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Burke v. Usf Reddaway

January 7, 2013

BURKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
USF REDDAWAY, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

This case is before the court on defendant USF Reddaway's motion to transfer venue. (ECF 8.) The motion was decided without a hearing. For the reasons outlined below, defendant's motion is GRANTED.

ALLEGED FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Defendant's semi-truck allegedly struck plaintiff, a pedestrian, at approximately 9:00 p.m. on August 5, 2011 in Sparks, Nevada, a suburb of Reno. (Compl. ¶ 10, Ex. A, ECF 1 ("Compl.").) Plaintiff alleges the truck and its two trailers were registered in Oregon and owned and operated by defendant. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges the truck's driver was employed by defendant. (Id. 11.) According to the police accident report, the truck driver saw a flash out of the corner of his eye, and before he could stop the truck it struck plaintiff. (Sparks Police Dep't Accident Report at 20, Ex. A, ECF 8-1.) Officers from the Sparks Police , firefighters from the Sparks Fire Department, and paramedics from the Reno-based Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority arrived at the scene after a witness dialed 911. (Id.) The paramedics immediately transported plaintiff to the Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno. (Id. at 21.)

Plaintiff alleges his legal residency is now in Sacramento, California. (Compl. ¶ 1.) As a result of the accident, plaintiff is unable to provide for his own personal needs (Devia Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 3, ECF 10-4), and is eligible for California disabled benefits (Ex. 6, ECF 10-7).

Plaintiff initially filed suit on a single claim of negligence on August 2, 2012 in California Superior Court, County of Sacramento. (Compl.) Defendant removed the action to this court on October 25, 2012. (Def.'s Notice of Removal, ECF 1.) On November 1, 2012, defendant filed the current motion to transfer venue, seeking transfer to the U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada, because a majority of the events related to plaintiff's action occurred there and because a majority of the witnesses to the accident reside there, outside of the subpoena power of this district. (Def.'s Mem. Mot. Transfer, ECF 8.) Plaintiff timely filed an opposition on November 30, urging this court not to disrupt plaintiff's choice of forum in large part because travel to Reno would be physically difficult given plaintiff's disabilities, and financially difficult for plaintiff and his guardian ad litem. (Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF 10.) Defendant timely filed a reply on December 7. (Def.'s Reply, ECF 12.)

STANDARD

When the district court finds that venue is proper, it is still within its discretion, "[f]or the convenience of the parties and witnesses, [and] in the interest of justice," to transfer an "action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "Section 1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an 'individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.'" Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. , 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)). "In ruling on a motion to transfer pursuant to § 1404(a), the Court must evaluate three elements: (1) convenience of the parties; (2) convenience of the witnesses; and (3) interests of justice." Safarian v. Maserati North America, Inc., 559 F. Supp. 2d 1068, 1071 (C.D. Cal. 2008) (citations omitted). "Once the court determines that venue is proper, the movant must present strong grounds for transferring the action . . . ." Id. (citing Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986)). "[A] motion to transfer venue for convenience pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) does not concern the issue 'whether and where' an action may be properly litigated. It relates solely to the question where, among two or more proper forums, the matter should be litigated to best serve the interests of judicial economy and convenience to the parties." Injen Tech. Co. v. Advanced Engine Mgmt., 270 F. Supp. 2d 1189, 1193 (S.D. Cal. 2003) (citations omitted).

In determining whether transfer is proper, the court must "balance the preference accorded plaintiff's choice of forum with the burden of litigating in an inconvenient forum." Decker Coal, 805 F.2d at 843 (citations omitted). The moving party must make a strong showing of inconvenience to upset the plaintiff's choice of forum. Id. According to the Ninth Circuit, relevant factors determining whether transfer is appropriate may include: (1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff's cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof. Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 928 (2000) (citing Stewart Org. Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988)).

The court attaches a "strong presumption in favor of plaintiff's choice of forum." Piper Aircraft v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255 (1981). Therefore, a defendant must be able to make a strong showing of inconvenience to upset a plaintiff's choice. Id. at 241.

ANALYSIS

Initially, the court finds, as it must, that this action "might have been brought" in the District of Nevada because the accident giving rise to plaintiff's claim occurred in that district. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); Hatch v. Reliance Ins. Co., 758 F.2d 409, 414 (9th Cir. 1985); 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). Indeed, plaintiff does not dispute that this action could have been brought in the District of Nevada. Therefore, venue would be proper in the District of Nevada.

To determine whether transfer is appropriate, the court next considers the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and the interests of justice, examining relevant Jones factors.

A. Convenience of the Parties

The court considers the convenience of the parties with respect to the following releva t Jones factors: plaintiff's choice of forum, the parties' contacts with the forum, and the contacts ...


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