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Miller v. Seneca Specialty Insurance Co., Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

September 18, 2018

DAVID MILLER D/B/A WORLD FAMOUS LIBBY'S PLAINTIFFS
v.
SENECA SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. A/K/A SENECA INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court upon a motion to dismiss this action, or in the alternative, to transfer this action to the Bowling Green Division of the Western District of Kentucky by Defendant Seneca Specialty Insurance Company, Inc. ("Seneca"). [DN 5]. Plaintiff David Miller has responded, [DN 8], and Seneca has replied [DN 9]. Fully briefed, Defendant's motion is ripe for review, and for the following reasons, it is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 10, 2013, a fire damaged Plaintiffs commercial building in Elkton, Kentucky and damaged Plaintiffs personal property located on the premises as well. [DN 1 at 2]. Defendant insured Plaintiffs business. [Id] In his complaint, Plaintiff claims that he submitted a valuation report to Defendant as proof of loss but that Defendant has failed to pay under the terms of the insurance policy and that Defendant has been unwilling to negotiate under the terms of the contract. [Id.At3].

         Plaintiff filed this action in the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) and Local Rule of Civil Practice 3.2, Defendant claims that venue is improper in the Paducah Division of the Western District of Kentucky and seeks to dismiss this action, or in the alternative, transfer this action to the Bowling Green Division of the Western District of Kentucky. [DN 5].

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal law 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). "The district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Even if venue is proper, however, "[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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "Once challenged, Plaintiff bears the burden of showing that its initial choice of venue is proper." Sechel Holdings, Inc. v. Clapp, No. 3:12-CV-00108-H, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108298, 2012 WL 3150087, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 2, 2012) (Heyburn, J.) (citing Crutchfield v. Santos, No. 5:07-CV-94-R, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86558, 2007 WL 4124713, at *1 (W.D. Ky. Nov. 19, 2007) (Russell, J.)). "The Court may examine facts outside the complaint but must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve factual conflicts in favor of the plaintiff." NHCLC-Seattle, LLC v. Kauffman, No. 13-12804, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174421, 2013 WL 6474197, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 10, 2013) (quoting Audi AG & Volkswagen of Am., Inc. v. Izumi, 204 F.Supp.2d 1014, 1017 (E.D. Mich. 2002)).

         There is no statutory requirement that venue in federal civil cases be laid in a particular division within a district. In re Gibson, 423 Fed.Appx. 385, 388 (5th Cir. 2011). Both the Western and Eastern Districts of Kentucky, however, have adopted Joint and Local Rules of Civil Practice which contain standardized procedures for the assignment and transfer of civil actions filed within the district. The local rules "must be construed ... to secure the just, efficient and economical determination of civil actions." Local Rule 1.1. Local Rule 3.2(f) addresses the transfer of venue, it provides:

Any civil action or proceeding may, in the discretion of the Court, be transferred from the jury division in which it is pending to any other division for the convenience of the Court, parties, witness, or in the interest of justice.

LR 3.2(f).

         The standards of the general venue transfer statutes-28 U.S.C. § 1404 and § 1406-apply to motions to transfer under the local rules, including motions for intra-district transfers. See Monroe v. Walmart Stores Texas, LLC, 2012 WL 3887006, *4 (E.D. Tex. 2012). Where venue is proper in the district where the action is pending, 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) provides that for "the convenience of the 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." In deciding whether to transfer a case § 1404(a) requires a two-part analysis. The Court must first determine if the action could have originally been filed in the transferee district. Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964). If so, the Court must then determine "whether, on balance, a transfer would serve 'the convenience of the parties and witnesses' and otherwise promote 'the interest of justice.'" Atl. Marine. Constr. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for the W. Dist. of Tex., 134 S.Ct. 568, 581 (2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)).

         The second step in the Court's analysis requires it to evaluate various private and public-interest factors, typically "giv[ing] some weight to the [plaintiffs] choice of forum." Id. Factors relevant to the parties' private interests include (1) the convenience of the parties, (2) the convenience of the witnesses, (3) the accessibility of relevant evidence, (4) the availability of compulsory process to make reluctant witnesses testify, (5) the cost of obtaining willing witnesses' testimony, and (6) any other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. Reese v. CNH Am. LLC, 574 F.3d 315, 320 (6th Cir. 2009); see also Atl. Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 581 n.6. Relevant public-interest factors include (1) administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion, (2) the local interest in deciding the controversy at home, and (3) in a diversity case, the interest of having the trial in a forum familiar with governing law. Atl. Marine, 134 S.Ct. at 581 n.6. While this list of factors is non-exhaustive, it is illustrative of the issues typically considered by the courts of this Circuit. "As the permissive language of the transfer statute suggests, district courts have 'broad discretion' to determine when party 'convenience' or 'the interest of justice' make a transfer appropriate." Reese, 574 F.3d at 320. The movant bears the burden of showing that transfer is appropriate. Boiler Specialists, LLC v. Corrosion Monitoring Servs., Inc., No. 1:12-CV-47, 2012 WL 3060385, at *2 (W.D. Ky. July 26, 2012) (collecting cases).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Venue in the Western District of Kentucky is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial part of the events giving rise to this claim occurred in Todd County, Kentucky. In fact, both parties agree that the events giving rise to this claim occurred in the Western District of Kentucky [DN 5 at 2; DN 8 at 1-2]. Because venue is proper in the ...


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