4. Convenience of the witnesses
Both parties agree that the court's review in this case is
limited to a determination as to whether the decision to deny
benefits was "arbitrary and capricious." (Defs.' Memo. at 9 n. 5;
Pl.'s Resp.Br. at 4); see also Donato v. Metropolitan Life Ins.
Co., 19 F.3d 375, 380 (7th Cir. 1994). Under this standard, the
court's review is confined to the evidence and information that
was before the Plan administrator when it made its decision.
(Defs.' Memo. at 9 n. 5; Pl.'s Resp.Br. at 4.) Thus, according to
the parties, no witnesses will be needed to resolve this
litigation. Accordingly, the court finds that this factor weighs
neither in favor of nor against transfer.
5. Convenience to the parties
The next factor the court should consider is the convenience of
the litigants. Specifically, the court should consider their
respective residences and their ability to bear the expenses of
litigating in a particular forum. Habitat Wallpaper Blinds, Inc.
v. K.T. Scott Ltd. Partnership, 807 F. Supp. 470, 474 (N.D.Ill.
1992). Transfer is inappropriate if it "merely transforms an
inconvenience for one party into an inconvenience for the other
party." Chemical Waste Management, Inc., 870 F. Supp. at 876
(citing Sage Prods., Inc. v. Devon Indus., Inc., 148 F.R.D.
213, 216 (N.D.Ill. 1993)).
In this case, litigation in Illinois would be not be convenient
to ITT, MetLife, or Bryant. None of the parties are Illinois
citizens. However, ITT and MetLife will be inconvenienced
regardless of whether the litigation is in Illinois or Kentucky.
Bryant does not object to the inconvenience of litigation in
Illinois. Accordingly, the court finds that this factor weighs
neither in favor of nor against transfer.
B. Interests of justice
The final factor to be considered is whether transfer will
serve the interests of justice. The "interests of justice"
component "embraces traditional notions of judicial economy,
rather than the private interests of the litigants and their
witnesses." TIG Ins. Co. v. Brightly Galvanized Prod., Inc.,
911 F. Supp. 342, 346 (N.D.Ill. 1996). It includes such
considerations as (1) the speed at which the case will proceed to
trial; (2) the court's familiarity with the applicable law; (3)
the desirability of resolving controversies in their locale; and
(4) the relation of the community to the occurrence at issue.
Symons Corp. v. Southern Forming & Supply, Inc., 954 F. Supp. 184,
187 (N.D.Ill. 1997). The administration of justice is served
more efficiently when the action is litigated in the forum that
is "closer to the action." Paul v. Lands' End, Inc.,
742 F. Supp. 512, 514 (N.D.Ill. 1990).
1. Speed at which the case will proceed to trial
ITT and MetLife have attached the statistic reports from the
Federal Court Management Statistics for the period ending
September 30, 1997. ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES
COURTS, 1997 FEDERAL COURT MANAGEMENT STATISTICS. ITT and MetLife
argue that the statistics show that the parties may receive a
quicker trial in the Western District of Kentucky.
As this court has previously explained, of the numerous court
management statistics available, the two most relevant statistics
to the court's current analysis are (1) the median months from
filing to disposition and (2) the median months from filing to
trial. Vandeveld, 877 F. Supp. at 1169; Applied Web Sys.,
Inc., 1991 WL 70893, at *8. In this case, the median months from
filing to disposition was 5 months in the Northern District of
Illinois compared to 9 months in the Western District of
Kentucky, a difference of 4 months. However, the median months
from filing to trial was 24 months in the Northern District of
Illinois compared to 22 months in the Western District of
Kentucky, a difference of 2 months. These statistics suggest that
litigation has a chance of proceeding to trial quicker in the
Western District of Kentucky but of being disposed of quicker in
the Northern District of Illinois. However, the differences in
either of the comparisons is not significant. Accordingly, the
court finds that the relevant statistics weigh neither in favor
of nor against transfer.
2. The court's familiarity with the applicable law
This case is an ERISA action; there is no state law involved in
the dispute. Accordingly, this factor is neutral in the court's
3. The desirability of resolving controversies in their locale
and the relation of the community to the occurrence at issue
This is the strongest factor weighing in favor of transfer. As
previously explained, Kentucky has a much stronger connection to
this case than Illinois. As between Illinois and Kentucky,
Kentucky is the situs of the majority of the material events in
this case. The breach, if any, occurred in Kentucky. Bryant is a
resident of Kentucky. It is Bryant's medical condition in
Kentucky that is relevant to the dispute. If Bryant is entitled
to any benefits, those benefits will be paid to Bryant in
Kentucky. Illinois' only connection to the action is that Bryant
lived and worked in Illinois when she became a Plan participant
and initially became disabled. None of the parties are citizens
of Illinois and the breach did not occur in Illinois. Thus, the
court finds that Kentucky has a much stronger interest in
resolving this litigation and is the community which is
undoubtedly "closer to the action." Accordingly, this factor
weighs strongly in favor of transfer.
Based on the above considerations, the court has determined
that this case should be transferred to the Western District of
Kentucky. It is true that Illinois is Bryant's chosen forum.
However, Illinois is not Bryant's home forum; Kentucky is.
Further, Illinois is not the situs of the material events in this
case. As between Kentucky and Illinois, Kentucky is the situs of
the majority of the material events in this case. Kentucky has a
much stronger interest in seeing this dispute resolved and is
undoubtedly the community which is "closer to the action."
Accordingly, this court finds that ITT and MetLife have met their
burden of showing that this case should be transferred to the
Western District of Kentucky pursuant to § 1404(a).
For the foregoing reasons, the court grants defendants
Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and ITT Industries, Inc.'s motion
to transfer this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
Accordingly, the court transfers this case to the Western
District of Kentucky, Louisville Division.