JULIA RORAH, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
PETERSEN HEALTH CARE, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOHN J. THARP, Jr., District Judge.
Julia Rorah filed this action, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, against Petersen Health Care ("PHC"), alleging that the defendant failed to pay her earned wages and overtime for work she performed in excess of forty hours per week, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS §§ 105/4(a), 115/3 et seq. Now before the Court is the defendant's motion to transfer venue to the Western Division of the Northern District of Illinois ("Western Division") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons set forth below, the defendant's motion is granted.
Plaintiff Rorah is a licensed practical nurse who resides in Annawan, Illinois, located in the Central District of Illinois ("Central District"). Def.'s Reply, Dkt. 24 at 6 n.1. She contends that during her employment with PHC the defendant failed to pay her the wages she earned while working during her lunch period, as well as overtime wages for the work she performed in excess of forty hours per week, pursuant to the FLSA and IMWL. Am. Compl. at ¶ 3-5. The defendant operates roughly 60 facilities that offer various healthcare related services, including assisted living, independent living, skilled nursing facilities, supported living, and retirement communities. Id. at ¶ 16. The plaintiff worked at PHC's facility in Morrison, Illinois, which is located in the Western Division, from May 2010 to November 2011, and at their facility in Royal Oaks, Illinois, located in the Central District, from April 2012 to November 2012. Id. at ¶ 11. PHC's other facilities are located throughout the Midwest. In particular, and most relevant to the instant motion, three PHC facilities are located in the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Illinois ("Eastern Division"), at least six facilities are in the Western Division, and at least ten facilities, including PHC's corporate headquarters, are in the Central District. Def.'s Reply, Dkt. 24 at 5.
Despite the fact that Rorah does not live in, and the material events of her allegations occurred outside of, the Eastern Division, she chose to file her putative FLSA collective action in this Court. PHC contends that this action should be transferred to the Western Division because the material events of this case occurred in the Western Division, the Western Division is the more convenient venue for the parties and witnesses, and the Western Division has a greater interest in the litigation of this matter than the Eastern Division. Mot. to Change Venue, Dkt. 13 at 2-6. Rorah, on the other hand, argues that this case should not be transferred to the Western Division because the Eastern Division is the more convenient forum. Pl.'s Resp., Dkt. 19 at 3.
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). Transfer of venue under § 1404(a) is proper if the moving party demonstrates that (1) the venue is proper in both the transferee and transferor courts; (2) it is for the convenience of the parties or witnesses, also called "private interest" factors; and (3) it is in the interest of justice, also called "public interest" factors. Bjoraker v. Dakota, Minn. & E. R.R. Corp., No. 12 C 07513, 2013 WL 951155, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 12, 2013) (citing Navarette v. JQS Prop. Maint., No. 07 C 06164, 2008 WL 299084, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 29, 2008)); see also Concrete Structures of Midwest, Inc. v. Treco Const. Servs., Inc., No. 95 C 50211, 1996 WL 67213, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 16, 1996) ("A motion to transfer venue between divisions is subject to the same analysis as any other transfer of venue." (citing Carr v. Vill. of Rosemont, No. 94 C 07355, 1995 WL 103635, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 3, 1995))).
District courts "take into account all factors relevant to convenience and/or the interests of justice, " Research Automation, Inc. v. Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 978 (7th Cir. 2010), and have "discretion... to adjudicate motions for transfer according to [a]... case-by-case basis consideration of convenience and fairness." Id. at 977 (citing Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)); In re Joint E. & S. Dist. Asbestos Litigation, 22 F.3d 755, 762 (7th Cir. 1994)); see also id. at 977-78 ("[The Seventh Circuit] grant[s] a substantial degree of deference to the district court in deciding whether transfer is appropriate." (citing Tice v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 162 F.3d 966, 974 (7th Cir. 1998))). "Where the balance of convenience is a close call, merely shifting inconvenience from one party to another is not a sufficient basis for transfer." Research Automation, Inc., 626 F.3d at 978-79 (citing Gueorguiev v. Max Rave, LLC, 526 F.Supp.2d 853, 857 (N.D. Ill. 2007); Kubin-Nicholson Corp. v. Gillon, 525 F.Supp.2d 1071, 1075 (E.D. Wis. 2007); Enviroplan, Inc. v. W. Farmers Elec. Coop., 900 F.Supp. 1055, 1064 (S.D. Ind. 1995); Kendall U.S.A., Inc. v. Cent. Printing Co., 666 F.Supp. 1264, 1268-69 (N.D. Ind. 1987)).
Neither party disputes that the first two elements of the change-of-venue inquiry-venue in both the transferor and the transferee courts-have been satisfied in this case. Venue is proper in either division because the Northern District of Illinois has no local rule requiring divisional venue- i.e., cases occurring in the Northern District may be brought in either the Eastern or Western Division. Id. Accordingly, whether this case should be transferred depends on whether doing so will "satisf[y] both the private and public interests at stake." Chi. Male Med. Clinic, LLC v. Ultimate Mgmt., Inc., No. 12 C 05542, 2012 WL 6755104, at *11 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 28, 2012) (quoting Aramark Mgmt. Servs. L.P. v. Martha's Vineyard Hosp., Inc., No. 03 C 01642, 2003 WL 21476091, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June, 23, 2003)).
A. Private Interest Factors
"In evaluating [private interest factors], the court considers: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the situs of material events; (3) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (4) the convenience of the witnesses; and (5) the convenience of the parties." St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Brother Int'l Corp., No. 05 C 05484, 2006 WL 1543275, at *1 (N.D. Ill. June 1, 2006) (citing Wash. Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. Calcasieu Parish Sch. Bd., No. 05 C 02551, 2006 WL 1215413, at *8 (N.D. Ill. May 2, 2006)). Further, the moving party must show that the "transferee forum is clearly more convenient." Body Sci. LLC v. Boston Sci. Corp., 846 F.Supp.2d 980, 991 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (citing Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986)). As explained below, PHC has demonstrated that the balance of these factors weighs in favor of transferring this case to the Western Division.
1. The Plaintiff's Choice of Forum
Generally, the plaintiff's initial choice of forum is entitled to substantial weight. See Wright v. Godinez, No. 12 C 05037, 2012 WL 5342366, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 26, 2012) (citing Plotkin v. IP Axess, Inc., 168 F.Supp.2d 899, 902 (N.D. Ill. 2001)). However, this factor is not dispositive, see Q Sales & Leasing, LLC v. Quilt Prot., Inc., No 01 C 01993, 2002 WL 1732418, at *2 (N.D. Ill. July 26, 2002), and "is given less weight when (1) the plaintiff is a non-resident of the chosen forum; (2) the plaintiff sues derivatively or as a class representative; or (3) where the cause of action did not conclusively arise in the chosen forum." Leuders v. 3M Co., No. 08 C 02456, 2008 WL 2705444, at *2 (N.D. Ill. July 9, 2008) (quoting Carbonara v. Olmos, No. 93 C 02626, 1993 WL 472651, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 15, 1993)).
In this case, the plaintiff's home forum is in the Central District, Def.'s Reply, Dkt. 24 at 6 n.1, she has filed this action as the representative of a putative FLSA collective action, Am. Compl., Dkt. 9 at ¶ 1, and the material events in this case occurred in the Central District and Western Division. Id. at ¶ 11. For these reasons, the plaintiff's ...