United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
M. AFRICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is defendant Sea Fox Boat Company, Inc.'s
(“Sea Fox”) motion to transfer the above-captioned
consolidated matters to the United States District Court for
the Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the following
reasons, the motion is granted.
case arises out of a tragic boating accident that occurred on
July 29, 2018.According to the complaints, a vessel
designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold by Sea Fox
exploded on the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles, Louisiana,
causing severe injuries to plaintiffs Hugo Gonzalez, Galloway
Outlaw-Knight, and Jeremy Eades, all of whom were aboard the
vessel at the time of the explosion. The plaintiffs individually
filed lawsuits against Sea Fox, and the matters were
eventually consolidated before this Court. Each plaintiff
has since filed an amended complaint naming Yamaha Motor
Corporation, U.S.A. (“Yamaha”) as an additional
defendant.The plaintiffs allege that Yamaha designed,
manufactured, marketed, and sold a filter that was installed
on the subject boat.
filed a counterclaim against the plaintiffs, alleging that
the explosion was a result of their own
negligence. Additionally, Sea Fox filed a third-party
complaint against the alleged owners of the boat, Daniel and
Francene Henderson (the “Hendersons”), alleging
that the explosion was also a result of the Henderons's
negligence in maintaining the boat.
moves the Court to transfer these consolidated cases to the
Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which provides:
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
moving party has the burden of showing “good
cause” for a transfer by “clearly demonstrat[ing]
that a transfer is ‘[f]or the convenience of parties
and witnesses, in the interest of justice.'” In
re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir.
2008) [hereinafter Volkswagen II] (quoting §
1404(a)). If the transferee court is not clearly more
convenient, then the court deciding whether to transfer
should respect the plaintiff's choice of venue.
Id.; see also In re Horseshoe Entm't,
337 F.3d 429, 434 (5th Cir. 2003) (“[I]t is clear under
Fifth Circuit precedent that the plaintiff's choice of
forum is clearly a factor to be considered but in and of
itself it is neither conclusive nor determinative.”).
“The district court has broad discretion in deciding
whether to order a transfer.” Balawajder v.
Scott, 160 F.3d 1066, 1067 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting
Caldwell v. Palmetto State Sav. Bank, 811 F.2d 916,
919 (5th Cir. 1987)).
determine whether a transfer is warranted, courts consider
several private and public interest factors:
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.” . . . 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
Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315 (citations omitted).
The foregoing list is not exhaustive, and no one factor is
threshold matter, the plaintiffs do not dispute that these
cases could have been filed in the Western District of
Louisiana. The Lake Charles Division is an appropriate venue
because the boat accident that forms the basis of the actions
occurred within the Western District of Louisiana.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
the Court must decide whether Sea Fox has established good
cause for its requested transfer, and it must determine
whether the Western District of Louisiana is clearly a more
convenient forum. The Court will weigh the private and public
interest factors separately.
balance, the Court concludes that the private interest
factors weigh in favor of granting Sea Fox's motion.
ease of access to sources
consider the distance between the current location of the
evidence and the trial venue in ascertaining the relative
ease of access to sources of proof.” SP Plus Corp.
v. IPT, LLC, No. 16-2474, 2016 WL 9280320, at *7 (E.D.
La. Dec. 12, 2016) (Feldman, J.). Although “electronic
discovery renders discovery of the documents at either venue
a less cumbersome task than in yesteryear, this factor still
bears on the analysis.” Id. (citing
Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315).
argues that this factor weighs in favor of transferring the
cases: immediately following the accident, the plaintiffs
were treated at a hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana, which is
closer to Lake Charles than New Orleans; the accident was
investigated by Lake Charles authorities; and it appears that
the eyewitnesses to the accident all live in or near Lake
Charles. Therefore, accident ...