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G.A. Braun, Inc. v. Landstar Ranger, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 12, 2019

G.A. BRAUN, INC., Plaintiff,




         Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue (“Motion”). The Court finds that the Motion is suitable for determination without oral argument and therefore vacates the motion hearing set for July 19, 2019 pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). For the reasons stated below, the Motion is DENIED. The Case Management Conference previously scheduled for July 19, 2019 is continued to August 23, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.[1]


         In this action, Plaintiff G.A. Braun, Inc. (“Braun”) asserts claims for damage to cargo under the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, against carrier Landstar Ranger, Inc. (“Landstar”). Complaint ¶ 3. Braun alleges that Landstar agreed to transport cargo from New York to Maryland, that the cargo was in good condition when a Landstar truck received it, and that it was damaged when it arrived at its destination; the driver allegedly admitted that the damage occurred when he drove over a curb in transit. Id. ¶ 5; see also Complaint, Ex. A (Bill of Lading showing that truck was loaded in Syracuse, N.Y., with note that shipment was refused because it was damaged and that “driver hit curb on the way in”). In the Complaint, Braun alleges that Landstar “was at all times herein material engaged in business as a carrier of goods for hire and bailee for hire within this judicial district.” Id. ¶ 2.

         Landstar responded to the Complaint by bringing the instant Motion, asserting that the case should be transferred to the District of Maryland pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 14706(d)(2) (providing for venue in the judicial district in which the damage occurred) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) (providing for dismissal or transfer of action when it has been filed in the wrong venue). It argued in the alternative that the action should be transferred under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which gives the court discretion to transfer an action to another district for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice.

         In its Reply brief, Landstar withdrew its request to transfer under 49 U.S.C. § 14706(d)(2), conceding that under subsection (d)(1) of section 14706, venue lies in a judicial district in which the defendant carrier operates and that Landstar does operate in this judicial district. Landstar also apologized for “missing” Braun's allegation in paragraph 2 of the Complaint that Landstar operates in this judicial district. The only remaining question is whether the action should be transferred to the District of Maryland[2] under 28 U.S.C. § 1404. Landstar argues that it should because none of the relevant events occurred in this district, whereas the truck was loaded in New York, the driver resides in Hornell, New York, the cargo was delivered in Maryland and the inspector who inspected the damage on behalf of Braun's insurer is based in Boston, Massachusetts. See McAuley Decl. ¶¶ 4-7; McAuley Supp. Decl. ¶ 4.

         Braun argues that Landstar has not established that a transfer of this case to the District of Maryland is warranted under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and therefore, that Landstar's request should be denied.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standards

         1. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)

         A case may be transferred “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interests of justice, ” to “any other district or division where it might have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). There are two prongs to this analysis. First, the transferee district must be a district where the case could have originally been filed, meaning the court has jurisdiction and venue is proper. Wireless Consumers Alliance, Inc. v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., No. 03-3711 (MHP), 2003 WL 22387598, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 14, 2003). The moving party bears the burden to prove this first step. Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir. 1979). If the first prong is satisfied, the court decides whether to grant or deny a motion to transfer, balancing “the plaintiff's interest to freely choose a litigation forum against the aggregate considerations of convenience of the defendants and witnesses and the interests of justice.” Wireless Consumers, 2003 WL 22387598, at *1; 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The factors a court may consider include:

(1) plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) convenience of the parties; (3) convenience of the witnesses; (4) ease of access to the evidence; (5) familiarity of each forum with the applicable law; (6) feasibility of consolidation with other claims; (7) any local interest in the controversy; and (8) the relative court congestion and time of trial in each forum.

Royal Queentex Enters. Inc. v. Sara Lee Corp., No. C-99-4787 MJJ, 2000 WL 246599, at *2 (N.D. Cal., March 1, 2000) (citing Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 80 ...

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