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JAMES v. BOOZ-ALLEN & HAMILTON

July 31, 2002

AARON C. JAMES, SR., PLAINTIFF,
V.
BOOZ-ALLEN & HAMILTON, INC., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM OPINION
TRANSFERRING THE CASE TO THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arises from a complaint filed by Mr. Aaron James, Sr. ("the plaintiff") alleging that his employer, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc. ("the defendant"), discriminated against him on the basis of his race. The defendant moves the court to dismiss the action for improper venue, asserting that the alleged discriminatory act did not occur in the District of Columbia, that the employment records are not located in the District of Columbia, and that the plaintiff would not have worked in the District of Columbia "but for" the alleged discriminatory act. After consideration of the parties' submissions and the relevant law, the court determines that venue is improper in this district and thereby transfers the case to the Eastern District of Virginia.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The plaintiff, a black male, began working for the defendant in 1988, leaving in 1994 and returning in 1996 to work for the defendant as a senior associate. Am. Compl. ("Compl.") ¶¶ 1, 4. In his new position as a senior associate, the plaintiff served as the project manager for the defendant's contract with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA"). Id. at ¶ 5. In February 1999, as a result of the WMATA's complaints about the plaintiff, the defendant discharged the plaintiff from his position as project manager. Id. at ¶ 9. The defendant then offered the project manager position to another individual, a white male, who had prior experience working with the defendant on the WMATA contract. Id. at ¶ 10. Although the plaintiff was not demoted, he felt that his duties after his discharge as project manager diminished in quality and his career stagnated. Id. at ¶ 13; Prince George's County Human Relations Commission's ("PGCHRC") Letter of Determination, dated May 15, 2000 ("PGCHRC Letter of Determination"); Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss for Improper Venue ("Def.'s Mot."), Ex. 1-B at 3. Consequently, the plaintiff resigned from his position with the defendant in July 1999. Compl. ¶ 13.

B. Procedural Background

On October 19, 2000, the plaintiff filed his pro se complaint in this court. The clerk's office informed the court that the plaintiff had failed to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and that the plaintiff had failed to provide a copy of a "right to sue" letter issued by the subject county commission. In response to these defects, the court issued an order on January 16, 2001 directing the plaintiff to satisfy these requirements. Order, dated Jan. 16, 2001. On February 6, 2001, the plaintiff responded with the appropriate filing and also indicated that he had retained counsel to represent him in the matter. See Pl.'s Notice of Filing, dated Feb. 6, 2001. On March 9, 2001, the clerk's office received a return of service indicating that the plaintiff served the defendant with a summons and the complaint on February 12, 2001. Noting that the deadline for a timely response to the complaint had expired, the court issued an order on May 21, 2001 directing the defendant to show cause ("show cause order") as to why no response had been filed and why the court should not proceed to enter default judgment in the case. Show Cause Order. The defendant filed a response to the court's show cause order on June 7, 2001, challenging the plaintiff's service of process and arguing that default judgment is not appropriate. Def.'s Resp. to Show Cause Order at 4. The defendant filed a submission styled as a "Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Booz Allen's Response to Order to Show Cause" on July 3, 2001, in which the defendant moved the court to dismiss the complaint for deficient service of process pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) or, in the alternative, to quash service. See Def.'s Resp. at 8. Concurrent with the dispute relating to service of process, on June 1, 2001, the plaintiff issued a subpoena duces tecum to PGCHRC (a non-party to this litigation) requesting production of copies of the discrimination complaint file, including any and all documents filed by the defendant. See PGCHRC's Mot. to Quash, Attach. A. PGCHRC filed a motion to quash the subpoena on June 21, 2001. Resolving the above named issues, the court denied entry of default judgment, granted the defendant's motion to quash the plaintiff's service of process, and granted PGCHRC's motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum. Mem. Op. and Order, dated Feb. 12, 2002.

After retaining counsel, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint with the court on March 6, 2002. Accordingly, the amended complaint is the operative complaint. The defendant now moves the court to dismiss the complaint for improper venue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3). The plaintiff has filed an opposition to this motion claiming that venue is proper, but if the court finds that it is improper, then the plaintiff asks the court to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia. Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 7. For the reasons that follow, the court concludes that venue is improper in this district and transfers the case to the Eastern District of Virginia.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Venue in Title VII Cases

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) states that the court will dismiss or transfer a case if venue is improper or inconvenient in the plaintiff's chosen forum. FED. R. Civ. PROC. 12(b)(3). In considering a Rule 12(b)(3) motion, the court accepts the plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations regarding venue as true, the court draws all reasonable inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor, and the court resolves any factual conflicts in the plaintiff's favor. 2215 Fifth Street Assocs. v. U-Haul Int'l Inc., ...


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