Hawksbill Sea Turtle, 939 F. Supp. at 3; Chung, 903 F. Supp. at
165; Comptroller of Currency v. Calhoun First Nat'l Bank,
626 F. Supp. 137, 140 n. 9 (D.D.C. 1985); Islamic Republic of Iran v.
Boeing Co., 477 F. Supp. 142, 144 (D.D.C. 1979) (noting that
plaintiff's choice of forum is accorded "diminished
consideration" where that forum "has no meaningful ties to the
controversy and no particular interest in the parties or subject
matter") (citations omitted).
For the following reasons, the Court concludes that the
customary deference is not warranted in this case. First, none of
the named Plaintiffs or identified class members reside in the
District of Columbia. See Def.'s Mem. at 4. Only a relatively
tiny number of unidentified class members resides in the
District. of Columbia. See Pl.'s Mem. of Points and Auth. in
Opp'n to Def.'s Joint Mot. to Transfer ("Pl.'s Mem.") at 14
(stating that approximately 516 quota holders, and apparently no
tobacco growers, reside in the District of Columbia).
Second, the only real connection this lawsuit has to the
District of Columbia is that a federal agency headquartered here
(USDA) is charged with generally regulating and overseeing the
tobacco auction process, and Defendants are allegedly acting in a
way that undermines the applicable USDA regulatory scheme. See
Pl.'s Mem. at 15, 34-36.
Significantly, Plaintiffs have not indicated that the USDA or
any of its employees have a significant day-to-day role in
observing, managing or running these auctions. Nor have they
demonstrated that the District of Columbia has a stronger
interest in the outcome of this lawsuit than it would have in any
other complex litigation which in some manner implicates a
federal regulatory scheme.
Upon examination of Plaintiffs' most recent complaint, this
case appears to be, above all else, an antitrust lawsuit accusing
one group of entities of colluding against a large number of
individuals and organizations. It is the tobacco growers and
quota holders, not the USDA, that are and would continue to be
harmed by Defendants' alleged unlawful actions. Accordingly,
since only a minuscule number of putative class members resides
in the transferor forum, Plaintiffs' choice in this case is
accorded little, if any, deference.
When deciding whether to transfer a case to another federal
district court, this Court is not limited to the three factors
expressly enumerated in § 1404(a) (i.e., the convenience of the
parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and the interest of
justice). Kafack, 934 F. Supp. at 6. Rather, the Court can
expand its analysis to other important factors, such as
ease of access to sources of proof; availability of
compulsory process to compel the attendance of
unwilling witnesses; the amount of expense of
unwilling witnesses; the relative congestion of the
calendars of potential transferee and transferor
courts; and other practical aspect[s] of
expeditiously and conveniently conducting a trial.
Chung, 903 F. Supp. at 163-64 (quoting Armco Steel Co., LP v.
CSX Corp., 790 F. Supp. 311, 323 (D.D.C. 1991)). Consideration of
the these factors demonstrates that transfer would be appropriate
and "in the interest of justice" in this case.