United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
FIRAS M. AYOUBI, Plaintiff,
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., CHRISTINE BROWN, SCOTT THOMPSON, ALBERTO BUTALID, PERCY MEYERS, STEPHEN RITZ and ALISA DEARMOND, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
GILBERT C. SISON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Firas Ayoubi's motion for transfer of
venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404 (Doc. 111).
Specifically, Ayoubi moves to transfer this case to the
Western Division of the Northern District of Illinois
arguing, inter alia, he is now housed at Dixon
Correctional Center (“Dixon”), which is located
in the Northern District; that the circumstances underlying
the complaint are on-going; that lawyers in the Northern
District of Illinois will be more likely to take up the case
if it is transferred; and that Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
has attorney offices in the Northern District of Illinois.
Defendants oppose the motion (Docs. 117, 118). Based on the
following, the Court DENIES the motion.
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pro se Plaintiff Ayoubi
filed his complaint for deprivations of his constitutional
rights that occurred at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”). After conducting the
preliminary review of Ayoubi's complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, the following claim survived:
Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Wexford Health
Sources, Inc., Christine Brown, Scott Thompson, Dr. Alberto
Butalid, Dr. Percy Meyers, Dr. Stephen Ritz and Alisa
Dearmond for exhibiting deliberate indifference to
Ayoubi's serious medical needs (worsening neurological
symptoms associated with pain).
(Doc. 4). As to Thompson, Brown and Wexford, the Court also
found that Ayoubi stated a viable claim against them
“to the extent that he is alleging these defendants
implemented and/or maintained cost-cutting policies aimed at
denying inmate access to expensive treatment, i.e.,
by delaying or denying referrals to specialists outside the
prison. (Doc. 1, p. 11, 13-14, 18-19). See Monell v.
Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978);
Del Raine v. Williford, 32 F.3d 1024, 1047 (7th Cir.
1994)(noting that personal involvement can take the form of
formulating and directing an unconstitutional policy).”
motion to transfer venue is ripe, the Court turns to address
1404(a), which governs the transfer of an action from one
federal district court to another, 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
purpose of § 1404(a) is to prevent the waste of time,
energy and money and to protect litigants, witnesses and the
public against unnecessary inconvenience and expenses . .
..” Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616
(1964). Ayoubi bears the burden of establishing that the
transferee forum is “clearly more convenient.”
Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 220
(7th Cir. 1986).
weighing these factors, a task committed to the sound
discretion of the trial judge, district courts must consider
the statutory factors in light of all the circumstances of
the case. See Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219. When
assessing convenience, courts generally look to “each
party's access to and distance from resources in each
forum, ” “the location of material events,
” “the availability of and access to witnesses,
” and “the relative ease of access to sources of
proof.” See Research Automation, Inc. v.
Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 978
(7th Cir. 2010).
the interests of justice, courts consider “docket
congestion and likely speed to trial in the transferor and
potential transferee forums; each court's relative
familiarity with the relevant law; the respective
desirability of resolving controversies in each locale; and
the relationship of each community to the controversy.”
Research Automation, 626 F.3d at 978 (citations
omitted). The Court stresses that “'unless the
balance is strongly in favor of the defendant, the
plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be
disturbed.”” In re Nat'l Presto Indus.,
Inc., 347 F.3d 662, 664 (7th Cir. 2003)(quoting Gulf
Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508 (1947)). Stated
more plainly, a tie goes to the plaintiff. Id. at
Ayoubi has not met his burden of demonstrating that the
Northern District of Illinois is clearly more convenient. All
of the incidents alleged in the complaint occurred in
Pinckneyville, which is located in this judicial district.
Further, Defendants Brown, Thompson, Butalid, Meyers, and
Dearmond work at Pinckneyville and reside within that area.
Unquestionably, the Southern District of Illinois is
convenient for these Defendants.
the convenience of this forum to Ayoubi, the undersigned
notes that the Northern District currently is more convenient
for him. However, as Ayoubi is a prisoner within the Illinois
Department of Corrections, there is a chance that Ayoubi
could be transferred to another facility during this
litigation. Also, the Court rejects Ayoubi's argument
that he should be transferred because the Northern District
of Illinois has a pro bono program and he would likely get
appointed counsel if the case was transferred. The Southern
District of Illinois also has a pro bono program for prisoner
litigants. Moreover, the Court finds that Ayoubi may appear
in court by videoconference from Dixon instead of traveling
to the Southern District of Illinois for court hearings.
Further, the medical records and prison records relating to
this event are located in this judicial district and any
other such documents (which are located in Dixon) can easily
be brought to this judicial district. The Court does not
believe that keeping the case in the Southern District of
Illinois would be especially inconvenient for Ayoubi. Thus,
the Court is not persuaded that the transferor district is
any less convenient for Ayoubi than the transferee district.
same applies for the convenience of witnesses. According to
Defendants, Ayoubi's Rule 26 disclosures identified 32
non-party and non-retained expert witnesses. Out of these, 22
of them are either employed at Pinckneyville or at the time
of the disclosures were inmates housed at Pinckneyville. The
remaining witnesses are employed at Cook County Jail, the
Northern Reception and Classification Center, and Dixon, all
within the Northern District. The Court finds that any of
these 10 remaining witnesses deemed necessary to this case
could be offered to the jury via deposition. As such, the
Court finds that the Southern ...