Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McDowell v. Illinois Central Railroad Co.

December 4, 2008

MICKELL MCDOWELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of defendant Illinois Central Railroad Company ("Illinois Central") to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (Doc. 8). Plaintiff Mickell McDowell ("McDowell") has responded to the motion (Doc. 14), and Illinois Central has replied to that response (Doc. 19).

I. Background

McDowell brought this case in the Southern District of Illinois under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. He seeks compensation for injuries sustained when he tripped on a loose metal strip in a locomotive and fell on August 20, 2006, in McComb, Mississippi, while working as an engineer for Illinois Central. He sought immediate medical treatment in McComb, then elsewhere, including in St. Louis, Missouri. McComb is in the Southern District of Mississippi and is over 500 miles from Benton, Illinois, where McDowell filed this case. Illinois Central filed this motion to transfer venue to the Southern District of Mississippi for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice. McDowell maintains that a transfer of venue is not warranted.

II. Transfer Standards

Illinois Central does not contest that venue is proper in the Southern District of Illinois under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 or 45 U.S.C. § 56 and therefore does not seek a change of venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406, which governs transfer or dismissal when venue is improper. Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 634 (1964). Indeed, Illinois Central is an Illinois corporation with its headquarters in the Northern District of Illinois and business operations in the Southern District of Illinois. Therefore, under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c), it is deemed to be a resident of, among other districts, the Southern District of Illinois and subject to venue here.*fn1

Instead, Illinois Central relies exclusively on 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), under which a district court may transfer a civil action to any other district where the action might have been brought originally "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The decision to transfer a case is left to the discretion of the district court. Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988); Van Dusen, 376 U.S. at 622; Cote v. Wadel, 796 F.2d 981, 985 (7th Cir. 1986); see Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 32 (1955).

In deciding a § 1404(a) motion to transfer, the Court should consider a number of case-specific factors such as, for example, the convenience of the potential transferee forum to the parties and witnesses and the interests of justice in general. Stewart, 487 U.S. at 29-30; see Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219 (7th Cir. 1986) (citing Van Dusen , 376 U.S. at 622). "The movant . . . has the burden of establishing, by reference to particular circumstances, that the transferee forum is clearly more convenient," Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219-20, and the Court must give some weight in favor of the forum in which the plaintiff chose to file the complaint, Heller Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., Inc., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989); Macedo v. Boeing Co., 693 F.2d 683, 688 (7th Cir. 1982).

Even if the circumstances indicate that a transfer would be clearly more convenient to the parties and witnesses, a court may still refuse to transfer the case if it is not in the interest of justice. Coffey, 796 F.2d at 220; Van Dusen, 376 U.S. at 625. "Factors traditionally considered in an 'interest of justice' analysis relate to the efficient administration of the court system," including where the litigants are more likely to receive a speedy trial. Coffey, 796 F.2d at 221.

III. Analysis

In light of the particular circumstances of this case, the Court finds that Illinois Central has met its burden of showing that the Southern District of Mississippi is clearly more convenient than the Southern District of Illinois and that a transfer of venue to the Southern District of Mississippi is in the interest of justice.

A. Plaintiff's Chosen Forum

The plaintiff has chosen to file this lawsuit in the Southern District of Illinois. Ordinarily the Court should give this factor substantial weight and should rarely transfer a case from the plaintiff's selected forum. In re National Presto Indus., Inc., 347 F.3d 662, 663-64 (7th Cir. 2003). However, the importance of the plaintiff's choice of forum is reduced when the plaintiff does not live in the forum, few relevant events occurred in the forum and other factors weigh heavily in favor of a transfer.

At the time of his accident, McDowell and his family lived in the Southern District of Mississippi, and the accident and the most immediate medical treatment occurred in the Southern District of Mississippi. Other medical treatment occurred in Missouri and possibly other locations which are not disclosed in the record. There is nothing in the record that points to any connection between the events in this case and the Southern District of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.