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Rodriguez v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

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

June 1, 2017

SAYDE RODRIGUEZ AND MARIA DIAZ, Plaintiffs,
v.
TYSON FOODS, INC. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE

          George C. Hanks Jr. United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs, Sayde Rodriguez and Maria Diaz, filed this lawsuit on October 31, 2016, alleging that they sustained physical injuries while they were employed by Defendant Tyson Foods at its manufacturing facility at 300 Portwall St. in Houston, Texas.

         Plaintiffs contend that Tyson was negligent for, among other things, failing to warn them of a hazardous or known dangerous condition in the facility, failing to provide them with safe working conditions in the facility, failing to remedy a known dangerous condition, failing to adequately train their personnel in workplace safety, failing to provide adequate supervision in the workplace, and failing to provide proper supervision over Plaintiffs' work area.

         Tyson has filed a motion to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Dkt. 13. Although Plaintiffs indicated that they were opposed to the transfer, the deadline for a response has passed without a response being filed by Plaintiffs.

         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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