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Sherrell v. FTS International, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

July 15, 2019

CARL L. SHERRELL, Plaintiff,
v.
FTS INTERNATIONAL, INC. and FTS INTERNATIONAL SERVICES, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY, JUDGE

         Currently pending before this Court is the Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue [Doc. 6], filed May 29, 2019. This Court has reviewed the above and is of the opinion that this matter shall more appropriately be adjudicated in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Accordingly, the Motion is hereby DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 19, 2019, the plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court of Wetzel County, West Virginia [Doc. 1]. On May 22, 2019, the defendants removed the above-styled action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia based upon diversity jurisdiction [id.]. On May 29, 2019, defendants filed the instant Motion to Transfer Venue [Doc. 6], asking this Court to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. In support of their motion, defendants argue that venue is proper in the Western District of Pennsylvania and that the interests of convenience and fairness weigh in favor of transfer.

         On June 11, 2019, the plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition [Doc. 7] to the requested transfer. First, the plaintiff argues that defendants have failed to recognize the significant deference that is to be accorded a plaintiff's choice of forum. Second, the plaintiff asserts that the convenience of trying this case in the Western District of Pennsylvania does not outweigh that of allowing the matter to remain in the Northern District of West Virginia. Finally, the plaintiff contends that the interests of justice support keeping this case in its present forum.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Applicable Standard

         When a defendant objects to venue under Rule 12(b)(3), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that venue is proper. See Plant Genetic Sys., N.V. v. Ciba Seeds, Mycogen Plant Sci., Inc., 933 F.Supp. 519, 526 (M.D. N.C. 1996) (citing Bartholomew v. Va. Chiropractors Ass'n, Inc., 612 F.2d 812, 816 (4th Cir. 1979)). Title 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) permits this Court to transfer a civil action to any other district where such action may have been brought “[f]or the convenience of the parties, in the interest of justice . . ..” Thus, the threshold question of a section 1404(a) analysis is whether the judicial district to which transfer is sought qualifies under the applicable venue statutes as a judicial district where the civil action “might have been brought.” If the Court answers this initial question in the affirmative, the Court must make an “individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.” Toney v. Family Dollar Store, Inc., 273 F.Supp.2d 757, 763 (S.D. W.Va. 2003) (quoting Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988)). In so doing, this Court has broad discretion. Nichols v. G.D. Searle & Co., 991 F.2d 1195 (4th Cir. 1993).

         It is clear from the pleadings that a substantial portion of the alleged events giving rise to the instant action occurred in Pennsylvania, and the defendants do not contest personal jurisdiction in this case. Accordingly, this Court has answered the initial question, whether both judicial districts are ones in which this civil action might have been brought, in the affirmative.

         Having overcome the initial threshold discussed above, in which this Court has determined either of the proposed venues to be proper, this Court must now embark on its consideration of the following factors, which, in this Court's discretion, will help guide it to the more proper venue. Some of the factors which this Court may consider include: (1) ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the convenience of parties and witnesses; (3) the cost of attendance for witnesses; (4) the availability of compulsory process; (5) the interest in having localized interests decided at home; and (6) the interests of justice. Toney v. Family Dollar Store, 273 F.Supp.2d at 763.

         Further, this Court must consider the plaintiff's choice of forum. “Unless the balancing of these factors weighs strongly in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum generally should not be disturbed.” Casana Furniture Co., Ltd. v. Coaster Co. of America, 2009 WL 783399, *3, *4 (M.D. N.C. Mar. 24, 2009)(Osteen, J.), Brown v. Flowers, 297 F.Supp.2d 846, 850 (M.D. N.C. 2003); Collins v. Straight, Inc., 748 F.2d 916, 921 (4th Cir. 1984). Moreover, “[w]hile a district court has discretion to transfer the action to a more appropriate venue, a court should not transfer venue where doing so would only shift the inconvenience to another party.” Casana, 2009 WL 783399, at *4-5.

         II. Analysis

         A. The Ease of Access to Sources of Proof

          In this case, sources of proof for the plaintiff's claims will potentially consist of witness testimony and documentary evidence. For the reasons that follow, this Court finds that the Western District of ...


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