United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
WILLIAM QUARTARO, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF JOSEPH QUARTARO, Plaintiff,
YAMAHA MOTOR CORPORATION, U.S.A., et al., Defendants.
CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.
This case is before the court on the motion of the plaintiff, William Quartaro, executor of the Estate of Joseph Quartaro ("Plaintiff"), to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York or, in the alternative, to the Central District of California or the Northern District of Georgia. (DN 38). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion to transfer venue.
Unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are undisputed. Plaintiff was a New York resident who was allegedly injured in Mexico when the Yamaha Rhino ATV that he was driving rolled over and ejected him. Plaintiff originally filed this case in the Western District of Kentucky pursuant to Multi-District Litigation 2016, In re: Yamaha Motor Corp Rhino ATV Products Liability Litigation (hereinafter the "Rhino MDL"). A final order was issued in the Rhino MDL on January 7, 2013, and the case was thereafter reassigned to this court. (DN 17).
Plaintiff died on November 27, 2013, during the pendency of this action, and the executor of his estate was substituted as a party. (DN 35). Plaintiff now seeks to transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York or, alternatively, to the Central District of California or the Northern District of Georgia. (DN 38). Defendants Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. ("YMUS"), Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America ("YMMC"), and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. ("YMC") (collectively "Defendants") oppose the motion and ask that the matter either be heard in the Western District of Kentucky or dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds.
Section 1404(a) provides that "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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). A two-part test assists courts in determining when transfer is proper. See Rutherford v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 943 F.Supp. 789, 791 (W.D. Ky. 1996). First, the Court must determine whether the action could have been brought originally in the transferee court. Id. Second, the Court must decide whether a change of venue would serve the interests of justice and facilitate the convenience of the parties and witnesses. Id.
"[I]n ruling on a motion to transfer under § 1404(a), a district court should consider the private interests of the parties, including their convenience and the convenience of potential witnesses, as well as other public-interest concerns, such as systemic integrity and fairness, which come under the rubric of interests of justice.'" Moses v. Bus. Card Exp., Inc., 929 F.2d 1131, 1137 (6th Cir.1991). Although "district courts have broad discretion' to determine when party convenience' or the interest of justice' make a transfer appropriate, " Reese v. CNH America LLC, 574 F.3d 315, 320 (6th Cir. 2009), courts within the Sixth Circuit have identified nine factors that should be considered in making this determination. These factors include:
(1) the convenience of witnesses; (2) the location of relevant documents and relative ease of access to sources of proof; (3) the convenience of the parties; (4) the locus of the operative facts; (5) the availability of process to compel the attendance of unwilling witnesses; (6) the relative means of the parties; (7) the forum's familiarity with the governing law; (8) the weight accorded the plaintiff's choice of forum; and (9) trial efficiency and the interests of justice, based on the totality of the circumstances.
See Long John Silver's, Inc. v. Nickleson, No. 3:11-CV-93-H, 2011 WL 5025347, at *4 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 21, 2011); Cowden v. Parker & Associates, Inc., No. 5:09-CV-0323-KKC, 2010 WL 715850, at *2 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 22, 2010); Perceptron, Inc. v. Silicon Video, Inc., 423 F.Supp.2d 722, 729 (E.D. Mich. 2006).
The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that the balance of these factors weighs in favor of transfer. Adams v. Honda Motor Co., No. 3:05-CV-120-S, 2005 WL 3236780, at *1 (W.D. Ky. Nov. 21, 2005). Although "the plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be disturbed... unless the balance [of convenience] is strongly in favor of the defendant, " Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, (1947), the plaintiff's choice is by no means dispositive. Lewis v. ACB Business Services, Inc., 135 F.3d 389, 413 (6th Cir. 1998). Instead, the court's decision must be based on an "individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness" that accords every relevant factor its due consideration and appropriate weight. Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964).
This case presents unusual circumstances. Although the alleged injury occurred in Mexico, Plaintiff filed the present action in the Western District of Kentucky as part of the Rhino MDL, notwithstanding the fact that the parties do not reside in, nor did the events leading to the litigation take place in, Kentucky. Due to the paucity of connections to the Western District of Kentucky, the Court will grant the motion to transfer venue.
The Court must first determine whether the transferee courts proposed by Plaintiff are courts where this action could have originally been brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) provides that venue in ...