United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is the consent motion to transfer venue to the
United States District Court for the Northern District of
Georgia, Atlanta Division ("Northern District"),
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404. (Consent Mot. to Transfer,
Doc. 61.) Although the motion was filed on October 19, 2018,
as a consent motion, not all defendants had appeared in the
case at that time. In the motion to transfer, the consenting
parties acknowledged that Defendant Kent Plowman would not
consent to the transfer. (Id. ¶ 22.)
the date of this Order, eighteen of the twenty-four initial
defendants have answered Plaintiff's
complaint.Therefore, those parties wishing to oppose
the motion to transfer were provided adequate time. For the
reasons set forth herein, the consent motion to transfer
venue is GRANTED.
filed the present action on August 27, 2018, to determine
coverage obligations for a single-vehicle accident that
occurred on April 5, 2018, within the Southern District of
Georgia ("Southern District") in Columbia County.
(Compl., Doc. 1, ¶ 28.) On October 19, 2018, Plaintiff
along with thirteen defendants filed the present consent
motion to transfer venue. (See generally Consent
Mot. to Transfer.)
support of the consent motion to transfer, the movants assert
that the transfer is in the interest of all parties in terms
of convenience to the witnesses, judicial economy, and
expense of litigation. (Consent Mot. to Transfer,
¶¶ 11, 17.) Specifically, according to the movants,
all in-state attorneys are located in the Northern District
(id. ¶¶ 2, 5), the named insureds are
domiciled in the Northern District (id. ¶ 3),
all Georgia defendants involved in the accident reside in the
Northern District (id. ¶ 4), the insurance
policies in question were delivered to the Northern District
(id. ¶¶ 3, 18), and the Northern District
is the most convenient forum for key expert witnesses
(id. ¶ 20).
date, Defendant Kent Plowman is the only party to oppose the
consent motion to transfer. (Def. Plowman's Resp.
Opp'n Consent Mot. to Transfer, Doc. 82.) His response
primarily focuses on two arguments: (1) Plaintiff's
choice of forum should prevail, and (2) Many of the first
responders, medical personnel, and investigators are located
in or near Augusta, Georgia. (Id. at 3-7.) The Court
analyzes the Parties' competing positions herein.
is governed by the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. §
1391, special venue statutes, and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1404
and 1406, which address improper venue and change of
venue." Peterson v. Smith, No. CV 113-119, 2013
WL 12156416, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 9, 2013) (citation
omitted). A party may request a venue change when: "(1)
venue is improper, so a court must then dismiss or transfer
the case under section 1406; or (2) venue is proper, but the
court should apply section 1404 to transfer the case to
another district on convenience grounds.''
Id. Here, the motion seeks transfer on convenience
grounds, and the Parties do not dispute that venue is proper
in the Southern District. Therefore, the present motion
implicates section 1404.
1404 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." 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a). Interpreting section 1404(a), courts in the Eleventh
Circuit employ a two-pronged inquiry. See Dial HP, Inc.
v. Clearone Commo'ns, Inc., No. CV 109-100, 2010 WL
3732115, at *5 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 7, 2010) (citation omitted).
"First, the alternative venue must be one in which the
action could originally have been brought by the plaintiff.
The second prong requires courts to balance private and
public factors to determine if transfer is justified."
Id. (citation omitted). The private and public
factors a district court must weigh under the second prong
(1) the convenience of the witnesses; (2) the location of
relevant documents and the relative ease of access to sources
of proof; (3) the convenience of the parties; (4) the locus
of operative facts; (5) the availability of process to compel
attendance of unwilling witnesses; (6) the relative means of
the parties; (7) a forum's familiarity with the governing
law; (8) the weight accorded a plaintiff's choice of
forum; and (9) trial efficiency and the interests of justice,
based on the totality of the circumstances.
Manuel v. Convergys Corp., 430 F.3d 1132, 1135 n.l
(11th Cir. 2005) .
determining whether transfer is proper, "[s]ection
1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the district court
to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an
individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and
fairness." Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp.,
487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). Accordingly, district courts are "permitted a
broad discretion in weighing the conflicting ...