United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division
MITCHELL MODISETT, JEFF WILLOUGHBY, GLEN FORD, JEFF GADDIS, WILLIAM MCDONALD, FRED MARSHALL, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiffs,
DELEK REFINING, LTD., Defendant.
PAYNE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a collective action filed by six named Plaintiffs
(“Plaintiffs”) against Defendant Delek Refining,
Ltd. (“Delek”) under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), seeking to
represent all other similarly situated past and present
employees … who have not been paid their wages and
overtime wages for all time worked in excess of 40 hours per
workweek.” Coll. Act. Compl., (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 2).
In their Complaint, Plaintiffs “seek to represent
similarly situated current or former employees … at
the Delek refineries located in Tyler, Texas, Big Spring,
Texas, El Dorado, Arkansas, and Krotz Springs, Louisiana.
(Id. at ¶ 5).
points out that in Plaintiffs' motion for notice to
potential plaintiffs (Dkt. No. 17), Plaintiffs now only seek
to represent current or former employees at the Delek
refinery located in Tyler. (Dkt. No. 24 at 3). Because all
the events, parties, witnesses, documents, and physical
evidence are located in the Tyler Division, Delek moves to
transfer venue from the Marshall Division to the Tyler
Division of the Eastern District of Texas pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Id.). This argument
overlooks the rule that transfer motions are decided on the
basis of the facts and record as it stood at the time the
lawsuit was filed. This case has not been limited to only
employees of the Defendant's Tyler refinery.
venue statute permits a district court to transfer a case to
another district or division “[f]or the convenience of
parties and witnesses” and “in the interests of
justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The preliminary
question under § 1404(a) is whether the case
“might have been brought” in the destination
venue. In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304,
312 (5th Cir. 2008) (“Volkswagen II”);
In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir.
2004) (“Volkswagen I”). The parties do
not dispute that the case could have been brought in either
the Tyler Division or the Marshall Division of the Eastern
District of Texas.
Defendants' Good Cause Burden
the court resolves the preliminary jurisdiction question, the
movant must meet its “good cause”
burden. Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315 (emphasis
added). The movant meets its good cause burden by
demonstrating that the transferee venue is clearly more
convenient than the venue chosen by the plaintiff.
Id. “[W]hen the transferee venue is not
clearly more convenient than the venue chosen by the
plaintiff, the plaintiff's choice should be
respected.” Id. The good cause burden
“reflects the appropriate deference to which the
plaintiff's choice of venue is entitled.”
determination of ‘convenience' turns on a number of
private and public interest factors, none of which are given
dispositive weight.” Volkswagen I, 371 F.3d at
203 (quoting § 1404(a)). Although these factors
“are appropriate for most transfer cases, they are not
necessarily exhaustive or exclusive.” Volkswagen
II, 545 F.3d at 315. Unless the balance of factors is
strongly in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff's
choice in forum should be respected. Gulf Oil Corp. v.
Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508 (1947). The private and
public interest factors apply 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). Ultimately, it is within a district
court's sound discretion to transfer venue under §
1404(a), but the court must exercise its discretion in light
of the particular circumstances of the case. Hanby v.
Shell Oil Co., 144 F.Supp.2d 673, 676 (E.D. Tex. 2001).
Private Interest Factors
private factors 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.” Volkswagen II,
545 F.3d at 315 (citing Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno,
454 U.S. 235, 241 n.6 (1981)).
Sources of Proof
this factor to weigh in favor of transfer, the movant must
demonstrate that transfer will result in more convenient
access to sources of proof. Remmers v. United
States, No. CIV. A. 1:09-CV-345, 2009 WL 3617597, at *4
(E.D. Tex. Oct. 28, 2009). Courts analyze this factor in
light of the distance that documents, or other evidence, must
be transported from their existing location to the trial
venue. Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Activision Blizzard,
Inc., No. 6:13-CV-256, 2014 WL 11609813, at *2 (E.D.
Tex. July 16, 2014) (citing Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d
at 316) (noting that this factor is still relevant even if
documents are stored electronically). This factor turns upon
which party “most probably [has] the greater volume of
documents relevant to the litigation and their presumed
location in relation to the transferee and transferor
venues.” Id. (citing In re Nintendo
Co., 589 F.3d 1194, 1199 (Fed. Cir. 2009); In re
Genentech, Inc., 566 F.3d 1338, 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2009);
and Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 314-15).
“Presumably, the bulk of the discovery material
relating to a corporate party is located at the corporate
headquarters.” Uniloc USA, 2014 WL 11609813,
at *2 (citing In re Acer Am. Corp., 626 F.3d 1252,
1256 (Fed. Cir. 2010)). The moving party must identify
sources of proof with enough specificity that a court can
determine whether transfer will increase the convenience of
the parties. J2 Global Commc'ns, Inc. v. Proctus IP
Solutions, Inc., No. 6:08-CV-211, 2009 WL 440525, at *2
(E.D. Tex. Feb. 20, 2009). That access to some sources of
proof presents a lesser inconvenience now than it might have
absent recent developments does not render this factor
superfluous.” Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 316.
argues that this factor weighs in favor of transfer because
“[a]long with the events and parties, all of the
documents and physical evidence of this case are located in
the Tyler Division.” (Dkt. No. 24 at 7). Delek submits
an affidavit from an HR manager, Haylee James, listing four
employees as ...