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PACKER v. KAISER FOUND. HEALTH PLAN OF THE MID-ATL

December 29, 1989

RUTH M. PACKER, and JAMES C. PACKER, Plaintiffs,
v.
KAISER FOUNDATION HEALTH PLAN OF THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES, INC., et al., Defendants


Stanley S. Harris, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRIS

This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Upon consideration of the motion, plaintiffs' opposition thereto, and the entire record herein, the Court concludes that defendants' motion should be granted.

 Background

 This is an action alleging medical malpractice. Plaintiffs contend that Andris Neimanis, M.D., a physician employed by defendant Capital Area Permanente Medical Group ("CAPMG"), negligently failed to diagnose as cancer a "lesion" on plaintiff Ruth Packer's left ankle. *fn1" Defendant Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States ("Kaiser") is a health care provider and health maintenance organization. CAPMG is a professional corporation of physicians which furnishes Kaiser with physicians who render medical care and treatment to its subscribers and members.

 Plaintiffs reside in Fairfax, Virginia. Mrs. Packer is employed in Fairfax, Virginia, and obtained her health care coverage with Kaiser through her employer. She has designated Kaiser's Falls Church, Virginia, medical center as her primary care facility. Plaintiffs allege negligence on the part of Dr. Neimanis, who resides in Maryland and is licensed in Virginia. The alleged negligence occurred in Virginia, and the pertinent medical records are located in Virginia.

 Defendants Kaiser and CAPMG are incorporated in the District of Columbia and maintain their corporate offices there. Both are licensed to do business in Virginia and, in fact, do substantial business in Virginia. The expert witnesses whom plaintiffs have retained to testify at trial maintain their offices in the District of Columbia. With the exception of Dr. Neimanis, all other potential witnesses reside in either the District of Columbia or Virginia.

 On August 23, 1988, plaintiffs served a notice of plaintiff Ruth Packer's claim on Dr. Neimanis, pursuant to the Medical Malpractice Act of Virginia, 2 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-581.2. Defendants then requested review by a medical malpractice review panel designated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. A hearing was held on August 29, 1989, and the panel, consisting of two attorneys and two physicians, ultimately found that the medical care provided did not fall below the relevant standard. Plaintiffs filed this action on September 7, 1989.

 Discussion

 Defendants have moved to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The statute 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.

 This subsection permits the transfer of a case to a more convenient forum, even where, as here, venue would be proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391. To determine whether such a transfer is justified under the broadly worded § 1404(a), the Court must examine the particular facts of the case, Starnes v. McGuire, 168 U.S. App. D.C. 4, 512 F.2d 918, 925 (D.C.Cir. 1974), and exercise its discretion. Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 32, 99 L. Ed. 789, 75 S. Ct. 544 (1955).

 Clearly this case "might have been brought" in the Eastern District of Virginia, since for venue purposes, both plaintiffs reside in Fairfax, Virginia, and plaintiffs' claims arose in Virginia. *fn2" The Court does not deny, however, that the parties and witnesses will not be "particularly convenienced" by a move to Alexandria. See Schleier v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., 277 U.S. App. D.C. 415, 876 F.2d 174, 177 (D.C.Cir. 1989). Neither, though, will they be inconvenienced by such a transfer. Furthermore, other factors strongly warrant transferring the case "in the interest of justice" and justify disturbing the plaintiffs' choice of forum. *fn3"

 The only connection this case has to this District is that Kaiser and CAPMG are incorporated in, and maintain their corporate offices in, the District of Columbia. Thus, while the District of Columbia has some interest in the outcome of the case, that interest does not match the substantial interest of Virginia. Plaintiffs live in Virginia, plaintiff Ruth Packer enrolled in her health plan through her Virginia employer, and her chosen primary care facility is located in Virginia. The alleged negligence occurred in Virginia, the pertinent medical records are located in Virginia, defendants do substantial business in Virginia, and Dr. Neimanis is licensed in Virginia. Furthermore, contrary to plaintiffs' assertions, the Court concludes that Virginia law will govern this case, even if it were to remain in this District.

 In compliance with District of Columbia choice-of-law rules, the Court must apply a "governmental interests" analysis to determine whether District of Columbia or Virginia law will apply. Kaiser-Georgetown Community v. Stutsman, 491 A.2d 502, 509 (D.C. 1985) (" Stutsman I "). This requires the Court to "evaluate the governmental policies underlying the applicable conflicting laws and to determine which jurisdiction's policy would be most advanced by having its law applied to the facts of the case under review." Williams v. Williams, 390 A.2d 4, 5-6 (D.C. 1978) (footnote omitted). When both jurisdictions have an interest in applying their own laws, a true conflict is present, and the Court will apply the law of the state with the stronger interest. Biscoe v. Arlington County, 238 U.S. App. D.C. 206, 738 F.2d 1352, 1360 (D.C. Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1159, 83 L. Ed. 2d 923, 105 S. Ct. 909 (1985). The Court concludes that in this case not only does the interest of ...


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