Maryland that led to his indictment and prosecution there. For instance, the plaintiff mailed his claim form to Transamerica's office in Silver Spring, Maryland. In addition, he personally visited the office in Maryland to facilitate the processing of his claim after the insured's death. Furthermore, the acts that allegedly led to the plaintiffs wrongful prosecution occurred in Maryland. Mr. Kafack completed both the Kemper and Primerica insurance claim forms for proceeds in Maryland. These insurance claim forms contained the alleged misrepresentations that led to Mr. Kafacks's indictment and prosecution. Kemper, Primerica, and Transamerica allegedly made defamatory statements about Mr. Kafack in Maryland to the Maryland Insurance Administrations Anti-Fraud Unit. Lastly, the official investigation of Mr. Kafack's activities was conducted in Maryland, and Maryland was the forum of the alleged malicious prosecution. Most of the events that form the factual predicate for Mr. Kafack's claims occurred in Maryland As a result, Mr. Kafack could have brought the instant action in Maryland.
The court's inquiry proceeds to the issue of whether the case should be transferred based on the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and the interests of justice. In ruling on Section 1404 (a) motions, courts have not, however, limited their consideration to these three enumerated factors but have considered many variants including the private interests of the parties and the public interests of the court, which are protected by the language of Section 1404 (a). Jumara v. State Farm Insurance Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3rd. Cir. 1995); see also Heller Financial, Inc. v. Riverdale Auto Parts, Inc., 713 F. Supp. 1125, 1129 (N.D.Ill. 1989). The private interest considerations include: (1) the plaintiffs choice of forum, unless the balance of convenience is strongly in favor of the defendants;
(2) the defendants' choice of forum;
(3) whether the claim arose elsewhere;
(4) the convenience of the parties;
(5) the convenience of the witnesses of the plaintiff and defendant, but only to the extent that the witnesses may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora;
and (6) the ease of access to sources of proof.
The public interest considerations include (1) the transferee's familiarity with the governing laws;
(2) the relative congestion of the calendars of the potential transferee and transferor courts;
and (3) the local interest in deciding local controversies at home.
These factors, which the court will address in turn, unequivocally support a transfer to the Southern Division for the District of Maryland.
A. Private Considerations
The court must afford some deference to the plaintiffs choice of forum. Air Line Pilots Ass'n, 672 F. Supp. at 526. However, this deference is mitigated where the plaintiffs choice of forum has "no meaningful ties to the controversy and no particular interest in the parties or subject matter." Chung v. Chrysler Corp., 903 F. Supp. 160, 165 (D.D.C. 1995) (quoting Islamic Republic of Iran v. Boeing Co., 477 F. Supp. 142, 143-44 (D.D.C. 1979)). In the case at bar, the plaintiffs choice of forum, the District of Columbia, has no meaningful ties to or interest in this suit. Maryland, on the other hand, possesses a significant interest in this suit because all of the material events that constitute the factual predicate for the plaintiffs claims occurred there. The substantive acts relevant to this suit occurred in Maryland; the only relationship this suit bears to the District of Columbia is the fact that the plaintiff is a resident of the District of Columbia.
Cases decided under Section 1404 (a), however, "have laid much less emphasis on this [residence] factor." King, 709 F. Supp. at 262 (citing 15 Wright, Miller & Cooper, § 3489).
This action involves Maryland contracts and allegedly tortious conduct in Maryland. Specifically, the plaintiffs non-tort claims involve two life insurance policies that were entered into in Maryland. With respect to the third policy, the plaintiff engaged in activities in Maryland which led to his indictment and prosecution there for fraud. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleges tort claims that arise out of the plaintiffs criminal prosecution in Maryland. The insurance agents who processed the insurance applications work and reside in Maryland, and the Maryland Anti-Fraud Unit officials to whom the defendants allegedly made defamatory statements about the plaintiff are located in Maryland. Finally, the officials and records related to the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Kafack are also located in Maryland.
Mr. Kafack argues that the court should not transfer this case to the Northern Division (Baltimore) for the District of Maryland. This case, however, would not be transferred to the Northern Division. This case "shall be assigned" to the Southern Division for the District of Maryland, in Greenbelt, Maryland, because the "events giving rise to the claims set forth in the complaint occurred in the Southern Division."
Montgomery County, Maryland, where the prosecution of the plaintiff took place, is in the Southern Division Furthermore, two of the insurance policies were purchased in Montgomery County, and the plaintiff traveled there with respect to the third policy in order to facilitate the processing his claim.
Mr. Kafack also argues that this court should not transfer this case to the Southern Division for the District of Maryland because it would inconvenience a number of his witnesses who reside in the District. In addition, Mr. Kafack states that the witnesses who will travel from Cameroon will find it more convenient if the case were tried in this jurisdiction. The court concludes, however, that the convenience of the parties and witnesses would not be significantly disturbed by the transfer of this case to the Southern Division of the District of Maryland. Maryland and the District of Columbia are in close proximity, thereby minimizing any inconvenience to the parties or the witnesses.
Due to the close proximity of Maryland, the transfer of this case will not increase the costs for the witnesses from Cameroon or from the District of Columbia. There are several international airports near Maryland. Furthermore, the courthouse in Greenbelt is also within one mile of a Metro Station. Any increased cost to the witnesses for traveling to Maryland is not dispositive since 28 U.S.C. Section 1821 provides for reimbursement to witnesses, including witness fees and mileage reimbursement. Finally, the plaintiff has not asserted that the witnesses will be unavailable for trial in Maryland. See Jumara, 55 F.3d at 878.
The plaintiff also asserts that be and his witnesses will be inconvenienced by having to conduct discovery in Maryland. The court notes, however, that the plaintiffs counsel practices out of a Maryland office. Furthermore, Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 provides for discovery within 100 miles of the residence or place of the employment of a witness. Thus, the plaintiffs witnesses could be compelled by the defendants, pursuant to Rule 45, to provide deposition testimony in Maryland. This rule encompasses all of the U.S. non-party witnesses involved in this suit. The representatives of the Embassy of Cameroon presumably have diplomatic immunity, and thus they are subject neither to the jurisdiction nor the deposition subpoena power of this court.
See Aidi v. Yaron, 672 F. Supp. 516 (D.D.C. 1987); The Diplomatic Relations Act of 1978, 22 U.S.C. Section 254a; Republic of Phillipines v. Marcos, 665 F. Supp. 793, 800 (N.D.Cal. 1987).
The location of the sources of evidence also favors the transfer of this suit. Virtually all of the incidents giving rise to the plaintiffs claims occurred in Maryland. The majority of witnesses and records, including pertinent judicial and investigative records, are located in Maryland.
Specifically, all of the insurance representatives involved with the two life insurance policies purchased in Maryland are based there. In addition, Kemper and Primerica's records relating to those transactions are all found in Maryland offices. As to the third policy entered into in the District of Columbia with Transamerica, the plaintiff engaged in activities in Maryland that led to his indictment in that forum. The plaintiff mailed his claim form to Transamerica's office in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Transamerica's records are found in that office. With respect to the tort claims that arise out of the criminal prosecution, most of the nonparty witnesses live and work in Maryland. For example, the insurance agents who processed the insurance applications, the Maryland Anti-Fraud Unit officials who received the defendants' allegedly defamatory statements, and the officials who investigated and prosecuted Mr. Kafack for insurance fraud all live and work in Maryland.
Given these facts, the court concludes that the location of the documents and witnesses relevant to this suit warrant the transfer of this action to the Southern Division for the District of Maryland.
B. Public Considerations
The interests of justice favor the transfer of this case to Maryland. The interests of justice are best served by having a case decided by the federal court in the state whose laws govern the interests at stake. See Schmid Laboratories, 654 F. Supp. at 737; Islamic Republic of Iran, 477 F. Supp. at 144; see also King, 709 F. Supp. at 262. Under the District of Columbia's choice of law rules, the law governing the plaintiffs claims is the law of the state with the most significant relationship to the matters at issue. Church of Scientology Int'l v. Eli Lilly & Co., 848 F. Supp. 1018, 1026 (D.D.C. 1994). The resolution of this dispute will predominantly involve the interpretation of Maryland law because two of the contracts in dispute were entered into in Maryland and because the criminal prosecution and related events underlying the tort actions occurred in Maryland. Although transferring the case to a district court in Maryland is not the same as transferring the case to a Maryland state court, the district court in Maryland is more familiar than this court with the application of Maryland law. See Armico Steel Co., 790 F. Supp. at 311, 324; Van Dusen, 376 U.S. at 645. Transfer of this action to the Southern Division for the District of Maryland, which is already thoroughly familiar and experienced with the law relevant to this action, will therefore promote judicial economy. See Zurich Ins. Co. v. Raymark Industries, Inc., 672 F. Supp. 1102, 1104 (N.D. Ill. 1987).
The relative docket congestion and potential speed of resolution with respect to both the transferor and transferee courts are also appropriate factors to consider. See SEC v. Savoy Industries, Inc., 190 U.S. App. D.C. 252, 587 F.2d 1149, 1156 (D.C. Cir. 1978). Given the fact that Kemper and Primerica timely moved to transfer this case, it is not evident that a transfer to the Southern Division for the District of Maryland would lead to unnecessary delay. Due to the scheduling of other civil and criminal matters, the earliest this court could schedule a trial date in this matter would be in November 1997.
Additionally, this court has neither dealt with other issues in the suit nor has familiarized itself with the underlying merits of the case.
Since this case is in its earliest stages, there would be no delay associated with the Maryland district court's having to familiarize itself with this case. See Zurich Insurance Co., 672 F. Supp. at 1104.
Finally, this court should defer to the more compelling interest of the State of Maryland in having this localized controversy decided at home. See Armco Steel Co., 790 F. Supp. at 324. The majority of the operative events, including the prosecution of the plaintiff and the investigation about which he is complaining, took place in Maryland. As a result, the State of Maryland has a substantial interest in resolving the underlying claims of Mr. Kafack's lawsuit. Furthermore, controversies should be resolved in the locale where they arise and where related litigation existed. See Islamic Republic of Iran, 477 F. Supp. at 144. Since Mr. Kafack's current claims are related to his prior prosecution for fraud in Maryland, a transfer to the District of Maryland is advisable.
Accordingly, it is this 18th of July 1996,
ORDERED that the defendants' motion to transfer this action to the United States
District Court for the Southern District for Maryland be and is hereby granted ; and it is further ordered that all other motions be and are hereby denied without prejudice.
Ricardo M. Urbina
United States District Judge