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Matirne v. Advancial Federal Credit Union No. 6

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

February 21, 2018

KATHY MATIRNE
v.
ADVANCIAL FEDERAL CREDIT UNION NO. 6

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          PATRICK J. HANNA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Currently pending is the motion to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which was filed on behalf of the defendant, Advancial Federal Credit Union. (Rec. Doc. 8). The motion is opposed. For the reasons set forth below, it is ordered that the motion be granted.

         Background

         The plaintiff, Kathy Matirne, claims that she should have received overtime pay when she worked as a business relations officer for the defendant, Advancial Federal Credit Union, for nine years preceding December 5, 2016. In her complaint, she asserted a Fair Labor Standards Act claim against her former employer, and brought her complaint not only on her own behalf but also on behalf of all other similarly-situated employees, expressly including but not limited to other persons who worked for Advancial as business relations officers after June 14, 2014.

         Advancial now seeks to have this lawsuit transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, arguing that transfer is appropriate for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice and that the suit could have been brought originally in the proposed transferee forum.

         Law and Analysis

         I. The Standard for Change of Venue under Section 1404(a)

         It is well settled that the decision to transfer a case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) is a matter within the trial court's discretion.[1] Section 1404(a) reads as follows: “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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” Therefore, the preliminary question in a Section 1404(a) analysis is whether the action “might have been brought” in the destination venue.[2]

         Advancial does not dispute that venue is proper in the Western District of Louisiana; however, Advancial seeks to have the action transferred to the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, where venue is also proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2), arguing that the destination venue would be more convenient. The plaintiff does not dispute that venue is proper in the Northern District of Texas but argues that the case should remain in the Western District of Louisiana where the lawsuit was filed, downplaying the defendant's concerns regarding the relative convenience of the two forums without arguing that the Western District of Louisiana is a more convenient forum for anyone other than the current plaintiff. Having established that the plaintiff could have filed this suit in the proposed alternative venue, the court must now evaluate whether a transfer is warranted “for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.” The moving party bears the burden of proving that a change of venue is warranted.[3] A defendant moving for a venue transfer under Section 1404(a) must show good cause for the transfer.[4] To do so, the moving party must demonstrate that the action could have been brought in the destination venue and also clearly demonstrate that a transfer is for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.[5] “Thus, when the transferee venue is not clearly more convenient than the venue chosen by the plaintiff, the plaintiff's choice should be respected. When the movant demonstrates that the transferee venue is clearly more convenient, however, it has shown good cause and the district court should therefore grant the transfer.”[6]

         While the plaintiff's choice of venue is accorded some deference, [7] the plaintiff's choice of venue is not treated as a distinct factor in the Section 1404(a) analysis.[8]Instead, the plaintiff's venue choice corresponds to the burden that the moving party must meet in order to demonstrate that the transferee venue is clearly more convenient.[9]

         The Fifth Circuit adopted the private interest factors and public interest factors set forth in Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501 (1947) (“the Gilbert factors”), for determining whether a Section 1404(a) venue transfer is for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] These factors are neither exhaustive nor exclusive and no one of them is dispositive.[13]

         II. Application of the Legal Standard in This Action

         Since it is undisputed that venue would be proper in either the Western District of Louisiana or the Northern District of Texas, the only issue before this Court is whether a transfer is “for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.” Accordingly, each of the Gilbert factors will be analyzed.

         A. The Private Interest Factors

         1. The Relative Ease of Access to Sources of Proof

         This factor examines the location of documents and physical evidence.[14]Advancial conceded that this factor is likely neutral since the relevant payroll records are stored electronically and may be accessed as easily from Texas as from Louisiana. The plaintiff did not disagree.

         2. The Availability of Compulsory Process to Secure the ...


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