The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On December 1, 1999, United States District Court Judge J.
Frederick Motz of Maryland transferred a case, Ida Wells v. G.
Gordon Liddy, Civil Action 97-946 (now docketed in this Court
as Civil Action 993452), to this Court for possible
consolidation with the case Dean v. St. Martin's Press, Inc.,
et al., Civil Action 92-1807. On February 24, 2000, this Court
issued an order denying consolidation and ordering, sua
sponte, that Wells' case be retransferred to the United States
District Court for the District of Maryland. However, the
transfer order was stayed subject to the filing of a possible
motion to oppose transfer. Plaintiff filed such a motion, which
was in turn opposed by defendant. Upon consideration of
plaintiffs motion to oppose the transfer, the opposition and
reply thereto, and for the reasons stated, plaintiffs motion
[20-1] is DENIED and this matter is transferred to Maryland
pursuant to this Court's February 24, 2000 order.
This Court ordered the transfer, sua sponte, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which authorizes the transfer of cases "[f]or
the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice." Courts also consider the plaintiffs choice of forum,
relative ease of access to sources of proof and the public
interest. See e.g. Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501,
508-9, 67 S.Ct. 839, 91 L.Ed. 1055, (1947); Chung v. Chrysler
Corp., 903 F. Supp. 160, 163-4 (D.C. 1995).
In ordering the retransfer to Maryland, this Court reasoned
that it would be more efficient to have the case heard before
Judge Motz who had already familiarized himself with the issues
in the case. Additionally, Judge Motz had stated that he was
holding a September trial date for the Wells matter so that
the case would not be delayed in the event that it were returned
to Baltimore. Thus, the Court concluded it would serve judicial
economy and the public interest to retransfer the case.
Plaintiff does offer other arguments against retransfer, yet
none of them are compelling. Plaintiff argues that there is a
strong presumption against sua sponte transfers, see In re
Chatman-Bey, 718 F.2d 484, 487 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (citing In re
Scott, 709 F.2d 717, 719 (D.C. Cir. 1983), that sua sponte
transfers should be reserved for "`exceptional
circumstances.'"), as well as against retransfer of a case. See
In re Cragar Industries, Inc., 706 F.2d 503 (5th Cir. 1983).
However, the Court disagrees that the holdings in these cases
preclude retransfer where, as here, Judge Motz' stated "sole
reason" for the original transfer was to allow this Court to
consider consolidation with the Dean case. Wells v. Liddy,
No. 97-946, slip op. at 4 (Md. Dec. 1, 1999). In a similar
situation, an Illinois district court retransferred a case that
had been transferred from Florida for purposes of possible
consolidation; once the consolidation did not go forward, the
court found that the purpose of the transfer was "frustrated"
and it was appropriate to retransfer to the original forum. See
generally, Russell v. IU International Corp., 685 F. Supp. 172
The Court acknowledges that plaintiff would now prefer to
litigate her case in the District of Columbia. However, it is
questionable whether plaintiffs choice of forum is entitled to
much deference at this point; plaintiff chose to bring the suit
in Maryland originally, and argued strenuously against the
transfer from Maryland to the District of Columbia. It is the
defendant, who for years sought to transfer this case to the
District of Columbia, who now consents to a retransfer to the
District of Maryland.
Nor is there compelling force in plaintiffs argument that the
District of Columbia is more convenient for the litigants and
likely witnesses. In his initial transfer order, Judge Motz did
find that the District of Columbia was slightly more convenient
for counsel and likely witnesses. However, Judge Motz noted that
this convenience factor was "negligible" since there is
relatively little distance between the two cities.
Therefore, while there are some factors that tip slightly in
favor of this Court retaining jurisdiction, the Court finds they
are outweighed by the benefit of returning this matter to the
judge who is already familiar with the case and able to try it
in a timely fashion. Therefore, it is hereby
ORDERED that plaintiffs motion to oppose transfer [20-1] is
DENIED; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiffs request that the Court certify this
matter for interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b)
is DENIED. If plaintiff believes the Court has abused its
discretion in failing to vacate the retransfer order, plaintiff
can avail herself of other existing remedies. See e.g., In Re
Tripati, 836 F.2d 1406 (D.C. Cir. 1988); Starnes v. McGuire,
512 F.2d 918 (D.C. Cir. 1974); and it is further
ORDERED that the above-captioned case shall be TRANSFERRED
to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
pursuant to this Court's February 24, 2000 order.