The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier
Before the Court is Plaintiff Natalie Jean (Jones) Roberson ("Plaintiff") and Defendants Prudential Insurance Company of America and Washington Group International, Inc.'s joint motion for transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), requesting the Court to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas at Little Rock (Court File No. 6). As cause, the parties argue Defendant Estate of John Carlton Jones, Jr. is a resident of Arkansas but would likely not be subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court. The parties also agree the Eastern District of Arkansas at Little Rock will be a more convenient forum with regard to the availability of the parties, witnesses, and documentary evidence.
This Court has broad discretion in considering a motion to transfer under § 1404(a). Phelps v. McClellan, 30 F.3d 658, 663 (6th Cir. 1994). Under Title 28, United States Code Section 1404(a), the Court may, for the convenience of parties and witnesses, and in the interest of justice, transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought. This analysis requires a two-step process. Wood v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., No. 3:05-0716, 2005 WL 3050642, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. November 10, 2005). First, the Court must determine whether the action is one which could have been brought initially in the proposed transferee district. Id. Second, the Court must examine whether the balance of interests favors transfer to the alternative forum. Id. When considering a motion to transfer, the Court "should consider the private interests of the parties, including their convenience and the convenience of potential witnesses, as well as other public-interest concerns, such as systemic integrity and fairness, which come under the rubric of 'interests of justice.'" Moses v. Business Card Exp., Inc., 929 F.2d 1131, 1137 (6th Cir. 1991).
This suit involves an employee benefit plan subject to the Employee Retirement Income Act ("ERISA").*fn1 In ERISA cases, venue is proper "in the district where the plan is administered, where the breach took place, or where a defendant resides or may be found." Defendant Estate of John Carlton Jones, Jr. is a resident of Arkansas. The remaining defendants in this action, Prudential Insurance Company of America and Washington Group International, Inc., consent to jurisdiction for this matter in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas at Little Rock. Furthermore, both Plaintiff and Defendants agree the Eastern District of Arkansas will be a more convenient forum with regard to the availability of the parties, witnesses, and documentary evidence. Therefore, the Court finds a transfer pursuant to § 1404 is warranted. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the joint motion for transfer (Court File No. 6) and ORDERS venue in this matter be transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas at Little Rock.
CURTIS L. COLLIER CHIEF UNITED STATES ...