United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
VANESSA WINSTON, Special Administrator of the Estate of Vincent Britt, Plaintiff,
KIMBERLY BUTLER, Warden of Menard Correctional Center, JOHN DOE, ROBERT ROE, and MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
BILLY McDADE United States Senior District Judge
matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion To
Dismiss (Doc. 5). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
decision. For the reasons stated below, the motion is DENIED.
Vanessa Winston, is the sister of Vincent Britt (the
“Decedent”) and is the duly appointed
administrator of his Estate. At the time of his death, the
Decedent was an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”) located in Randolph County, Illinois.
The Complaint is silent as to the residence of Plaintiff.
Defendants John Doe and Robert Roe are unknown and thus,
their residences are also unknown. They are employed by
Menard. Defendant Butler has provided an affidavit under the
authority of Seventh Circuit case law in which she affirms that
she is a resident of Jackson County, Illinois. Both Randolph
County and Jackson County are in the Southern District of
Illinois. This Court lies in the Central District of
events that give rise to this lawsuit occurred in Randolph
County. The suit is predicated upon the wrongful death of the
Decedent. Decedent was a prisoner in Statesville Correctional
Center. He learned that his life was in danger and he secured
a transfer to Pontiac Correctional Center, which is in the
Central District of Illinois. At Pontiac, he learned that he
would be transferred to another facility. Ultimately he was
transferred to Menard. On June 11, 2015, the Decedent
informed his family that he was transferred to Menard and
that he was not in protective custody housing despite his and
his family's repeated requests for protective custody. On
June 16, 2015, the Decedent hung himself. Plaintiff received
a telephone call from Menard informing her that the Decedent
had passed away at 1:15 am that same day.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) allows a defendant to move
for dismissal of a claim for improper venue. Deb v.
SIRVA, Inc., 832 F.3d 809. It is the plaintiff's
burden to demonstrate that venue is proper. Gilbert v.
Ledoux, No. 3:14-CV-1714-TLS, 2015 WL 5098493, at *2
(N.D. Ind. Aug. 31, 2015) citing Grantham v.
Challenge-Cook Bros., Inc., 420 F.2d 1182, 1184 (7th
Cir. 1969). “When venue is challenged, the court must
determine whether the case falls within one of the three
categories set out in [28 U.S.C.] § 1391(b).”
Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for
W. Dist. of Texas, 134 S.Ct. 568, 577 (2013). Section
1391(b) provides in relevant part that
A civil action may be brought in--(1) a judicial district in
which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents
of the State in which the district is located;(2) a judicial
district in which a substantial part of the events or
omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial
part of property that is the subject of the action is
situated; or(3) if there is no district in which an action
may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any
judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the
court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such
28 U.S.C.A. § 1391. When the case does not fit within
one of these three categories, venue shall be deemed
improper. Atl. Marine Const. Co., 134 S.Ct. at 577.
And when venue is improper, the court shall decide whether to
dismiss the case or transfer to a court where venue would be
proper if such a transfer is in the interest of justice.
Id. citing 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).
Venue in the Central District Of Illinois Is Improper For
put, nothing in the Complaint discusses events occurring in
or people having any relevant ties to the Central District of
Illinois. Moreover-to this Court's shock-Plaintiff has
failed to even address venue in her response to the
Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff has provided
nothing to indicate any of the Defendants reside outside the
Southern District of Illinois. Defendant Butler has submitted
an affidavit establishing that she resides in the Southern
District of Illinois. None of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claims are alleged to have occurred in the
Central District of Illinois. Clearly then, venue is proper
in the Southern District of Illinois and the Court must
dismiss the suit or transfer it under 28 U.S.C. § 1406.
Since the Defendants clearly work in the Southern District of
Illinois and Decedent's interaction with Menard's
staff and his death occurred in the Southern District of
Illinois, it stands to reason that the great majority of
witnesses and parties are located in the Southern District of
Illinois. Therefore, venue is proper there.
The Court Will Not Dismiss This Lawsuit For Lack Of
argue that this suit should be dismissed for lack of venue
under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 as opposed to simply being
transferred because there are serious legal deficiencies
within the Complaint. The Court does not believe that it
would be prudent to opine on any purported facial
deficiencies of the Complaint or the substantive merits of
the claims since the case is not properly before the Court.
Even if the Plaintiff's claims are deficient, parties are
generally allowed one chance to cure deficiencies in their
initial pleadings. See Smith v. Union Pac. R. Co.,
474 F. App'x 478, 481 (7th Cir. 2012) (plaintiff is
ordinarily entitled to at least one opportunity to cure the
problem with a complaint through amendment of the
pleadings.). It would not be efficient for this Court to
opine on the legal sufficiency of the Complaint and then hand
the matter over to another court, which would invariably have
to conduct its own analysis and give its opinion on the same
issue. Furthermore, dismissal for lack of venue is not an
adjudication on the merits, Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 41(a)(2);
Johnson v. W. & S. Life Ins. Co., 598 F.
App'x 454, 456 (7th Cir. 2015). Thus, Plaintiff ...