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Agcs Marine Insurance Co v. Krieger American Transportation Co.

August 6, 2012

AGCS MARINE INSURANCE CO., PLAINTIFF,
v.
KRIEGER AMERICAN TRANSPORTATION CO., LLC; KNIGHT PORT SERVICES LLC; EXPRESS TRANS, INC.; DOUBLE J TRUCK REPAIR, INC.; AND DOES 1 THROUGH 20, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

JS-6

ORDER TRANSFERRING VENUE [10]

This action involves a freight accident that occurred in Mojave County, Arizona. Plaintiff AGCS Marine Insurance Co., a California insurance corporation, sued Defendants on behalf of its subrogor, H.D. Buttercup Rugs, for cargo damaged or lost as a result of the accident. Defendants seek to dismiss or transfer AGCS's suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) to the United States District Court of Arizona, where a related action is pending.*fn1 Or alternatively, to transfer the action to the Arizona court under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for forum non conveniens.*fn2

I.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Defendant Krieger American Transportation Co., LLC removed this action from the Superior Court of California based on federal question jurisdiction. All of the Defendants are corporations that transport, store, and forward cargo. (Compl. ¶¶ 3--6.) Of the four named Defendants, three are California corporations with principal places of business in California, and the fourth is an Arizona corporation with a principal place of business in Arizona. (Id.)

Defendants accepted a cargo load in Hawthorne, California, to be transported to White Plains, New York. (Id. ¶ 9.) While en-route, Defendants' tractor-trailer was involved in an accident. (Id. ¶ 10.)

In November of 2011, an entity named Knight Brokerage, LLC, filed an action for declaratory relief in the United States District Court of Arizona, which names as parties all of the parties in this case. Knight Brokerage sued there based on the Carmack Amendment, which allows a civil action against a freight carrier to be brought in the federal district where the loss or damage allegedly occurred. 49 U.S.C. § 14706(d)(2).

II.LEGAL STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3), a case may be dismissed for improper venue. Venue in federal question cases is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), which provides that venue is proper in any judicial district where any defendant resides if all defendants reside in the same state, or in any judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b)(1), (2). If there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought, venue is proper in any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a)(3).

For venue purposes, a corporation resides in any judicial district where it would be subject to personal jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). In states such as California, which has more than one judicial district, a corporation is deemed to reside in any district within the state with which its contacts would be sufficient to subject it to personal jurisdiction if the district were a separate state. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). Once a defendant has raised a timely objection to venue, the plaintiff has the burden of showing that venue is proper. Piedmont Label Co. v. Sun Garden Packing Co., 598 F.2d 491, 496 (9th Cir. 1979).

When determining proper venue, a court can look beyond the pleadings of the claim, and does not have to take a plaintiff's factual allegations as true. Murphy v. Schneider Nat'l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1137 (9th Cir. 2003). But when the facts are disputed, the trial court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all factual conflicts in favor of the non-moving party. Id. at 1138.

If the court determines that venue is improper, it must "dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). And for a motion to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for forum non conveniens, courts have broad discretion to adjudicate "according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness." Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc.,211 F.3d 495, 498 (9th Cir. 2000).

III.DISCUSSION

AGCS contends that the Central District of California should retain jurisdiction of the suit. In support of this assertion, AGCS avers that the original transaction engaging Defendants to transport the cargo occurred in California, and that Defendants are either California corporations, have their principal place of business in California, or conduct significant business in California. (Opp'n 2.) Defendants move to dismiss or transfer venue to the District Court of Arizona on the ...


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