United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ALISTAIR E. NEWBERN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Honorable Eli J. Richardson, District Judge
Freedom of Information Act case is referred to the Magistrate
Judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) to dispose
or recommend disposition of pretrial motions. (Doc. No. 5.)
Now before the Court is Defendant Rebecca N. Bartlett's
motion to transfer venue to the Eastern District of Tennessee
or, alternatively, for an extension of time to respond to pro
se Plaintiff Edna Bright's complaint. (Doc. No. 16.) For
the following reasons, the Magistrate Judge will RECOMMEND
that Bartlett's motion be GRANTED and that this action be
TRANSFERRED to the Eastern District of Tennessee under 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a).
Factual and Procedural Background
filed this action on August 8, 2018, under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) against Bartlett, who is the Clerk and
Master for Lincoln County, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1.) In a
one-page complaint, Bright alleges that Bartlett has refused
to provide transcripts or the record from unspecified court
hearings and appears to seek an order requiring their
production. (Id.) Bartlett filed the pending motion
for transfer of venue to the Eastern District of Tennessee
or, alternatively, for an extension of time to respond to
Bright's complaint on March 22, 2019. (Doc. No. 16.)
Bartlett argues that venue is not proper in the Middle
District of Tennessee because Bright resides in the Eastern
District of Tennessee and the relevant records she seeks are
located there. (Id.) Bright responded to the motion
in the form of a letter addressed to the Court in which she
states that Bartlett's attorney “called on March
21, 2019 asking for an extension” and that Bright
denied the request. (Doc. No. 19.) Bright did not address the
question of whether her action should be transferred.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3), a defendant may
move to dismiss or transfer a lawsuit on the basis of
improper venue. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3). In a FOIA action,
venue is proper in “the district in which the
complainant resides, or has [her] principal place of
business, or in which the agency records are situated, or in
the District of Columbia . . . .” 5 U.S.C. §
552(a)(4)(B). When a court finds that venue is improper, it
may, under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), “dismiss, or if it
be in the interest of justice, transfer [the] case to any
district or division in which it could have been
brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). It is Bright's
burden to establish that venue is proper and the Court
“must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve
factual conflicts in favor of [Bright].” Receiver
of Assets of Mid-Am. Energy, Inc. v. Coffman, 719
F.Supp.2d 884, 891 (M.D. Tenn. 2010) (quoting Gone to the
Beach, LLC v. Choicepoint Servs., Inc., 434 F.Supp.2d
534, 536-37 (W.D. Tenn. 2006)). The Court may look outside
the complaint in its venue analysis. Id.
Middle District of Tennessee is not the proper venue for this
FOIA action. Bright resides in Fayetteville, Tennessee, which
is located in Lincoln County. Lincoln County is within the
Eastern District of Tennessee. Further, Bartlett, who is the
Clerk and Master for Lincoln County, claims that the records
that Bright seeks in this action are located there. (Doc. No.
16-1, PageID# 39.) In responding to Bartlett's motion,
Bright states only that she opposes Bartlett's request
for additional time to respond to the complaint; she does not
argue that the relevant records can be found in the Middle
District of Tennessee, that she has a principal place of
business here, or that venue is otherwise proper in this
Court. Bright has therefore failed to meet her burden to
establish proper venue. The action should be transferred to
the Eastern District of Tennessee, where both parties reside
and where the records at issue are located.
Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that Bartlett's motion to
transfer venue (Doc. No. 16) be GRANTED and that this action
be TRANSFERRED to the Eastern District of Tennessee under 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a).
party has fourteen days after being served with this report
and recommendation to file specific written objections.
Failure to file specific objections within fourteen days of
receipt of this report and recommendation can constitute a
waiver of appeal of the matters decided. Thomas v.
Arn,474 U.S. 140, 155 (1985); Cowherd v.
Million,380 F.3d 909, 912 (6th Cir. 2004). A party who
opposes any objections that ...