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Holman v. AMU Trans, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 25, 2015

JERRY HOLMAN AND TERESIA HOLMAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMU TRANS, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MARY M. ROWLAND, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Dkt. 21). Defendant asserts the case should be transferred to the Middle District of Tennessee or, alternatively, to the Northern District of West Virginia. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendant's motion to transfer to the Northern District of West Virginia.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendant AMU Trans, LLC, on June 13, 2014, in the Northern District of Illinois seeking damages as a result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Martinsburg, West Virginia on October 17, 2012. (Dkt. 21 at 1). A driver for Defendant AMU Trans hit Mr. Holman's truck while Mr. Holman was stopped for traffic. Both Mr. Holman and the driver were driving trucks for their employers at the time of the accident. Following the accident, Mr. Holman received medical treatment in West Virginia and Tennessee. (Dkt. 21 at 3). AMU Trans admits liability in its Amended Answer. (Dkt. 27 at 2). Thus, the only remaining issues before this Court are the nature and extent of Plaintiffs' alleged injuries. Plaintiff Jerry Holman seeks damages for injuries suffered as a result of the motor vehicle accident and Plaintiff Teresia Holman seeks damages for loss of consortium. (Dkt. 21 at 1). Plaintiffs are residents of Tennessee. AMU Trans was an Illinois limited liability company with its principal place of business in Cicero, Illinois at the time of the incident.

II. DISCUSSION

Section 1404(a) provides: "For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The decision to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) requires a weighing of factors for and against transfer. Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219 (7th Cir. 1986). This weighing "involves a large degree of subtlety and latitude, and, therefore, is committed to the sound discretion of the trial judge." Id. As the moving party, Defendant has the burden of demonstrating that the transferee district is "clearly more convenient." Id. at 219-20.

Several factors must be met for an action to be transferred to another venue: "(1) venue is proper in this district; (2) venue [and jurisdiction are] proper in the transferee district; (3) the transferee district is more convenient for both the parties and witnesses; and (4) transfer would serve the interest of justice." Jaramillo v. DineEquity, Inc., 664 F.Supp.2d 908, 913 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (citations omitted).

A. Transferor District

A civil case may be brought in "a judicial district in which any defendant resides." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1). When the case was filed, Defendant was an Illinois limited liability company with its principal place of business in Cicero, Illinois.[1] (Dkt. 21 at 4). "[A]n entity... shall be deemed to reside, if a defendant, in any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c)(2). Thus, venue is proper in the Northern District of Illinois.

B. Transferee Districts

Defendant seeks to transfer this action to either one of two transferee courts: the Middle District of Tennessee or the Northern District of West Virginia. A civil case in which a federal court only has jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship "may, except as otherwise provided by law, be brought only in the judicial district where all plaintiffs or all defendants reside, or in which the claim arose." Kinney v. Anchorlock Corp., 736 F.Supp. 818, 821 (N.D. Ill. 1990). A case may be transferred to another district "where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "Although the phrase where it might have been brought' appears simple enough, the Supreme Court was called upon to interpret the phrase in Hoffman v. Blaski. " Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. v. Magellan Navigation, Inc., 512 F.Supp.2d 1169, 1172 (W.D. Wis. 2007). In Hoffman, the Court reasoned that "where it might have been brought" means that the plaintiff has to have had the right to bring its case in the transferee district, which would require proper venue and personal jurisdiction over the defendants in the transferee district. Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 344 (1960). However, as the Court explained, "where it might have been brought" did not mean "where it may now be rebrought, with defendants' consent." Id. at 342-43. "This interpretation appeared to create the bright-line rule that if for any reason the plaintiff's exact same case could not be brought as a matter of right in the transferee district (e.g., due to a lack of personal jurisdiction over defendants or a lack of subject matter jurisdiction in the transferee district) then the transferee district would not be a district where it might have been brought' under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 512 F.Supp.2d at 1173.

1. Middle District of Tennessee

The parties dispute whether the Middle District of Tennessee has the power to exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant. Defendant, a trucking company, conducted business in Tennessee by using its highways and streets and paying a Motor Vehicle Use Tax for the years 2012 and 2013. (Dkt. 21 at 6). Plaintiffs argue that, under recent case law, Defendant's contacts with Tennessee are insufficient to satisfy general personal jurisdiction. The Court agrees.

The Due Process Clause authorizes personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants when the defendant has "certain minimum contacts with [the state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). Courts recognize two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific. Daimler AG v. Bauman, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 746, 751 (2014). General jurisdiction is "all-purpose"; it exists only "when the corporation's affiliations with the State in which suit is brought are so constant and pervasive as to render it essentially at home in the forum State.'" Id. (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 2846, ...


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