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Casanola v. Delta Machine & Ironworks, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 10, 2019

SERGIO CASANOLA, Plaintiff
v.
DELTA MACHINE & IRONWORKS LLC, ET AL., Defendants

         SECTION: “E” (5)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SUSIE MORGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a motion to dismiss, filed by Defendant Delta Machine & Ironworks LLC (“Delta”) pursuant to Rules 12(b)(3) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and a motion to transfer venue, filed by pro se Plaintiff Sergio Casanola under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).[1] Casanola opposes Delta's motion to dismiss.[2] For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES WITH PREJUDICE the portion of Defendant's motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(3) and DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE the portion of Defendant's motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6). The Court construes Plaintiff's motion to transfer venue as a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and GRANTS the motion. The Court orders that the above-captioned case is TRANSFERRED to the MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA.

         BACKGROUND

         Delta is a steel fabrication company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[3] Plaintiff Sergio Casanola worked at Delta from October 12, 2015 to March 9, 2016, when he was terminated.[4] He brings this suit against Delta under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), [5] alleging Delta discriminated against him on the basis of race and national origin.[6]

         On March 20, 2019, Delta filed the instant motion to dismiss.[7] It argues the Court should dismiss this case for improper venue under Rule 12(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because the Eastern District of Louisiana is an improper venue for this action.[8] It also argues the Court should dismiss this case under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.[9] Casanola opposes.[10] Casanola also files a motion to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).[11]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. The Court denies Delta's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(3).

         “Title VII contains a specific venue provision that displaces the general venue provision set out in 28 U.S.C. § 1391.”[12] The Title VII venue provision provides:

[A]n action [under Title VII] may be brought in any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, in the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered, or in the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, but if the respondent is not found within any such district, such an action may be brought within the judicial district in which the respondent has his principal office. For purposes of sections 1404 and 1406 of Title 28, the judicial district in which the respondent has his principal office shall in all cases be considered a district in which the action might have been brought.[13]

         In this case, the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have occurred in Louisiana.[14]

         Because venue is proper in “any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, ”[15] venue in this case is proper in the Eastern District of Louisiana. As a result, the Court denies Delta's motion to dismiss for improper venue under Rule 12(b)(3).

         II. The Court construes Casanola's motion to transfer venue as a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

         The Court turns to Casanola's motion to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).[16] 28 U.S.C. §§ 1404(a) and 1406(a) apply to Title VII claims.[17] Section 1406(a) provides for dismissal or transfer for cases “laying venue in the wrong division or district.”[18] Casanola moves for transfer under § 1406(a).[19] Because venue was not improper in this case, § 1406(a) does not apply.[20]

         28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides that, even in cases in which venue was proper, “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.”[21] “[T]he purpose of the section is to prevent the waste ‘of time, energy and money' and ‘to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.'”[22] The party seeking transfer “must show good cause. . . . [T]o show good cause means that a moving party, in order to support its claim for a transfer, must satisfy the statutory requirements and clearly demonstrate that a transfer is for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.”[23] The Court construes Casanola's motion to transfer venue as a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

         III. The Court transfers venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

         Courts applying § 1404(a) first determine “whether the judicial district to which transfer is sought would have been a district in which the claim could have been filed.”[24]The Supreme Court has held this refers to federal laws concerning venue and jurisdiction, not to “laws of the transferee State concerning the capacity of [the plaintiffs] to bring suit.”[25] The court then considers a “number of private and public interest factors, ” none of which is given dispositive weight, to determine whether transfer serves the convenience of the parties and witnesses.[26]

         A. This suit could have been filed in the Middle District of Louisiana.

         This suit could have been brought in the Middle District of Louisiana. A corporation, including a limited liability company like Delta, is subject to general personal jurisdiction in its “place of incorporation and principal place of business.”[27] Delta is a Louisiana limited liability company with its principal place of business in Louisiana.[28]The United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has personal jurisdiction over Delta. Venue is proper in the Middle District of Louisiana because, under the Title VII venue provision, the District is a “judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed.”[29] Moreover, Delta represents[30] the Middle District is also “the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered.”[31]

         B. Transfer serves the convenience of the parties and witnesses.

         28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) requires district courts to consider “the convenience of the parties and witnesses” in deciding whether to transfer venue.[32] In re Volkswagen AG enumerates several “private and public interest factors, none of which are given dispositive weight.”[33] As private factors, the Fifth Circuit listed:

(1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof;
(2) the availability of compulsory process to secure the ...

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