United States District Court, D. Colorado
JEFFREY R. EVANS, Plaintiff,
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1404(A)
WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ, Judge.
Plaintiff Jeffrey R. Evans ("Plaintiff") brings this action against his employer, Defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company ("Defendant"), under the provisions of the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), 35 U.S.C. §§ 51 et seq., to recover damages for spinal injuries suffered while working in the course and scope of his employment for Defendant. (ECF No. 1.) Before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the District Court for the District of Wyoming sitting in Cheyenne (the "Motion"). (ECF No. 8.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue is denied.
Plaintiff is a locomotive conductor who has worked for Defendant, a common carrier engaged in interstate transportation, for over thirty years. (Compl. (ECF No. 1) ¶ 5; Resp. (ECF No. 13) at 3.) Plaintiff worked a rail line that runs between Cheyenne, Wyoming and North Platte, Nebraska, and crosses into Colorado for nine miles on every trip. (Resp. at 3; ECF No. 14-1; Reply (ECF No. 14) at 2.)
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 1, 2013, alleging that he suffered personal injuries to his spine as a result of exposure to severe lateral shocks and jolts in the cab of one of Defendant's locomotives on December 5, 2012. (Compl. ¶ 6.) The injury occurred when Plaintiff was operating the locomotive in Wyoming. (ECF No. 8-1.) Plaintiff also alleges that he has suffered personal injuries after being subjected to repetitive and cumulative trauma due to Defendant's negligence. (Compl. ¶ 7; Resp. at 3; ECF No. 14-1.) Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for Defendant's alleged FELA violations. ( Id. )
On October 11, 2013, Defendant filed a Motion to Transfer Venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the District Court for the District of Wyoming sitting in Cheyenne. (Motion (ECF No. 8.)) Plaintiff filed his Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion on October 31, 2013 (ECF No. 13), and Defendant filed its Reply on November 12, 2013 (ECF No. 14).
This Motion is now ripe for resolution.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Under FELA, venue is proper "in the district of the residence of the defendant, or in which the cause of action arose, or in which the defendant shall be doing business at the time of commencing such action." 45 U.S.C. § 56. In this case, it is undisputed that Defendant does business in both Colorado and Wyoming and, therefore, venue is proper under FELA in both states. Notwithstanding FELA's broad venue provision, however, cases brought under FELA may still be transferred pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). See Ex parte Collett, 337 U.S. 55, 60-61 (1949).
"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 party seeking to transfer a case pursuant to § 1404(a) bears the burden of establishing that the existing forum is inconvenient. See Chrysler Credit Corp. v. Cnty. Chrysler, Inc., 928 F.2d 1509, 1515 (10th Cir. 1991).
In ruling on a motion to transfer venue, district courts must assess whether the "competing equities" weigh in favor of adjudicating the case in that district. See Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 790 F.2d 69, 71 (10th Cir. 1986). The competing equities include the following factors:
(1) plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the accessibility of witnesses and other sources of proof, including the availability of compulsory process to insure attendance of witnesses; (3) the cost of making the necessary proof; (4) questions as to the enforceability of a judgment if one is obtained; (5) relative advantages and obstacles to a fair trial; (6) difficulties that may arise from congested dockets; (7) the possibility of the existence of questions arising in the area of conflict of laws; (8) the advantage of having a local court determine questions of local law; and (9) all other considerations of a practical nature that make a trial easy, expeditious and economical.
Chrysler Credit Corp., 928 F.2d at 1516 (quoting Texas Gulf Sulphur Co. v. Ritter, 371 F.2d 145, 147 (10th Cir. 1967)). The decision to transfer venue, however, lies in the sole discretion of the district court and should be based on an "individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness." Texas E. Transmission Corp. v. Marine Office-Appleton & Cox Corp., 579 F.2d 561, 567 (10th Cir. 1978); Stewart Org. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988). "Unless the balance of the inconvenience is strongly in favor of the ...