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Potter v. Cardinal Health 200, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division

May 15, 2019

DAVID POTTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CARDINAL HEALTH 200, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          RODNEY GILSTRAP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Cardinal Health 200, LLC's ("Cardinal Health") Section 1404(a)&(b) Motion to Transfer Venue (the "Motion"). (Dkt. No. 11.) The Motion seeks an intra-district transfer from the Marshall Division to the Tyler Division. Having considered the parties' briefing and the relevant case law, the Court is of the opinion that the Motion should be and hereby is GRANTED to the extent discussed herein.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff David Potter ("Potter"), who is currently 70 years old, was employed as a mold maker at Cardinal Health's facility in Jacksonville, TX. (Dkt. No. 20 ¶¶ 7, 11, 12.) Cardinal Health terminated Potter's employment on August 31, 2018. (Id. ¶¶ 34, 42.)

         Potter alleges that Cardinal Health violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., by terminating his employment based on his age. (Id. ¶ 1.) Additionally, Potter alleges that Cardinal Health violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") by "fail[ing] to pay him ... for continuous workday activities which are integral and indispensable to [Cardinal Health's] principal activities." (Id. ¶ 4.) Potter seeks, inter alia, unpaid overtime wages for such violation. (Id.) Potter also alleges that Cardinal Health retaliated against him in violation of 28 U.S.C. §§ 215(a)(3) and 216(b) of the FLSA. (Id.) II. Legal Standard Section 1404(a) provides that "[f]or 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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). This inquiry "appl[ies] as much to transfers between divisions of the same district as to transfers from one district to another." In re Radmax, Ltd., 720 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2013) (internal citation omitted).

         In determining whether to transfer venue, the court must first determine "whether the judicial district [or division] to which transfer is sought would have been a district [or division] in which the claim could have been filed." In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir. 2004) (“Volkswagen I”). Civil actions under the ADEA and the FLSA may be brought in "a judicial district (1) in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located; (2) in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or (3) in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action." 28. U.S.C. § 1391(b); see also Tucker v. U.S. Dep 't of Army, 42 F.3d 641 (5th Cir. 1994) (applying § 1391 in ADEA case); Owens v. Neovia Logistics LLC, No. 4:17-cv-107-ALM, 2017 WL 2813996 at *2 (E.D. Tex. June 29, 2017) (applying § 1391 in FLSA case).

         Once this threshold inquiry is met, the court analyzes public and private factors relating to the convenience of parties and witnesses as well as the interests of particular venues in hearing the case. Volkswagen I, 371 F.3d at 203. The private 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." Volkswagen I, 371 F.3d at 203 (internal citation omitted). The public factors 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 of the application of foreign law." Id. These factors are decided based on "the situation which existed when suit was instituted." Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 343 (1960). Though the private and public factors apply to most transfer cases, "they are not necessarily exhaustive or exclusive," and no single factor is dispositive. In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 314- 15 (5th Cir. 2008) ("Volkswagen IF).

         To prevail on a motion to transfer under § 1404(a), the movant must show that transfer is "clearly more convenient" than the venue chosen by the plaintiff. Id. at 315. Absent such a showing, the plaintiffs choice of venue is to be respected. Id. When deciding a motion to transfer under § 1404(a), the court may consider undisputed facts outside of the pleadings such as affidavits or declarations, but it must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve factual conflicts in favor of the non-moving party. See Sleepy Lagoon, Ltd., v. Tower Grp., Inc., 809 F.Supp.2d 1300, 1306 (N.D. Okla. 2011); see also Cooper v. Farmers New Century Ins. Co., 593 F.Supp.2d 14, 18-19 (D.D.C. 2008).

         "[P]laintiffs are ordinarily allowed to select whatever forum they consider most advantageous (consistent with jurisdictional and venue limitations), [and the Supreme Court has] termed their selection 'the plaintiffs venue privilege.'" Ail. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for W. Dist. of Tex., 571 U.S. 49, 63 (2013) (citing Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 635 (1964)). In the Fifth Circuit, the plaintiffs "venue privilege" has been seen as contributing to the defendant's elevated burden of proving that the transferee venue is "clearly more convenient" than the transferor venue. See Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315; accord In re Genentech, Inc., 566 F.3d 1338, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (applying Fifth Circuit law); In re TS Tech USA Corp., 551 F.3d 1315, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (same). However, "the traditional deference given to plaintiffs choice of forum ... is less" for intra-district transfers. Radmax, 720 F.3d at 289 (2013); see also Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 313 (explaining that "while a plaintiff has the privilege of filing his claims in any judicial division appropriate under the general venue statute, § 1404(a) tempers the effects of the exercise of this privilege").

         III. Discussion

         The preliminary inquiry in the § 1404(a) analysis is whether this lawsuit could have been brought in the division to which the movant seeks a transfer. VolkswagenI, 371 F.3d at 203. Here, the parties do not dispute that suit could have been brought in the Tyler Division. Accordingly, the Court finds this preliminary inquiry satisfied. The Court now proceeds to analyze the private and public factors considered in determining whether transfer pursuant to § 1404(a) is appropriate.

         A. Private Interest Factors

         1.Relative Ease of Access to Sources of Proof

         When considering the relative ease of access to sources of proof, a court looks to where documentary evidence, such as documents and physical evidence, are stored. Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 316. For this factor to weigh in favor of transfer, Cardinal Health must show that transfer to the Tyler Division will result in clearly more convenient access to sources of proof. See Diem LLC v. BigCommerce, Inc., No. 6:17-cv-186, 2017 WL 6279907 at *2 (E.D. Tex. Dec. 28, 2017).

         Cardinal Health argues that since the "facility where Potter worked is in Jacksonville, Texas (74 miles from Marshall; 29 miles from Tyler)," "[d]ocuments and information relevant to Potter's employment with Cardinal Health are in Jacksonville." (Dkt. No. 11 at 2 (citing Dkt. No. 11-1 (Declaration of Timothy Scott Martin on behalf of ...


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