United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
GILSTRAP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue or, in
the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue (“the
Motion”) filed by Defendants Carlos Mayea-Chang
(“Mayea-Chang”) and Dayca Transport Services
“Defendants”) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3).
(Dkt. No. 3). Having considered the Motion, and for the
reasons set forth herein, the Court finds the Motion should
be and hereby is DENIED.
Factual and Procedural Background
instant case involves an automotive collision alleged to have
occurred on Interstate 20 at an unspecified location
somewhere within Smith County, Texas. (Dkt. No.
Plaintiff Robert Hammers (“Hammers”) filed the
Complaint on May 21, 2019, alleging various claims of
negligence arising from the collision. (Dkt. No. 1). In the
Complaint, Hammers alleges that venue is proper pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). (Id. at 2 ¶ 4).
April 16, 2019, Defendants filed the present Motion seeking
dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), or, in the
alternative, an intra-district transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1404(a). With respect to both bases for transfer,
Defendants do not dispute that venue is proper in the Eastern
District of Texas, but instead focus primarily on whether the
case should have been brought in the Tyler Division rather
than the Marshall Division.
Venue Is Proper Under 28 U.S.C. § 1391
allege that venue is improper because the appropriate
judicial division is the Tyler Division rather than the
Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas. The
accident which gives rise to this case occurred in the Tyler
Division. (Dkt. No. 3). As noted above, Defendants appear to
concede that the Eastern District of Texas is a proper
judicial district. (Id.) However, Defendants allege
that the Marshall Division is improper.
responds that “Defendants have wholly failed to state
any acceptable basis” for the dismissal. (Dkt. No. 5 at
5). Specifically, Hammers argues that the Marshall Division
is proper for a variety of reasons, including an
uncontroverted assertion that the Marshall Division is more
convenient for both Hammers and Defendants.
Court concludes that the Marshall Division is an appropriate
venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391. This issue presents a
relatively straightforward question of statutory
interpretation. “The task of statutory interpretation
begins and, if possible, ends with the language of the
statute.” United States v. Lauderdale Cty.,
914 F.3d 960, 964 (5th Cir. 2019). “[W]hen decoding
language, judges ‘must be attentive not to words
standing alone but to surrounding structure and other
contextual cues that illuminate meaning.'”
Weaver v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 939 F.3d 618, 626
(5th Cir. 2019). “The meaning of a statutory provision
‘is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory
scheme . . . .'” Ramos-Portillo v. Barr,
919 F.3d 955, 960 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting Util. Air
Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, 573 U.S. 302, 321 (2014)). Thus,
courts “ought to ‘consider the entire text, in
view of its structure and of the physical and logical
relation of its many parts.'” In re Lopez,
897 F.3d 663, 670 n.5 (5th Cir. 2018) (quoting Antonin Scalia
& Bryan A. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of
Legal Texts 167 (2012)).
and foremost, the venue statute which governs this case does
not distinguish between judicial
divisions, and instead is addressed
to only judicial districts.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Specifically, § 1391
provides that a “civil action may be brought in”
one of the following three locations:
(1) a judicial district in which
any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the
State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district 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) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise
be brought as provided in this section, any
judicial district in which any defendant is
subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect
to such action.
Id. (emphasis added). Defendants do not dispute that
this case meets the plain text of § 1391, because the
Eastern District of Texas is “a judicial district in
which a substantial part of the events . . . giving rise to
the claim occurred.” See Id. §
1391(a)(2). Instead, Defendants seek to impose an additional
requirement on the statutory text-a requirement related to
judicial divisions-in an effort to compel transfer from the
Marshall Division to the Tyler Division. Defendants'
argument is both confused and misplaced.
past thirty years, the federal courts have uniformly held
that because § 1391 “does not distinguish between
the divisions of a judicial district, venue properly lies in
any division” of an otherwise-appropriate judicial
district. Griffin v. Tyson Foods, Inc., No.
2:16-cv-734-JRG- RSP, 2017 WL 345926, at *2 (E.D. Tex. Jan.
24, 2017); see also, e.g., Battee v. Ben E.
Keith Co., No. 2:17-cv-00161-JRG-RSP, 2017 WL 1832043,
at *1 (E.D. Tex. May 5, 2017); McKee v. Grantham,
No. 2:16-cv-00184-RSP, 2016 WL 3567038, at *1 (E.D. Tex. July
1, 2016); Walker v. IBEW, No. 2:15-cv-01283-JRG-RSP,
2015 WL 5783802, at *2 (E.D. Tex. Sept. 30, 2015); Monroe
v. Walmart Stores Tex., LLC, No. 2:11-cv-329-JRG, 2012
WL 3887006, at *2 (E.D. Tex. Sept. 6, 2012); Johnson v.
Merchant, 628 F.Supp.2d 695, 696-97 (N.D. Miss. 2009)
(“‘[I]f there is no local rule, venue need be set
only on a district basis, disregarding divisions.”
(citing Jordon v. Bowman Apple Prods. Co., 728
F.Supp. 409 (W.D. Va. 1990))); Crumrine v. NEG Micon USA,
Inc., 104 F.Supp.2d 1123, 1126 (N.D. Iowa 2000)
(“Furthermore, in 1988, Congress repealed the federal
statute that formerly established ‘divisional
venue' in civil cases in federal court, 28 U.S.C. §
1393 . . . When 28 U.S.C. § 1393 was repealed . . . the
concept of divisional venue disappeared.” (quoting
Bishop v. C & P Trucking Co., Inc., 840 F.Supp.
118, 119 (N.D. Ala. 1993) (quotation marks omitted))).
text of § 1391 only imposes restrictions on the judicial
district in which a case may be filed; it does not
impose any restriction on the division within such
district where a case may be filed. See Griffin,
2017 WL 345926, at *2. The statute which previously
imposed a divisional venue requirement, 28 U.S.C. §
1393, was repealed more than thirty years ago in 1988. Thus,
under § 1391, a division is only improper when it falls
within an improper judicial district. Id.
Conversely, § 1391 permits a civil action to be filed in
any division, so long as the division is within a proper
judicial district. Id.
interpretation to the contrary is improper because it would
require engrafting a new divisional requirement onto the text
of § 1391. Cf. Weaver, 939 F.3d at 626
(“[W]e decline to engraft what [Congress] declined to
enact.”). In enacting § 1391, Congress only chose
to impose a district-based venue requirement, not a
divisional requirement. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391.
“[O]ur constitutional structure does not permit this
Court to ‘rewrite the statute that Congress has
enacted.'” Puerto Rico v. Franklin Cal.
Tax-Free Tr., 136 S.Ct. 1938, 1949 (2016) (quoting
Dodd v. United States, 545 U.S. 353, 359 (2005));
see also Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales,
Inc., 139 S.Ct. 524, 528 (2019) (explaining that courts
may not “rewrite” a statute for any reason, even
when there may be substantial policy justifications for doing
Court's interpretation of the plain text of § 1391
is reinforced by the surrounding statutory provisions, which
demonstrate that Congress understood how to include a
divisional restriction on venue when it wished to do so.
See Ramos-Portillo, 919 F.3d at 960 (instructing
courts to look at surrounding provisions). In order to
address a “change of venue” based on litigation
convenience, Congress enacted a separate and distinct
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1404, which provides:
For 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) (emphasis added). By expressly
distinguishing between transfer to another “district
or division, ” Congress designed § 1404
to “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) (emphasis added). Similarly, Congress has
previously enacted a venue statute imposing precisely this
divisional requirement-28 U.S.C. § 1393-which has since
been repealed. See Judicial Improvements and Access
to Justice Act, Pub. L. No. 100-702, § 1001, 102 Stat
4642 (1988). In contrast to these surrounding provisions, a
distinction between divisions and districts is conspicuously
absent from § 1391.
presence of a divisional distinction in § 1404 and
§ 1393 is no less important than the absence of a
divisional distinction in § 1391. See
Ramos-Portillo, 919 F.3d at 960; In re Lopez,
897 F.3d at 670 n.5. “Congress has included” a
divisional restriction in § 1404 and § 1393,
closely-related venue provisions, “clearly
demonstrating that it knows how to impose such a requirement
when it wishes to do so.” Whitfield v. United
States, 543 U.S. 209, 216-17 (2005). “Where
Congress has chosen not to do so, we will not override that
choice . . . .” Id. Since Congress has chosen
not to include a division-based restriction on venue in
§ 1391, this Court will not “engraft what
[Congress] declined to enact.” See Weaver, 939
F.3d at 626. Doing so would actually require the Court to
engraft what Congress has already repealed.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1393. Clearly, § 1391 does
not impose a division-based restriction. Accordingly, the
Court concludes that venue is proper in this division because
it is part of this district, and all Parties agree that venue
is proper in this district.
Transfer for Convenience Is Not Appropriate
alternative basis for relief, Defendants contend that the
Court should transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a), which provides that the court may transfer a case
based on “the convenience of parties and
witnesses” 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).
threshold inquiry when analyzing transfer under §
1404(a) is “whether the judicial district to which
transfer is sought would have been a district in which the
claim could have been filed.” In re Volkswagen
AG, 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir. 2004) [hereinafter
this initial threshold has been met, courts determine whether
the case should be transferred by analyzing various public
and private factors. See Humble Oil & Ref. Co. v.
Bell Marine Serv., Inc., 321 F.2d 53, 56 (5th Cir.
1963). 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 (citing Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S.
235, 241 n.6 (1981)). 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 or in the application of foreign
law. Id. These factors are to be 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) [hereinafter Volkswagen
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, plaintiff's
choice of venue must 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 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); Reilly v. Meffe,
6 F.Supp.3d 760, 765 (S.D. Ohio 2014) (“In resolving
venue questions, courts ‘may examine facts outside the
complaint but must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve
factual conflicts in favor of the plaintiff.'”
(quoting Audi AG & Volkswagen of Am. v. Izumi,
204 F.Supp.2d 1014, 1017 (E.D. Mich. 2002))); 5B Charles A.
Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1352 (3d ed. 2013)
(“A district court may examine facts outside the
complaint to determine whether its venue is proper. And . . .
the court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all
factual conflicts in favor of the plaintiff.”);
accord Trois v. Apple Tree Auction Ctr., Inc., 882
F.3d 485, 492-93 (5th Cir. 2018) (“Venue issues are
generally reviewed for abuse of discretion. . . .
‘[V]iew[ing] all the facts in a light most favorable to
the plaintiff,' Ambraco, Inc. v. Bossclip B.V.,
570 F.3d 233, 237 (5th Cir. 2009), ‘the court is
permitted to look at evidence in the record beyond simply
those facts alleged in the complaint and its proper
attachments.' Id. at 238.”) (alterations
in original). Because the question of convenience is
intensely fact-bound, “[t]here can be no question . . .
that the district courts have ‘broad discretion in
deciding whether to order a transfer.'”
Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 311.
Defendants Have Failed to Adequately Brief This
initial matter, the Court notes that the briefing from both
sides on this issue is exceptionally sparse. The briefing
fails to specify critical factual information that is
necessary to decide the issues presented by the instant
Motion. For example, neither the briefing nor the complaint
identify where the auto-accident specifically
occurred; where Hammers received medical
treatment; from whom Hammers received medical
treatment (let alone where such medical professionals are
located); and which witnesses, other than the Parties, who
will testify at trial.
on the failure to address the relevant facts, the Court finds
that Defendants have substantively failed to carry their
burden to demonstrate that transfer to the Tyler Division is
“clearly more convenient.” Volkswagen
II, 545 F.3d at 315. Though both Parties fail to discuss
many of the operative facts relevant to this Motion, it is
the movant who “is required to identify specific
evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner
in which that evidence supports his or her claim.”
Diaz v. Kaplan Higher Educ., L.L.C., 820 F.3d 172,
176 (5th Cir. 2016). This is because the movant bears the
burden to show a sufficient justification to override the
plaintiff's choice of venue. Volkswagen II, 545
F.3d at 315. When the movant fails to provide the factual
foundation that is necessary to evaluate the relative
convenience of the present and proposed venues, the Court
lacks a basis to conclude that the proposed venue is
“clearly more convenient” than the present venue.
Id. Put another way, if the facts governing
convenience are not clearly set forth, the Court cannot
conclude that the proposed venue is “clearly more
convenient.” Id. Any such unsupported request
to transfer to such proposed venue must be denied.
Federal Circuit, applying Fifth Circuit law, has recognized
that courts may deny a request for transfer when the party
seeking transfer fails to provide specific factual
information which is necessary to evaluate the potential