United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell, Senior Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Timothy
Williams’ motion to transfer venue. [DN 5.] Plaintiff
First Financial Bank (“First Financial”)
responded, [DN 14], and Defendant replied, [DN 15.] Fully
briefed, this matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the
reasons stated herein, Defendant’s motion is DENIED.
action arises out of Defendant Williams’ former
employment with First Financial. Williams was Vice President
of Mortgage Services for Heritage Bank from October 2013
until July 22, 2019. [DN 4-2 at 3.] Heritage Bank maintained
its headquarters in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and operated in
locations throughout Southwest Kentucky and Northern
Tennessee. [DN 4-2 at 32.] Heritage Bank merged into First
Financial on July 27, 2019. [Id. at 9.]
January 2017, Williams entered into an Employment Agreement
with Heritage Bank. [Id. at 3.] The employment
agreement selected Christian County Circuit Court for the
venue and Kentucky law to govern. [DN 4-3 at 5.] First
Financial alleges Williams planned secret meetings with
employees of Heritage Bank and encouraged them to remove
confidential business information. [DN 4-2 at 7-8.] Heritage
Bank terminated Williams who began working for First
Advantage. [Id. at 9.]
Financial initiated this suit against Williams on September
5, 2019 in Christian County Circuit Court. [Id. at
41.] Williams subsequently removed the case to this Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441. [DN 1.]
Williams then filed the motion to transfer venue at hand.
U.S.C. § 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.” The plain text of § 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 W. Dist. of Tex.,
134 S.Ct. 568, 581 (2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)).
“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 v. CNH Am. LLC, 574 F.3d
(6th Cir. 2009).
Court evaluates various private- and public-interest factors,
always mindful to “give some weight to the
[plaintiff’s] choice of forum.” Id.
Factors that are relevant include (1) the convenience of the
witnesses, (2) the location of relevant documents and the
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 attendance
of unwilling witnesses, (6) the relative means of the
parties, (7) a 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 upon the totality of the circumstances. McDorman v.
D&G Properties, 2018 WL 6133167 *3 (W.D. Ky. Nov.
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).
Could the Action Have Been Filed in The Middle District of
Financial asserts that this suit could not have been filed in
the Middle District of Tennessee. Plaintiff relies on the
forum selection clause within the employment agreement. The
clause unambiguously states that any suit is to be brought in
the Circuit Court of Christian County, Kentucky. However, the
Court disagrees. When determining whether an action could
have been brought in a specific forum under § 1404, the
Court only considers whether the federal venue laws are
satisfied. Atlantic Marine Const. Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dist.
Court for W. Dist. of Texas, 571 U.S. 49, 55 (2013).
Therefore, the Court will examine whether this claim meets
the requirements for § 1332 diversity jurisdiction.
Financial is a banking association with its principal place
of business in Terre Haute, Indiana. Defendant is domiciled
in Clarksville, Tennessee. The Court also agrees that it is
established by a preponderance of the evidence that the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Smith v. Wyeth,
Inc.,488 F.Supp.2d 625, 630 (W.D. Ky. 2007). Hayes
v. Equitable Energy Resources Co.,266 F.3d 560, 572-73
(6th Cir. 2001). Therefore, this action could have been