havasu-a lake consisting of interstate waters on the border of California and Arizona that contains shoreline belonging to both states. Complaint ¶ 2. The accident occurred when the Spencer Defendants' boat, driven by Tony Spencer, collided with Plaintiff after Plaintiff jumped in the water to rescue two minors-Ian Yzabal and Allyson Yzabal-from the path of the Spencers' boat. Complaint ¶¶ 10, 12-15. Plaintiff alleges that these two minors fell into the water off of the boat of Daron Kelley when his boat was hit by the Defendants' boat. Complaint ¶ 12. The minors' mother, Nancy Yzabal, witnessed the accident, as did two of the Spencer Defendants' children-Kelsey and Nick Spencer. Police Report, Ex. C to Plaintiff's Opp'n. Cody Healey, Plaintiff's child, also witnessed the accident. Id.

Also included as a Defendant is Prestige. Plaintiff alleges that Prestige performed faulty repairs on the Spencer Defendants' boat that contributed to the accident. Complaint ¶ 5. These repairs occurred at Prestige's repair facility in Arizona.See Repair Invoice, Ex. E to Plaintiff's Opp'n. Prestige operates only in Arizona, though it does advertise to California residents. See Ex. A to Plaintiff's Opp'n (advertising using endorsements from California residents). The Spencer Defendants' boat is registered and harbored in Arizona, and both boats were launched from the Arizona shore of the lake that day. Complaint ¶¶ 2-3.

Criminal charges regarding the incident had been filed against Mr. Spencer in Arizona. Crawford Decl. ¶ 7. At the hearing, Plaintiff's counsel informed the Court that these criminal charges were dropped on January 29, 2010.


28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides: " For 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." The moving party has the burden of establishing that the case should be transferred to another district. See Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir. 1979). In determining whether transfer is appropriate, courts consider nine factors: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the convenience of the parties; (3) the convenience of the witnesses; (4) the ease of access to the evidence; (5) the familiarity of each forum with the applicable law;

(6) the feasibility of consolidation of other claims; (7) any local interest in the controversy; (8) the relative court congestion and time of trial in each forum; and (9) the availability of compulsory process. See Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison, Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986). Although courts must balance all of these factors, the convenience of the witnesses is often the most important factor. See Schwarzer, Tashima & Wagstaffe, Cal. Prac. Guide: Fed. Civ. Pro. Before Trial § 4:270 (The Rutter Group 2003). In addition, courts accord substantial weight to a plaintiff's choice of forum and generally do not transfer a case pursuant to § 1404(a) unless the defendant makes a strong showing of inconvenience. See Decker, 805 F.2d at 843. However, if the plaintiff does not reside in his chosen forum, courts accord ...

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