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SCHMIDT v. AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS

June 28, 2004.

JEFF SCHMIDT, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

TRANSFERRING THE ACTION TO THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND

I. INTRODUCTION

  Having been fired from his job, plaintiff Jeff Schmidt brings suit against his former employer, the American Institute of Physics ("AIP"), alleging breach of contract and other claims. In response, AIP moves to transfer the action to the District of Maryland Because the plaintiff originally could have brought this case in the proposed transferee forum, and considerations of convenience and the interest of justice weigh in favor of transfer, the court grants AIP's motion and transfers the action to the District of Maryland

  II. BACKGROUND

  A. Factual Background

  AIP is a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with the University of Maryland whose purpose is to promote the advancement of knowledge of physics. Compl. ¶ 4; Def.'s Mot. to Transfer ("Def.'s Mot.") at 2. AIP publishes scientific journals, including Physics Today. Id. Originally headquartered in New York, AIP now maintains its corporate offices and headquarters in College Park, Maryland, with an office in the District of Columbia. Compl. ¶ 3; Def.'s Mot. at 2 & Ex. 1 ("Braun Aff.") ¶ 2; Pl.'s Opp'n Attach. 1 ("First Schmidt Aff.") ¶ 22; Def.'s Supp. Br. Ex. 1 ("Benka Aff.") ¶ 5.

  In 1981, the plaintiff began working for AIP as an editor for Physics Today at AIP's New York offices. Compl. ¶ 5; Def.'s Reply at 6. In 1993, when AIP moved its corporate offices to Maryland, the plaintiff moved to the District of Columbia and continued working for AIP at its Maryland office. First Schmidt Aff. ¶¶ 6-7; Def.'s Mot. at 3; Braun Aff. ¶ 12; Benka Aff. ¶ 5. The parties disagree as to the physical location where the plaintiff worked between 1997 and 2000. The plaintiff states that from 1997 until his discharge in 2000, he worked four days per week at home and the fifth day at the Maryland office. Pl.'s Opp'n at 4; First Schmidt Aff. ¶ 17. AIP maintains quite the reverse, indicating that during this period the plaintiff worked primarily in Maryland and from home "on an occasional basis, and solely for his own convenience." Def.'s Reply at 6.

  In 2000, AIP discharged the plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 13; Def.'s Mot. at 3. According to the plaintiff, AIP first placed a gag order on the plaintiff, and then fired him for engaging in workplace activism and expressing views advocating more diversity and humane treatment in the workplace. Compl. ¶ 11; Pl.'s Opp'n at 2-3, 5. AIP, on the other hand, states that it discharged the plaintiff after he published a book in which he publicly proclaimed having "stolen" company time to write the book. Def.'s Reply Ex. 1 ("Brodsky Aff.") ¶ 12. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed an administrative claim against AIP with the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"), apparently filing the claim at the NLRB office in the District of Columbia but receiving a written response from the NLRB office in Baltimore, Maryland First Schmidt Aff. ¶ 26; Pl.'s Supp. Br. at 5; Brodsky Aff. ¶ 5 & Exs. A, B. B. Procedural History

  In May 2003, the plaintiff filed suit in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, alleging breach of contract, breach of oral contract, detrimental reliance, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and due-process and free-speech violations. Compl. ¶¶ 12-38. In August 2003, AIP removed the action to this court and thereafter moved to transfer the action to the District of Maryland The court now turns to AIP's motion to transfer.

  III. ANALYSIS

 
A. Legal Standard for Venue and Transfer to Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)
  When federal jurisdiction is not premised solely on diversity, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) controls venue, establishing that venue is proper in:
 
(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 there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

  In an action where venue is proper, 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) nonetheless authorizes a court to transfer the action to any other district where it could have been brought "for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice[.]" 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Section 1404(a) vests "discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions to transfer according to [an] individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness." Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 27 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)). Under this ...


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