The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA
Before the court is defendant Brightly Galvanized Products, Inc.'s ("Brightly"), motion to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons that follow, the court denies the motion to transfer.
In December 1994, Brightly was named as a defendant in The Ninth Avenue Remedial Group v. Allis Chalmers, No. 2:94 CV 0331 RL, an environmental contamination and clean-up lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. Upon being named as a defendant in Ninth Avenue, Brightly notified its insurance carriers of the lawsuit and requested that the insurers defend and indemnify it. Plaintiff in this lawsuit, TIG Insurance Company ("TIG"), was one of these insurers.
In October 1995, TIG filed the instant lawsuit in this court against Brightly and several other insurers, seeking a declaration regarding its contractual obligations to defend and indemnify Brightly in Ninth Avenue Invoking 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), Brightly now moves to transfer this case to the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, where Ninth Avenue is pending.
Section 1404(a) 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The party moving to transfer under section 1404(a) bears the burden of establishing that (1) venue is proper in the transferor district; (2) venue is proper in the transferee forum; and (3) the transfer is for the convenience of the parties and the witnesses and is in the interest of justice. Id.; Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986).
The parties agree, as does this court, that venue is proper both in this court and the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. Therefore, the only issue in dispute is whether a section 1404(a) transfer to Hammond is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice. The court analyzes this third component on an individualized, case-by-case basis. See Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219-20.
A. Convenience of litigants and witnesses
In determining whether to transfer venue, the court seeks to promote both the private interests of the parties and the efficient administration of justice. North Shore Gas Co. v. Salomon, Inc., 896 F. Supp. 786, 791 (N.D. Ill. 1995) (citing Black v. Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America, Inc., No. 94 C 3055, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11158, 1994 WL 424112, *2 (N.D. III. Aug. 10, 1994)). The private interests that may support a transfer include "the plaintiff's initial choice of forum; the relative ease of access to sources of proof; the availability of compulsory process for the attendance of unwilling witnesses, and the costs of obtaining the attendance of witnesses; and the situs of material events." Id. (citing Genden v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, 621 F. Supp. 780, 782 (N.D. Ill. 1985); Club Assistance Program, Inc. v. Zukerman, 598 F. Supp. 734, 736-37 (N.D. Ill. 1984)).
In the present case, TIG obviously has chosen this court as its forum of choice. While this factor is "afforded substantial deference, it is 'simply one factor among many to be considered.'" North Shore, 896 F. Supp. at 791 (citing Club Assistance Program, 598 F. Supp. at 736.) As for the other factors, TIG asserts that the instant dispute concerns the application of Illinois law to an insurance policy issued in Illinois to an Illinois business. (Pl.'s Mem. in Opp. to Def.'s Mot. to Transfer P 3.) Thus, all of the witnesses and almost all of the relevant documents are located in Illinois. (Id.)
A letter from Brightly's counsel to TIG supports TIG's assertions. The letter states that copies of all correspondence between Brightly and the Environmental Protection Agency, copies of correspondence between Brightly and PRP,
and transcripts of depositions of the waste hauler and others involved in hauling waste to the site on behalf of Brightly are available for review at Brightly's counsel's office in Chicago. (Id. Ex. A.)
Brightly does not dispute or contradict any of these representations of TIG. Thus, it appears to the court that virtually all of the evidence that may be necessary in the trial of this lawsuit is located in Illinois, and more specifically, in Chicago, where this court sits. In addition, since the witnesses that may be called at trial are located in Illinois, this court would have jurisdiction to compel unwilling witnesses to appear at trial. Moreover, the costs of obtaining the attendance of witnesses at trial in this court would be no more than, if not less than, the costs of obtaining the attendance of witnesses at trial in Hammond.
Brightly contends that because the claims in Ninth Avenue involve similar issues as the case before this court and the same parties and witnesses may need to attend trials in both forums, it would be more convenient for the parties to adjudicate both claims in the same district. However, the court disagrees with Brightly's characterization of the lawsuits as similar. The issues before this court revolve solely around insurance coverage. The issues before the Indiana court undoubtedly involve issues such as liability of different persons under environmental statutes and ...