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Liban v. Churchey Group II

February 26, 2004

VERALEE LIBAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHURCHEY GROUP II, L.L.C. ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge.

Document No. 3

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER

I. INTRODUCTION

This case comes before the court on the defendants' motion to transfer. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants discriminated against her due to her familial status in violation of the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., as well as the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. Code Ann. §§ 2-1401 et seq. Because the plaintiff originally could have brought her case in the proposed transferee forum and the considerations of convenience and the interest of justice weigh in favor of transfer, the court grants the defendants' motion.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Defendant Churchey Group II, L.L.C. ("the Churchey Group") is a real-estate development, marketing and management company, incorporated in Maryland. Compl. ¶ 5. One of the Churchey Group's properties is Greenwich Village, a development of new, single-family homes in Hagerstown, Maryland. Id. In July of 2002, the plaintiff, a Maryland resident and the mother of three children, read the defendants' advertisement in the Washington Post, which stated that Greenwich Village consisted of "Gracious Homes for the Empty Nester." Id. ¶¶ 4, 9-10. The plaintiff also accessed the Greenwich Park website, which displayed the same statement. Id. ¶ 11.

On July 18, 2002 the plaintiff and her children traveled to Greenwich Park to inquire about available homes. Id. ¶ 12. At Greenwich Park, the plaintiff alleges that defendant Tricia Churchey ("Churchey"), the sales manager and a principal of the Churchey Group, told the plaintiff that Greenwich Park was designed for "empty nesters." The plaintiff claims that Churchey further explained that an "empty nester" was a person who did not have children or whose children no longer lived at home, and that Greenwich Park was not well-suited to families with children. Id. ¶ 13. The plaintiff alleges that Churchey then explained that the vision for Greenwich Park was that of a retirement community for seniors and couples who no longer had children living at home. Id. The plaintiff claims that Churchey then showed her model home to the plaintiff, reiterating throughout the tour that Greenwich Park was intended to be a retirement community and that there would be no place in Greenwich Park for the plaintiff's children to play. Id. ¶ 18. The next day, the plaintiff called Churchey with some follow-up questions regarding the purchase of a lot in Greenwich Park. Id ¶ 22. The plaintiff claims that Churchey did not know the answers to any of her questions, and that Churchey did not offer to obtain the information for the plaintiff. Id.

B. Procedural History

On February 13, 2003, the plaintiff filed suit in this court, alleging violations of the FHA and the DCHRA. On March 7, 2003 the defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer the action to the District of Maryland. The court now turns to that motion.

III. ANALYSIS*fn1

A. Legal Standard for Venue and Transfer to Another District

When federal jurisdiction is premised on a federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) controls venue, establishing three places where venue is proper:

(1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant may be found, if ...


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