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Hines v. Energy XXI Services, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division

May 16, 2017

JERMAINE HINES Plaintiff,
v.
ENERGY XXI SERVICES, LLC, ENERGY XXI GOM, LLC, ENERGY XXI HOLDINGS, INC. AND IOS/PCI, LLC D/B/A INSPECTION OILFIELD SERVICES Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE

          George C Hanks Jr. United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, Jermaine Hines, filed this lawsuit on September 22, 2016, to recover for injuries sustained while he was working on an offshore platform. Hines is a resident of Louisiana. Hines alleges that each of the Defendants have their principal place of business within the Southern District of Texas. Hines alleges that he “sustained serious injuries to his back, neck, and other parts of his body when he was required to operate heavy equipment that was owned and maintained by the Defendants, ” and contends that the Defendants were negligent for, among other things, failing to train and supervise crew and employees, failing to provide safety equipment, failing to provide a safe work environment, instructing crew members to perform their jobs in an unsafe manner, failing to provide adequate lifting assistance, and failing to maintain the platform.

         Defendants Energy XXI GOM, LLC, Energy XXI Holdings, Inc., and Energy XXI Services, LLC (collectively, “the Energy Defendants”) have filed a motion to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Dkt. 29.

         The Energy Defendants allege that transfer of this case is warranted because Houston is a clearly more convenient venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Hines is opposed to the transfer.

         STANDARD FOR CONVENIENCE TRANSFERS

         28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) allows a district court to transfer a civil action “for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice ... to any other district or division where it might have been brought.” The statute is intended to save “time, energy, and money while at the same time protecting litigants, witnesses, and the public against unnecessary inconvenience.” Republic Capital Dev. Grp., L.L.C. v. A.G. Dev. Grp., Inc., No. H-05-1714, 2005 WL 3465728, at *8 (S.D. Tex. Dec. 19, 2005). Motions to transfer venue under § 1404(a) are committed to the sound discretion of the district court. Jarvis Christian College v. Exxon Corp., 845 F.2d 523, 528 (5th Cir. 1988). The party seeking transfer has the burden of showing good cause for the transfer. In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (en banc). The burden on the movant is “significant, ” and for a transfer to be granted, the transferee venue must be “clearly more convenient than the venue chosen by the plaintiff.” Id.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Could this lawsuit have been filed in Houston?

         A threshold question for a district court considering a motion to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) is whether the suit could have been filed in movant's desired transfer venue. In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir. 2004); see also Wells v. Abe's Boat Rentals Inc., No. CIV.A. H-13-1112, 2014 WL 29590, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 3, 2014).

         The parties do not dispute that venue would be proper in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, and the Court finds that this lawsuit indeed could have been brought there originally.

         B. Balancing of Private and Public Factors

         Next, the Court must determine whether on balance the transfer would serve “the convenience of parties and witnesses” and “the interest of justice” under 28 U.S.C. §1404(a) by weighing a number of private and public interest factors. In re Volkswagen Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008). The private concerns include: (1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses; (3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. The public concerns include: (1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; (2) the local interest in having localized interests decided at home; (3) the familiarity of the forum with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws of the application of foreign law. Id. No one single factor is given dispositive weight. See Wells, 2014 WL 29590 at *1 (quoting Action Indus., Inc. v. U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Co., 258 F.3d 337, 340 (5th Cir. 2004)). The Court analyzes these factors below.

         1. Private Interest Factors

         The Court first considers the private interest factors: relative ease of access to sources of proof; the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses; the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and all other ...


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