United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
LUCINDA VINE and KRISTY POND, on behalf themselves and for all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
PLS FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., and PLS LOAN STORE OF TEXAS, INC., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER TRANSFERRING TO THE
SHERMAN DIVISION OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
R. MARTINEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
day, the Court considered Plaintiffs Kristy Pond and Lucinda
Vine's [hereinafter "Plaintiffs"]
"Response to the Court's Order to Show Cause"
(ECF No. 100), filed on May 25, 2018, and Defendants PLS
Financial Services, Inc. and PLS Loan Store of Texas,
Inc.'s [hereinafter "Defendants"]
"Response to Court's Show Cause Order" (ECF No.
101), filed on May 25, 2018, in the above-captioned cause.
After due consideration, the Court is of the opinion that
this cause should be transferred to the Sherman Division of
the Eastern District of Texas pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a), for the reasons that follow.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case concerns Plaintiffs' allegations that Defendants
engaged in unlawful practices in attempting to collect on
payday loans that Plaintiffs had received. Specifically,
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants submitted false affidavits
to the Collin County District Attorney ("DA")
claiming that Plaintiffs had committed theft by check against
Defendants when, in fact, they had not. The DA then sent
letters to Plaintiffs threatening arrest and imprisonment if
Defendants did not make restitution payments to the DA. As a
result of receiving these letters. Plaintiffs allegedly paid
additional fines and fees that they did not agree to pay when
taking out their loans.
Plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of themselves and other
similarly situated individuals in El Paso County Court at Law
Number Seven on December 17, 2015. Not. Removal Ex. A, Jan.
26, 2016, ECF No. 1. On January 26, 2016, Defendants removed
this case to federal court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. Id. In their Notice of Removal,
Defendants indicated that although venue was proper in this
Court due to the location of the State proceeding, Defendants
intended to seek a transfer to another district "in
which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the alleged claims asserted occurred."
Id. They never moved for such a transfer. In
Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, they claim that venue is
proper in the El Paso Division of the Western District of
Texas because a "substantial part of the events or
omissions giving to rise [sic] to the claims asserted herein
occurred in El Paso County, Texas." Am. Compl., Mar. 11,
2016, ECF No. 17.
Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint in March 2016, there
has been extensive litigation in this matter, including two
orders on dispositive motions and an interlocutory appeal.
However, the case has not yet proceeded to formal discovery,
and Plaintiffs' "Motion for Class
Certification" (ECF No. 71), filed September 12, 2017,
is still pending. While the Motion for Class Certification
was under consideration, the Court inquired at a May 15,
2018, status conference as to why this case is being
litigated in El Paso. Plaintiffs' counsel Daniel Dutko
indicated that while he initially believed potential class
members were located in El Paso, he no longer so believes.
Further, Mr. Dutko confirmed that the named Plaintiffs do not
live in El Paso and that little or no effort has been made to
find out whether the conduct at issue in this case has any
relationship to El Paso.
on these revelations, the Court ordered the parties to show
cause as to why this case should not be transferred to the
Eastern District of Texas. Specifically, it ordered the
parties to explain why El Paso was a preferable or more
convenient venue for this case than the Sherman Division of
the Eastern District of Texas, where Collin County is located
and where the alleged misconduct occurred. Unsurprisingly,
Defendants did not object to the proposed transfer, and
Plaintiffs stressed that a transfer would cause prejudice and
would not promote judicial economy. However, Plaintiffs
further stated that if the Court were to rule on its motion
for class certification, they would drop any objections to a
transfer. After due consideration, the Court will decline to
rule on the motion for class certification and transfer the
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). District
courts have "broad discretion in deciding whether to
order a transfer" pursuant to § 1404(a).
Balawajder v, Scott, 160 F.3d 1066, 1067 (5th Cir.
1998) (quoting Caldwell v. Palmetto State Sau. Bank,
811 F, 2d 916, 919 (5th Cir. 1987)). District courts may
transfer cases upon motion or sua sponte. Nelson v.
Lewis No. CIV.A. 1:07-CV-135, 2007 WL 869571, at *1
(E.D. Tex. Mar. 21, 2007) (citing Mills v. Beech Aircraft
Corp., Inc., 886 F.2d 758, 761 (5th Cir. 1989));
accord Caldwell 811 F.2d at 919 ("Under the
transfer statute, a district court may transfer a case upon a
motion or sua sponte.").
threshold question in applying the provisions of §
1404(a) is whether the suit could have been brought in the
proposed transferee district." In re Volkswagen AG
(Volkswagen I), 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir. 2004). If
the answer to that question is yes, then a court must
consider a variety of public and private interest factors to
determine whether the proposed new forum is "clearly
more convenient." Id., The private interest
factors are: "(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." In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc.,
545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Volkswagen
I, 371 F.3d at 203). The public interest factors that
courts consider are:
(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 [or in] the
application of foreign law.
Id. (alteration in original) (quoting
Volkswagen /, 371 F.3d at 203). These factors,
although appropriate in most cases, "are not necessarily
exhaustive or exclusive." Id., Moreover, none
of the factors "can be said to be of dispositive
weight." Id. (quoting Action Indus., Inc. v. U.S.
Fid. & Guar. Corp., 358 F.3d 337, 340 (5th Cir.
Whether Plaintiffs Could Have Brought Suit in the ...