United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
MONICA JANE RICHARD and JOHN D. RICHARD,
INLAND DREDGING CO. LLC
PATRICK J. HANNA, Magistrate Judge.
Currently pending before the undersigned, on referral from the district judge for ruling, is the defendant's motion to transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). [Rec. Doc. 13]. The plaintiffs oppose the motion. The undersigned heard oral arguments on the motion on July 27, 2015. After considering the applicable law, the written submissions and arguments of the parties, and for the following reasons, the motion is denied.
Factual and Procedural Background:
Plaintiff John Richard began working for Inland Dredging Company in July 2012. In this litigation, he has alleged that he was injured on or about March 25, 2014, while performing his duties as a seaman aboard a crane barge assigned to the Dredge "Kelly L, " which is owned and operated by Inland Dredging Company. [Rec. Doc. 1, ¶8]. The incident occurred in Franklin County, Florida. Mr. Richard's claims are based on the Jones Act and the general maritime law under the savings to suitors clause. His complaint contains no representations or assertions regarding personal jurisdiction or venue in this court, however, neither is challenged by the defendant.
The plaintiffs are residents of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, which is within the Western District. Inland Dredging Company [hereinafter "Inland"] represents that it is in the business of dredging bodies of water on the inland coastal waterways of the United States, including the waterways of Florida and Mississippi. Inland identifies itself as a Tennessee limited liability company with its principal place of business in Dyersburg, Tennessee. The company has registered agents for service of process in Mississippi and Florida, doing business in those states. It has no office or facility in Louisiana; it does, however, have a registered agent for service of process in Louisiana.
In its motion, Inland represents that it would be inconvenient and burdensome for it to defend this lawsuit in the Western District of Louisiana. According to Inland, none of the witnesses to the subject accident are located in Louisiana, and only two medical providers who have treated the plaintiff since the accident are located in Louisiana. Inland asserts that, considering the locations of the witnesses expected to testify at the trial of this matter, there are two other venues that would be more convenient to the parties and witnesses and would better serve the interest of justice. Those locations are the Northern District of Florida at Tallahassee and the Southern District of Mississippi at Jackson, where Inland does business and has agreed and consented that personal jurisdiction and venue are proper.
According to Inland, the following individuals may have knowledge about the incident or Mr. Richard's condition after the incident. They were identified by the plaintiff on the company incident report. The listed witnesses either worked near Mr. Richard when the accident occurred, actually witnessed the accident, or received Mr. Richard's report of the accident. Only two remain in the employ of Inland.
Warren Holton - Edna, Texas
Michael Gann - Grenada, Mississippi
Jim Cone-Crossett - Arkansas
Earnest Carpenter - Boligee, Alabama
Stacy McCullough - Bascom, Florida
Tim Walker - Mobile, Alabama
Jack Simmons - Wiggins, Mississippi
Tim Dyer - Edgewater, Florida
Inland has also listed the following healthcare providers who have treated Mr. Richard for his accident-related injuries:
Bay Walk-In Clinic - Panama ...