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Tarasovsky v. The Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 15, 2017

ERNEST TARASOVSKY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GUARDIAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO CHANGE VENUE

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         In this ERISA action, plaintiff seeks interest on payment benefits and consequential damages for breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duties. Defendant moves to transfer venue. For the reasons herein, the motion is Granted.

         STATEMENT

         Plaintiff Ernest Tarasovsky was and is a qualified participant in, and a beneficiary of, a group insurance plan with his former employer, Stratify. The group plan is administered by defendant, Guardian Life Insurance. In March 2010, Tarasovsky submitted a claim for long-term benefits, which Guardian denied. In July 2011, Tarasovsky filed suit, seeking short-term disability benefits and long term disability benefits under the “own occupation” standard in the group policy. In May 2013, this court awarded Tarasovsky benefits under the “own occupation” standard and remanded to Guardian the issue of whether Tarasovsky was eligible for additional benefits under the “any occupation” standard of the policy.

         Following this court's remand, Guardian denied Tarasovsky's claim. Tarasovsky appealed, disputing Guardian's reliance on a functional capacity examination and a form completed by Dr. Arnold Criscitiello in its decision to deny Tarasovsky additional benefits. In May 2016, Tarasovsky's counsel sent Guardian a letter and attached declaration signed by Dr. Criscitiello in which he stated that his medical opinion was different than what Guardian had interpreted. In August 2016, Guardian reversed its decision and granted benefits to Tarasovsky. Over a month later, Guardian paid out the benefits to Tarasovsky in the form of a check for the amount of benefits which had accrued since the February 2012 date of qualification. The payment did not include interest (Dkt. No. 1 ¶¶ 2-21; Dkt. No. 13-1 at 5-7).

         Tarasovsky filed the instant action in June 2017, alleging claims under 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B) and 1132(a)(3), for which he seeks interest on the benefits which he alleges were wrongfully withheld, and consequential damages for breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duties (Dkt. No. 1). In August, defendant filed a motion to transfer to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Dkt. No. 13). This order follows full briefing and oral argument.

         ANALYSIS

         Defendant argues that, pursuant to Section 1404(a), this action should be transferred to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. For the reasons below, this order agrees.

         1. Legal Standard.

         Section 1404(a) states that “a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought” if such a transfer is convenient to the parties and witnesses. The purpose of Section 1404(a) is to “prevent the waste of time, energy, and money and to protect litigants, witnesses, and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.” Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964). Our circuit has identified several factors a court may consider when determining whether a Section 1404(a) change of venue should be granted:

(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) (citations omitted). A district court has discretion to conduct “individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness” when weighing the various factors. See Van Dusen, 376 U.S. at 622. This order will now consider each Jones factor.

         2. Convenience and Fairness ...


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