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Maples v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 16, 2018

JACOB ANTHONY MAPLES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), requesting the Court to transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. (Doc. No. 12). For the reasons provided below, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion.

         I. FACTS

         Plaintiff Jacob Maples, a resident of Dickson, Tennessee, sued Defendant United States of America under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 1, 2). Plaintiff alleges that he was employed as a field technician by Southwest Electric Company (“SWE”), a sub-contractor of Government Contracting Resources (“GCR”), and that GCR contracted with Defendant to provide facility maintenance services at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (“Cherry Point”) in Havelock, North Carolina. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 7-9). According to the Complaint, GCR subcontracted with SWE to perform repairs and maintenance on a transformer at Cherry Point in January 2015, and SWE assigned Plaintiff to perform that work. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 10, 12). Plaintiff alleges that on February 26, 2015, his left thigh, right knee, and right hand suffered severe burns while working at Cherry Point when a military utility worker energized the transformer Plaintiff was cleaning. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 13, 14). Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence, as well as negligent supervision and control. (Doc. No. 1).

         II. MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE

         Defendant argues that this case should be transferred to the Eastern District of North Carolina pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) because “the operative acts at issue occurred in the Eastern District of North Carolina, ” because “all other relevant fact witnesses” besides the Plaintiff reside or work outside the Middle District of Tennessee “beyond this Court's subpoena power, ” and because “the Court will have to apply North Carolina law.” (Doc. No. 14).

         In opposition, Plaintiff argues that venue is proper in this Court and that Defendant failed to establish that transfer is more convenient for the parties and is in the interest of justice. (Doc. No. 16). Specifically, Plaintiff asserts: (1) he is a resident of Tennessee and suffers from a physical disability that would make travel to North Carolina difficult; (2) the majority of non-party witnesses reside in Tennessee; and (3) transfer of the case would impose an additional financial burden on Plaintiff that Defendant will not incur because it is the United States and has attorneys in both districts. (Id.).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Based on the parties' filings, venue is proper in this District under 28 U.S.C. § 1402. Accordingly, the issue before the Court is whether, weighing certain factors, the Court should exercise its discretion and transfer this action to another venue. The Court's analysis centers on 28 U.S.C. § 1404, which states: “For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought.” District courts have broad discretion to determine whether transfer is appropriate. Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 32 (1955); Reese v. CNH Am. LLC, 574 F.3d 315, 320 (6th Cir. 2009). To resolve a motion to transfer venue, a court considers:

the plaintiff's choice of forum, the convenience of the witnesses and the residence of the parties, the location of sources of proof, including the availability of compulsory process to insure witness attendance, the location of the events giving rise to the dispute, any obstacles to a fair trial, the advantage of having the dispute adjudicated by a local court, and all other considerations of a practical nature that make a trial easy, expeditious, and economical.

LP Envtl., LLC v. Delfasco, LLC, 2015 WL 13145788, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 25, 2015); Nollner v. S. Baptist Convention, Inc., 2014 WL 3749522, at *7 (M.D. Tenn. July 30, 2014).

         The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that these factors weigh strongly in favor of transfer. Reese, 574 F.3d at 320. This burden is not satisfied if transfer merely shifts the inconvenience from one party to another. Nollner, 2014 WL 3749522 at *7. Instead, the moving party must prove that convenience and the interests of justice are served by transfer. Id. “If the court determines that the balance between the plaintiff's choice of forum and defendant's desired forum is even, the plaintiff's choice of forum should prevail.” Delfasco, 2015 WL 13145788 at *2 (quoting B.E. Tech, LLC v. Facebook, Inc., 957 F.Supp.2d 926, 931 (W.D. Tenn. 2013)) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         A. Plaintiff's Choice of Forum

         Courts afford substantial weight to a plaintiff's choice of forum. Reese, 574 F.3d at 320. This factor weighs strongly in favor of honoring the plaintiff's choice of venue when, as here, no forum selection clause conflicts with the plaintiff's choice of forum, . Nollner, 2014 WL 3749522, at *7. This is especially true where the plaintiff resides in the chosen forum. Smith v. Kyphon, Inc., 578 F.Supp.2d 954, 962 (M.D. Tenn. 2008). Plaintiff resides ...


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