The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUZANNE CONLON, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Invoking the court's diversity jurisdiction, Avco Corporation,
on behalf of its Lycoming Engines Division, sues Modern Plating
Corporation and Progressive Steel Treating, Inc. (collectively
"defendants") to recover settlement payments made by Lycoming for
claims arising from an airplane crash. Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1404(a) and (b), Modern Plating moves to transfer venue to the
court's Western Division sitting in Rockford, Illinois. For the
reasons set forth below, Modern Plating's motion is granted.
The following facts are derived from the complaint, the
answers, and the motion papers. For the purposes of this motion,
the court assumes that these facts are true.
Avco is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of
business in Providence, Rhode Island. Lycoming, operating in
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is an unincorporated division of
Avco. Modern Plating is an Illinois corporation with its
principal place of business in Freeport, Illinois. Progressive Steel is an Illinois corporation with its principal
place of business in Rockford, Illinois.
Freeport and Rockford are both located in the court's Western
Division. Defendants assert that all of their employees live and
work in the Western Division. Their activities relevant to this
case occurred in the Western Division, and all their relevant
documents and equipment are located in the Western Division.
Avco, however, has chosen the Eastern Division for its suit.
This case arises from an airplane crash in Meridian, Mississippi.
While piloting a Piper PA-32R-301 at an altitude of approximately
500 to 600 feet on June 7, 2002, Dr. Mark D. Williams found that
the engine had stopped. Dr. Williams executed a forced landing.
As a result, he was seriously injured, and the airplane was
Based on its investigation of the crash, Lycoming, the
manufacturer of the doomed engine, blames a zinc-plated
crankshaft gear bolt for the engine failure. Lycoming believes
the bolt fractured due to hydrogen embrittlement, and
manufacturing defects caused the embrittlement. Lycoming claims
defendants were involved in the manufacturing of the bolt in
question Modern Plating performed the zinc plating and baking
and Progressive Steel performed the heat-treating. Thus, Lycoming
contends defendants are liable for the engine failure.
In its complaint on behalf of Lycoming, Avco seeks to recover
the settlement payments Lycoming made to Dr. Williams, his wife,
and the insurer of his airplane for their damages resulting from
the unfortunate crash. In their respective answers, defendants
deny liability. Modern Plating moves to transfer venue pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1404(a) and (b), supported by affidavits from
James Stenberg, its president, and Jim Simonovich, the president
of Progressive Steel. Avco opposes. DISCUSSION
A district court may transfer a civil action to any district or
division where the case may have been brought for "the
convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). A court may also transfer a case
from one division to another in the same district.
28 U.S.C. § 1404(b). To prevail on a motion to transfer under § 1404(a),
Modern Plating must demonstrate: "(1) venue is proper in the
transferor district; (2) venue and jurisdiction are proper in the
transferee district; and (3) the transfer will serve the
convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and
the interests of justice." Schwarz v. Nat'l Van Lines, Inc.,
317 F. Supp. 2d 829, 833 (N.D. Ill. 2004) (citing Vandeveld v.
Christoph, 877 F. Supp. 1160, 1167 (N.D. Ill. 1995)). Modern
Plating has the further burden of establishing, "by reference to
particular circumstances, that the transferee forum is clearly
more convenient." Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217,
219-20 (7th Cir. 1986). In assessing a motion to transfer, the
court must consider the statutory factors in light of all of the
circumstances of the case. Id. at 219. The weight accorded to
each factor is committed to the sound discretion of the court.
The parties do not dispute that venue and jurisdiction are
proper in either division; they disagree only on whether the
Eastern or Western Division is a more appropriate forum for this
case. Therefore, the court considers the convenience of the
parties and witnesses, and the interests of justice.
I. Convenience of the Parties
The convenience of the parties and witnesses is the most
important § 1404(a) factor. See Dunn v. Soo Line R.R.,
864 F. Supp. 64, 65 (N.D. Ill. 1994) (citing Rose v. Franchetti,
713 F. Supp. 1203, 1214 (N.D. Ill. 1989)). When evaluating this factor, the
court considers four prongs: (1) plaintiff's choice of forum; (2)
the site of material events; (3) availability of evidence in each
forum; and (4) the parties' convenience in litigating in the
respective forums. Houck v. Trans World Airlines, Inc.,
947 F. Supp. 373, 375 (N.D. Ill. 1996) (citing College Craft Cos., v.
Perry, 889 F. Supp. 1052, 1054 (N.D. Ill. 1995)). The court
analyzes these four considerations in turn.
First, Avco's choice of forum deserves only nominal deference.
Avco has chosen to file this case in the Eastern Division.
Plaintiff's choice of forum is generally given substantial weight
under § 1404(a), particularly when plaintiff chooses its home
forum. See Dunn, 864 F. Supp. at 65 (citing Piper Aircraft Co.
v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255-56 (1981)). But the Eastern Division
is not the home forum for either Avco or Lycoming. Moreover, the
Western Division bears a substantial relationship with this case
because defendants' principle places of business are located
there. Avco's chosen forum is entitled to less weight if it is
not its home forum or if it lacks substantial contact with the
litigation. Plotkin v. IP Axess, Inc., 168 F. Supp. 2d 899, 902
(N.D. Ill. 2001); see also Countryman v. Stein Roe & Farnham,
681 F. Supp. 479, 482-83 (N.D. Ill. 1987). Accordingly, the court
gives nominal weight to ...