United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO DISMISS FOR IMPROPER VENUE OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE,
MOTION TO TRANSFER
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiffs, Michael Parker and his wife, Beth Parker, filed a
complaint in the Circuit Court of Ohio County, West Virginia,
alleging claims of breach of contract and bad faith against
the defendants, United Financial Casualty Company
(“United”) and Progressive Casualty Insurance
Company (“Progressive”). The defendants
thereafter removed this civil action to this Court and filed
a motion to dismiss for improper venue or, in the
alternative, motion to transfer. Specifically, the defendants
request that this Court dismiss the plaintiff's complaint
for improper venue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(3) or, alternatively, to transfer the case to
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Ohio pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1404(a) or 1406(a).
issues presented in the defendants' motions are now fully
briefed and ripe for decision. After a review of the
parties' memoranda and the applicable law, this Court
finds that the defendants' motion to dismiss for improper
venue and motion to transfer must be denied.
case arises out of Michael Parker's claim to United for
underinsured motorist benefits after he was injured in a car
wreck on March 1, 2016. The car wreck took place in Warren
Township, Jefferson County, Ohio, which is located within the
Southern District of Ohio. Mr. Parker was driving the vehicle
within the course and scope of his employment with Rare
Properties, Inc., and the vehicle was also owned by Rare
Properties, Inc. Thus, Mr. Parker was covered by Rare
Properties' insurance policy on the vehicle, which was
issued by United, an affiliate of Progressive. After Mr.
Parker reached a settlement with the tortfeasor, United
refused to pay Mr. Parker's subsequent claim for
underinsured motorist benefits. The plaintiffs are residents
of Belmont County, Ohio, and both defendants are Ohio
corporations that are licensed to conduct business in West
Virginia. Rare Properties, Inc. is a West Virginia
of the complaint alleges that underinsured motorist benefits
are due and owing under the United policy and that
United's failure to pay constitutes a breach of contract.
Count II alleges that Progressive is guilty of common law and
statutory bad faith in its handling of the claim.
jurisdiction of a civil action is based solely on diversity
of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1391 provides that the
action may be brought (1) where any defendant resides if all
defendants reside in the same state, (2) where a substantial
part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim
occurred, or (3) where any defendant is subject to personal
jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced, “if
there is no district in which the action may otherwise be
brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). A defendant that is
a corporation is deemed to reside in any judicial district in
which it is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the
action is commenced.
survive a motion to dismiss for improper venue when no
evidentiary hearing is held, the plaintiff need only make a
prima facie showing of venue.” Mitrano v.
Hawes, 377 F.3d 402, 405 (4th Cir. 2004). Of course,
venue may be proper in multiple districts. However, in
determining whether events or omissions are sufficiently
substantial to support venue, a court should not focus only
on those matters that are in dispute or that directly led to
the filing of the action, but should review the entire
sequence of events underlying the claim. Id.
motion to transfer a case to another venue is subject to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1404(a), “a district court may transfer any
civil action to any other district or division where it might
have been brought” where such transfer is made
“[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the
interest of justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). This
rule is intended to allow a court to transfer venue in order
to “make trial of a case easy, expeditious and
inexpensive.” Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330
U.S. 501, 508 (1947)(superceded by statute on other grounds).
decision to transfer venue is left to the sound discretion of
the trial court. Southern Ry. Co. v. Madden, 235
F.2d 198, 201(4th Cir. 1956). In ...