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Clarendon National Insurance Co. v. Glickauf

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 23, 2019

CLARENDON NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY as successor by way of a merger with Sussex Insurance Company f/k/a Companion Property & Casualty Insurance Company, and Companion Specialty Insurance Company, Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHANIE GLICKAUF, ROBERT M. DARROCH, and GOODMAN MCGUFFEY, LLP, Defendants.

          ORDER AFFIRMING ORDER OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE NINA Y. WANG AND OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION

          CHRISTINE M. ARGU LLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on review of the Order by United States Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang (Doc. # 71), wherein she granted Defendants Stephanie Glickauf, Robert M. Darroch, and Goodman McGuffey, LLP's (collectively, “Defendants”) Motion to Transfer Venue (Doc. # 36). On May 15, 2019, Plaintiff Clarendon National Insurance Company filed an Objection to the Order. (Doc. # 73.) On May 20, 2019, Defendants responded to Plaintiff's Objection. (Doc. # 74.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's objections are OVERRULED and the Magistrate Judge's Order is AFFIRMED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Magistrate Judge Wang provided a thorough recitation of the factual and procedural background in this legal malpractice case in her Order on Motion to Transfer. (Doc. # 71.) The Order is incorporated herein by reference, see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), and the facts will be repeated only to the extent necessary to address Plaintiff's objections.

         A. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff is an Illinois insurance company that issues commercial general liability policies to construction professionals in various states, including Colorado. (Doc. # 1 at 1, 5.) Defendants are two attorneys and their law firm, with a primary place of business in the State of Georgia, which Plaintiff retained as its insurance counsel. (Id. at 3.) None of the parties are Colorado residents.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants breached their duty to Plaintiff in two ways. First, Plaintiff claims that Defendants provided incorrect coverage advice upon which Plaintiff relied to deny coverage to its policyholders. (Id. at 5.) Second, Plaintiff claims that Defendants failed to properly identify insurance coverage defenses. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, these breaches of duty caused Plaintiff to settle a Colorado lawsuit on behalf of its policyholder for an amount of money that was much more than necessary and to be named as a defendant in multiple Colorado lawsuits. (Id.) However, none of the Defendants' legal advice was rendered from Colorado. (Doc. # 71 at 11.)

         On October 4, 2018, Plaintiff initiated this civil action (Doc. # 1), and on January 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, alleging two causes of action (Doc. # 49). First, Plaintiff claims that Defendants were negligent as to their professional duties and committed legal malpractice. (Id. at 20-22.) Second, Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated the Consumer Protection Act (“CCPA”) by knowingly making false representations and engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices. (Id. at 22-30.)

         On January 7, 2019, Defendants moved to transfer this action to United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391 and 1406. (Doc. # 36.) Defendants contend that venue in the District of Colorado is improper because Defendants' alleged negligence, legal malpractice, and CCPA claims would have occurred in the course of their legal representation of Plaintiffs at their law office in Atlanta, Georgia. (Id. at 10.) On January 8, 2019, this Court referred Defendants' Motion to Transfer to Magistrate Judge Wang for disposition. (Doc. # 37.)

         B. THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER

         Magistrate Judge Wang granted Defendants' Motion to Transfer on May 1, 2019. (Doc. # 71.) After observing that “at the core of this action are Plaintiff's allegations that it reasonably and detrimentally relied upon Defendants' coverage evaluation and legal advice[, ]” the Magistrate Judge concluded that Plaintiff's legal analysis substantially occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. (Id. at 15.) She then determined that venue in the District of Colorado was improper, and therefore, the case could not be tried in this jurisdiction. As a result, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), the Magistrate Judge transferred this case to the appropriate venue. (Id. at 19.)

         On May 15, 2019, Plaintiff timely objected to the Magistrate Judge's Order transferring this case. (Doc. # 73.) Therein, Plaintiff first argues that Magistrate Judge Wang should have issued a recommendation, not an order. (Id. at 2.) Second, Plaintiff disputes the Magistrate Judge's determination that venue was improper. (Id. at 4.) On May 20, 2019, Defendants filed their response to Plaintiff's Objection. (Doc. # 74.) For the following reasons, the Court affirms Magistrate Judge Wang's Order and overrules Plaintiff's Objection.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a magistrate judge issues an order on a nondispositive pretrial matter, “[t]he district judge in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a) (emphasis added). Under the clearly erroneous standard, “the reviewing court [must] affirm unless it ‘on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.'” Ocelot Oil Corp. v. Sparrow Indus., 847 F.2d 1458, 1464 (10th Cir. 1988) (quoting United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)); Allen v. Sybase, Inc., 468 F.3d 642, 658 (10th Cir. 2006). The “‘clearly erroneous' standard is ‘significantly deferential.'” Chung v. Lamb et. al., No. 14-cv-03244-WYD-KLM, 2018 WL 7141423, at * 1 (D. Colo. Jan. 3, 2018) (quoting United States v. Gallegos, 314 F.3d 456, 462 n.3 (10th Cir. 2002)). ...


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