United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
January 28, 2004.
MAKER HUTTAM, M.D., Plaintiff,
OSF ST. FRANCIS MEDICAL CENTER, NORMAN ESTES, M.D., STEPHEN MARSHALL, M.D., RICHARD PEARL, M.D., GARY SCHAER, and ROBERT SMOLEN, Ph.D., in their Official and Personal Capacity, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge
This matter is before the court on a motion to dismiss and to
transfer brought by Defendants OSF St. Francis Medical Center ("OSF") and
Gary Schaer. This matter is also before the court on a motion to dismiss
brought by Defendants Norman Estes, M.D., Stephen Marshall, M.D., Richard
Pearl, M.D., and Robert Smolen, Ph.D. For the reasons stated below we
grant the motions in part and deny the motions in part.
In July of 2000 Plaintiff Maher Huttam M.D. ("Huttam") began training
as a third year surgical resident in a residency training program in
Peoria, Illinois, jointly conducted by OSF and the University of
Illinois. Huttam claims that he was discriminated against by Defendants
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 2000-2, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
A district court may transfer an action to another district where the
action might have been brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) "[f]or
the convenience of parties and witnesses, [if it is] in the interest of
justice. . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In order to transfer a case the
transferor court must first find that: 1) venue is proper in the
transferor district, see Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217,
219 (7th Cir. 1986) (stating that a court "in which suit is filed with
proper venue" may transfer an action pursuant to § 1404(a)), and 2)
venue is proper in the transferee district, see 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)
(stating that transfer can only be made to district in which
the action "might have been brought").
If venue is proper in both the transferor and transferee district, the
transferor court should then consider: 1) the choice of forum by
plaintiff, Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Citizens Sank and Trust Co.
of Park Ridge, Ill, 592 F.2d 364, 368 (7th Cir. 1979), 2) the
convenience of the parties, Coffey, 796 F.2d at 220 n.3, 3) the
convenience of the witnesses, Id. and 4) the interest of
justice. Id. The movant bears the burden of establishing that
the transferee district is "clearly more convenient." Id. at
In considering whether to transfer an action the court should "give
some weight to the plaintiffs choice of forum." Federal Deposit Ins.
Corp., 592 F.2d at 368; see also Heller Financial Inc. v.
Midwhey Powder Co., Inc., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir.
1989)(stating that "some weight must be given to [a plaintiffs] choice of
forum"). A transfer pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) should not merely shift the inconvenience from
one party to another, see Heller Financial, Inc., 883 F.2d at
1294(expressing concern that a transfer would merely shift the
inconvenience to the plaintiff), and the choice of a forum by a plaintiff
should not be "lightly . . . disturbed." Warshawsky & Co v.
Arcata Nat'l Corp., 552 F.2d 1257, 1259 (7th Cir. 1977). However,
whenever the plaintiff and defendant are in different states, there will
inevitably be an inconvenience to one side. In re National Presto
Indus., Inc., 347 F.3d 662, 665 (7th Cir. 2003). When the potential
inconvenience to the plaintiff and defendant are comparable "the tie is
awarded to the plaintiff. . . ." Id.; see also Heston v.
Equifax Credit Info. Servs. LLC, 2003 WL 22243986, at *1 (N.D. Ill.
2003)(stating that plaintiffs choice of forum is given less weight if the
case has no "significant connection to the chosen forum. . . .")
In addressing the interest of justice factor a court may consider: 1)
whether a transfer promotes the "efficient administration of justice," 2)
whether the action could be consolidated with other actions in the
transferee district, 3) whether the judges in the transferee district are
more familiar with the pertinent state law, 4) "whether jurors in a
particular district have a financial interest in [the] case," and 5)
which district would have jurors that could "best apply community
standards." Coffey, 796 F.2d at 220-21, 221 n.4. The court
should also consider whether the transferee district has a lighter
docket than the transferor district. In re National Presto Indus.,
Inc., 347 F.3d at 663. In addressing the interest of justice factor
the transferor court should focus on whether the proposed transfer would
promote the "efficient functioning of the courts." Coffey, 796
F.2d at 221. The interest of justice factor does not involve a
consideration of the merits of plaintiffs claim. Id.
In the motion to dismiss filed by OSF Defendants argue that this case
should be transferred to the United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois, Peoria Division ("Central District"). We agree. We
note that Huttam has not filed a response to either motion to dismiss or
to the motion to transfer. Huttam apparently currently resides in the
Northern District of Illinois, but all of the alleged wrongful conduct
occurred in the Central District. Venue is proper in both the Northern
District of Illinois and in the Central District. The Central District
will clearly be a more convenient forum for Defendants. The witnesses and
Defendants are located in the Central District, Huttam has not provided
any reason why it would be particularly difficult for him to pursue his
claims in the Central District The public interest is also served by
transferring the action to the Central District. It is not in the best
interest of the public for the OSF employees and Defendants to be drawn
away from their healthcare duties to travel up to Chicago simply because
Huttam happens to reside in Chicago. We find that a transfer to the
Central District will promote the efficient administration of justice.
Huttam has offered no protest to the motion to transfer and he has
offered no reason why it would be an inconvenience for him to pursue his
claim in the Central District.
Therefore we grant Defendants' motion to transfer this case to the
United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Peoria
Division. All other pending motions are denied as moot.
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