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Kaur v. Us Airways, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 6, 2013

SUKHBIR KAUR, Plaintiff,
v.
US AIRWAYS, INC., Defendant.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE (Docket No. 19)

EDWARD M. CHEN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Transfer of Venue. Docket No. 19. Plaintiff filed the instant suit, which alleges disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, in state court on October 31. 2012. Defendant removed the case to federal court on November 21, 2012. Defendant now moves to have the case transferred to the District of Arizona, where Defendant is based, and where Plaintiff has moved since filing suit. The parties agree that this case could have originally been filed in the District of Arizona, but dispute whether the relevant factors weigh in favor of this Court exercising its discretion to transfer the case. Having read and considered the papers presented by the parties, the Court finds this matter appropriate for disposition without a hearing.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff began working for Defendant as a customer service agent at the Oakland Airport in 2002. First Amended Complaint ("FAC") § 11; Declaration of David Whitfield ("Whitfield Decl.") § 4 (Docket No. 21). Defendant is an airline with its headquarters in Tempe, Arizona. Whitfield Decl. § 3. In March 2010, Plaintiff suffered a work-related injury to her back. Declaration of Sukhbir Kaur ("Kaur Decl") § 4 (Docket No. 27). After her injury, Plaintiff continued to work light duty until August 2010, when she alleges Defendant compelled her to take unpaid medical leave. FAC §§ 13-14.

In December 2010, Plaintiff's doctor released her to work with permanent medical restrictions. Kaur Decl. § 4. At that time, requested to be returned to modified work. Id. § 9. She spoke with Defendant's Station Manager for the Oakland Airport, Alfredo Manteca, and Defendant's Human Resources Manager David Whitfield. Id. While Mr. Manteca worked in Oakland and still resides in Northern California, Mr. Whitfield worked and continues to work at Defendant's headquarters in Arizona. Whitfield Decl. § 3; Kaur Decl. § 6, 8. At some point in time, Mr. Manteca retired, and was replaced by James Nobles. Id. § 11. Plaintiff continued to request modified work, including submitting transfer requests to positions in other cities in California and across the country. Id. § 12. She filed the instant suit in state court on October 31, 2012. Docket No. 1.

Finally, in late November 2012, Plaintiff was selected for and accepted a modified position with Defendant in Phoenix, Arizona. Whitfield Decl. § 7; Kaur Decl. § 13. Plaintiff states that she took this position because she was facing a "serious financial crisis, " and that she is currently trying to transfer back to California, where many of her family members and her "entire support system" reside. Kaur Decl. §§ 13, 16. In Arizona, she does not have a permanent residence, but is staying in temporary lodgings at the YMCA. Id. § 17. Plaintiff considers San Francisco to be her permanent place of residence. Id. § 19. She has her mail sent to her address in San Francisco, and has returned to California every week since beginning to work in Phoenix. Id.

Other facts are discussed as relevant to the factors below.

III. DISCUSSION

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides that, "[f]or 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In the instant case, Defendant seeks a transfer to the District of Arizona. Plaintiff does not argue that the District of Arizona is a district where the action could not have been brought. See Pl.'s Opp. at 4 n.1. Accordingly, the only question is whether this Court should transfer the action for the convenience of parties and witnesses, and in the interest of justice.

A district court has discretion in deciding whether or not to transfer a case. See Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 486 F.3d 1111, 1118 (9th Cir.2007) (stating that a "district court's decision to change venue is reviewed for abuse of discretion"; adding that "[w]eighing of the factors for and against transfer involves subtle considerations and is best left to the discretion of the trial judge'"). The party seeking transfer has the burden of showing that transfer is appropriate. See Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir.1979). The Ninth Circuit has noted that, in exercising its discretion, a court may consider factors such as:

(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. Additionally, the presence of a forum selection clause is a "significant factor"....

Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000); see also Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986) (discussing private and public ...


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