United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
MICHAEL BRANDNER, JR.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO., ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion to Transfer (Doc.
31) filed by Defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Co. ("State Farm"), seeking to transfer
this action to the Eastern District of Louisiana. Plaintiff,
Michael Brandner, Jr., opposes the motion (Doc. 51). Oral
argument is not necessary. For the following reasons, the
Motion to Transfer is GRANTED.
and his two daughters, all residents of Jefferson Parish,
Louisiana, were involved in a vehicular accident in Jefferson
Parish. (Doc. 1-4 at ¶ 3; Doc. 31-1 at p. 2). Defendant,
Mirna Velasquez, a resident of Orleans Parish (Doc. 27 at pp.
2-3), allegedly struck the rear of Plaintiff s vehicle while
it was at a complete stop. (Doc. 1-4 at ¶¶ 5-7).
Plaintiff brought negligence claims in the 19th
Judicial District Court, Parish of East Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, (Id. at p. 1), which Defendants removed
to the Middle District of Louisiana, (Doc. 1). Defendants
subsequently filed this motion to transfer the case to the
to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), "[f]or 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." First, the
district court must determine "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.'" In
re Horseshoe Entm't, 337 F.3d 429, 433 (5th Cir.
2003) (per curiam). Second, the district court must determine
whether transfer is warranted "[f]or the convenience of
parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice." 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a).
district court has "broad discretion in deciding whether
to order a transfer." In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc.
(Volkswagen II), 545 F.3d 304, 311 (5th Cir. 2008) (en
banc) (quoting Balawajder v. Scott, 160 F.3d 1066,
1067 (5th Cir. 1998)). In seeking to change venue, the movant
must show "good cause" for the transfer by
establishing that the transferee "venue is clearly more
convenient than the venue chosen by the plaintiff."
Id. at 315. "The 'good cause1 burden
reflects the appropriate deference to which the plaintiffs
choice of venue is entitled." Id. To make this
determination, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit requires consideration of several private and
public interests factors. Id. "The private
interest factors are: '(1) the relative ease of access to
sources of proof; (2) the availability of compulsory process
to secure the attendance of witnesses; (3) the cost of
attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all other practical
problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and
inexpensive.'" Id. (quoting In re
Volkswagen AG (Volkswagen I), 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th
Cir. 2004)). "The public interest factors are: '(1)
the administrative difficulties flowing from court
congestion; (2) the local interest in having localized
interests decided at home; (3) the familiarity of the forum
with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the avoidance
of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws [or in] the
application of foreign law.'" Id. (quoting
Volkswagen I, 371 F.3d at 203). These factors are
"not necessarily exhaustive or exclusive" and
"none ... can be said to be of dispositive weight."
Id. (citing Action Indus., Inc. v. U.S. Fid.
& Guar. Corp., 358 F.3d 337, 340 (5th Cir. 2004)).
Initial Determination As an initial matter, the Court must
determine whether the Eastern District is a venue where the
action could have been brought initially. See 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a). Section 1391(b)(2) provides that
"[a] civil action may be brought ... in a judicial
district in which a substantial part of the events or
omissions giving rise to the claim occurred." All events
giving rise to this negligence action occurred in the Eastern
District of Louisiana; therefore, the Court will proceed to
the next step and determine whether the proposed forum is
"clearly more convenient." See Volkswagen
II, 545 F.3d at 315.
Private Interest Factors
Ease of access to sources of proof
first private interest factor, ease of access to sources of
proof weighs in favor of transfer. The accident site and the
physical evidence relating to the accident are in the Eastern
District. See Rivers v. Union Pac. R.R., No.
16-CV-673, 2017 WL 379447, at *2 (M.D. La. Jan. 26, 2017)
(Brady, J.). Although Plaintiff argues that two Defendants,
Nautilus and State Farm, have their principal place of
business in the Middle District, (Doc. 51 at p. 3), it
appears that this statement is incorrect. Both Nautilus and
State Farm are out-of-state defendants, and only maintain
their designated agents for service of process in Baton
Rouge, pursuant to Louisiana law. (See Doc. 1-4 at ¶ 1).
Ability to secure the attendance of witnesses
the Middle District and Eastern District wield equal subpoena
power; therefore, this factor is neutral. See Volkswagen
I, 371 F.3d at 205 n.4; Util. Constructors, Inc. v.
Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., No. 15-CV-501, ...