follow, the court grants the defendants' motion to transfer the two cases
to the Southern District of Ohio.
The plaintiff is a GS-14*fn1 employee in the Office of the Chief
Financial Officer ("CFO") of DOE. Compl. (02-1140) ¶ 4; Compl.
(02-1143) ¶ 4. On June 10, 2002, she filed two complaints against
the defendants alleging employment discrimination under Title VII.
In her first complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants
engaged in intentional discrimination by effectively failing to promote
her to a GS-15 position. Compl. (02-1140) ¶¶ 5-7, 10. The plaintiff
states that as a result of the defendants' discriminatory conduct, she
was reassigned to a new and hostile work environment. Id. ¶ 8.
Moreover, the plaintiff alleges that because the defendants were aware of
equal employment opportunity ("EEO") complaints filed by the plaintiff,
she suffered retaliation and reprisal. Id. at iv. She requests relief in
the form of promotion, with front and back pay, to a GS-15 position
retroactive to August 1994; compensation for emotional distress and
anguish; punitive damages; compensation for pain, suffering, and
humiliation; and compensation for lost annual and sick leave. Id. at iv.
In virtually identical terms, Ms. Darby's second complaint alleges that
the defendants engaged in intentional discrimination by refusing to
select her for a newly-created GS-15 position, and by preventing the
personnel office from using certain ranking and interviewing tools during
the selection process for the GS-15 position. Compl. (02-1143) ¶
5-7. As a result, the plaintiff states that she was never promoted. Id.
¶ 8. As in her first complaint, she alleges that because the
defendants were aware of EEO complaints filed by the plaintiff, she
suffered retaliation and reprisal. Id. at iii. Finally, she requests the
same relief prayed for in her first complaint. Id.
On August 29, 2002, the defendants filed a motion to consolidate the
two actions and to dismiss the consolidated action for improper venue
or, in the alternative, to transfer the consolidated action to the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Defs.' Mot. to
Consolidate and Dismiss or Transfer ("Defs.' Mot.") at 1. The defendants
argue that consolidation of the two cases is warranted under Rule 42(a)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because they involve common
questions of law and fact. Id. at 3-5. In addition, the defendants state
that according to the Title VII venue statute, venue is not proper in the
District of Columbia. Id. at 5-7. They urge the court to dismiss the
plaintiff's complaints or transfer them to the Southern District of Ohio.
Id. at 7.
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. P. 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, draws all reasonable inferences from
those allegations in the plaintiff's favor, and resolves any factual
conflicts in the plaintiff's favor. 2215 Fifth St. Assocs. v.
U-Haul Int'l, Inc., 148 F. Supp.2d 50, 54 (D.D.C. 2001). The court,
however, need not accept the plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Id. To
prevail on a motion to dismiss for improper venue, the defendant must
present facts that will defeat the plaintiff's assertion of venue. Id.
Under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3), a plaintiff may bring a Title VII
action in any one of four judicial districts. The statute provides that:
[s]uch an action may be brought in  any judicial
district in the State in which the unlawful employment
practice is alleged to have been committed,  in the
judicial district in which the employment records
relevant to such practice are maintained and
administered, or  in the judicial district in which
the aggrieved person would have worked but for the
alleged unlawful employment practice,  but if the
respondent is not found within any such district, such
an action may be brought within the judicial district
in which the respondent has his principal office.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). This statutory scheme indicates that
Congress intended to limit venue in Title VII cases to those
jurisdictions concerned with the alleged discrimination. Stebbins v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 413 F.2d 1100, 1102 (D.C. Cir. 1969).
Courts can determine venue by applying a "commonsense appraisal" of
events having operative significance. Lamont v. Haig, 590 F.2d 1124, 1134
(D.C. Cir. 1978); Donnell v. Nat'l Guard Bureau, 568 F. Supp. 93, 94
(D.D.C. 1983). Specifically, venue cannot lie in the District of Columbia
when "a substantial part, if not all, of the employment practices
challenged in this action" took place outside the District even when
actions taken in the District "may have had an impact on the plaintiff's
situation." Donnell, 568 F. Supp. at 94.
If the plaintiff brings suit in a jurisdiction that does not satisfy
one of the venue requirements listed in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3),
venue is improper. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3); Washington v. Gen.
Elec. Corp., 686 F. Supp. 361, 363 (D.D.C. 1988). When a plaintiff files
an action in the wrong district, 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) directs courts
to "dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case"
to the proper venue. 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Generally, the "interest of
justice" requires courts to transfer cases to the appropriate judicial
district, rather than dismiss them. Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463,
466-67 (1962); James v. Booz-Allen, 2002 WL 31119865, at *3 (D.D.C. Jul.
B. The Court Determines That Venue in the District of Columbia
Is Improper and Transfers the Pending Actions to the
Southern District of Ohio
The defendants have presented facts that defeat plaintiff's assertion
personnel files for all Ohio Field
Office employees are maintained and administered in Miamisburg, Ohio, and
the events described by the plaintiff occurred in the Ohio Field Office.
Defs.' Mot. Ex. 3 (Briggs Decl.). Clearly, then, the alleged unlawful
employment practices at issue were not committed in this jurisdiction,
and the employment records relevant to those practices are not maintained
and administered here. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Nor does the
plaintiff allege that but for those alleged practices she would have
worked in this district. Id.; see generally Compl. No. 02-1140; Compl.
No. 02-1143. The District of Columbia therefore does not satisfy any of
the first three Title VII venue possibilities.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3).
Nonetheless, venue may be proper in the District of Columbia —
the judicial district in which the defendants have their principal office
— if the defendants may not be found within the judicial district
that is the locus of the alleged discrimination in this case (here, the
Southern District of Ohio). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3); Stebbins, 413
F.2d at 1102. The plaintiff does not argue that the defendants may not be
found in the Southern District, however. See generally Compl. No.
02-1140; Compl. No. 02-1143. In fact, by stating that Title VII venue is
proper in the Southern District, the defendants suggest that they may be
found in that jurisdiction. Defs.' Mot. at 7.
In sum, because the District of Columbia does not satisfy any of the
Title VII venue requirements, venue for the pending actions does not
properly lie in this jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3); Gen.
Elec., 686 F. Supp. at 363. In the interest of justice, therefore, the
court transfers the plaintiff's actions to the Southern District of
Ohio.*fn3 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a); Goldlawr, 369 U.S. at 466; James,
2002 WL 31119865, at *3.
Because the court determines that venue is not proper in the District
of Columbia, it must leave the question of consolidation of the two
actions to the sound discretion of its sister court in the Southern
District of Ohio.*fn4
For the foregoing reasons, the court grants the defendants' motion to
transfer the pending cases to the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Ohio. An order consistent with this
Memorandum Opinion is separately and contemporaneously issued this ___
day of November, 2002.
GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER THE PENDING ACTIONS
TO THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
For the reasons stated in this court's Memorandum Opinion separately
and contemporaneously issued this ___ day of November, 2002, it is