UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION
December 18, 1996
CRYSTAL WOLFORD, et al., Plaintiffs,
AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS CORP., a Delaware Corporation; WYETH-AYERST LABORATORIES CO., a New York Corporation, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the Court's motion to transfer this matter to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Columbus Division, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
Defendants American Home Products Corp. and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories Co. -- a wholly owned subsidiary of American Home Products Corp. -- developed, manufactured, and distributed a contraceptive product called Norplant.
Plaintiffs claim that the Norplant product is dangerous and defective. Consequently, Plaintiffs filed an eight count complaint against Defendants premising recovery on: (1) strict product liability; (2) negligence; (3) breach of express warranty; (4) breach of implied warranty; (5) fraud; (6) misrepresentation; (7) consumer fraud; and in count (8) they seek punitive damages.
All Plaintiffs are citizens of Ohio and reside throughout the state. Defendant American Home Products Corp. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey. Defendant Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories Co. is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a):
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.
A transfer under § 1404(a) is appropriate if: (1) venue is proper in both the transferor and transferee court; (2) transfer is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses; and (3) transfer is in the interests of justice. Vandeveld v. Christoph, 877 F. Supp. 1160, 1167 (N.D. Ill. 1995). "The weighing of factors for and against transfer necessarily involves a large degree of subtlety and latitude, and therefore, is committed to the sound discretion of the trial judge." Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219 (7th Cir. 1986).
Here, venue is proper in both the Northern District of Illinois (the transferor court) and the Southern District of Ohio (the transferee court), see 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a)(1) and (2), (c).
B. Convenience of Parties and Witnesses
When evaluating the convenience of the parties and witnesses, the court considers, among other things: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the site of material events; (3) the availability of evidence in each forum; and (4) the convenience to the parties of litigating in the respective forums. College Craft Co. Ltd. v. Perry, 889 F. Supp. 1052, 1054 (N.D. Ill. 1995).
Plaintiffs chose the Northern District of Illinois to litigate this action; and, generally, the plaintiff's choice of forum is granted substantial weight. Dunn v. Soo Line R.R. Co., 864 F. Supp. 64, 65 (N.D. Ill. 1994). When, however, the plaintiff does not reside in the chosen forum and the conduct and events giving rise to the cause of action did not take place in the selected forum, the plaintiff's preference has nominal value. See id.; Kingsley v. Dixon Old People's Home Fund, Inc., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10237, No. 96 C 2464, WL 417548 *1 (N.D. Ill. July 22, 1996). Here, as noted, the Plaintiffs are citizens of Ohio and reside throughout the state. None of the events giving rise to the action occurred in the Northern District of Illinois. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' choice to initiate this action in the Northern District of Illinois is accorded virtually no weight.
Next, there are no allegations that the material events underlying the various causes of action occurred in Illinois. Accordingly, this factor also militates in favor of transferring the case to a more suitable district.
Regarding the availability of evidence, there is no indication that relevant evidence is located in this district.
Thus, this factor also militates in favor of transferring the matter.
Regarding the convenience of the parties, none of the parties are citizens or reside in Illinois. As noted, Plaintiffs are citizens of Ohio and reside throughout the state. Thus, the Court does not understand why it would be more convenient for the parties to litigate here rather than Ohio.
Indeed, an Ohio forum is far more readily accessible to Plaintiffs than an Illinois forum. Accordingly, this factor also militates in favor of transferring the case.
C. Interests of Justice
The "interests of justice" component concerns the "efficient administration of the court system." Coffey, 796 F.2d at 221. It includes such considerations as the speed at which the case will proceed to trial, the feasibility of consolidation, the court's familiarity with applicable law, and the public interest in having a case resolved in a particular forum. Id.; see Reinke v. Boden, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11809, No. 92 C 744, WL 467240 *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 13, 1996).
Here, first, there is no indication that the case will proceed to trial at a quicker pace in the Northern District of Illinois rather than in the Southern District of Ohio. Second, there is no indication that Illinois law will apply to this matter. Finally, the Court cannot conceive of why there would be a strong public interest in having this matter tried in the Northern District of Illinois.
After considering the convenience of the parties and witnesses, and the interests of justice, the Court concludes that this matter should be transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Columbus Division. In short, this case has virtually no connection with the Northern District of Illinois.
Date: DEC 18 1996
JAMES H. ALESIA
United States District Judge