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Parkridge 6, LLC v. United States Dep't of Transportation

November 9, 2009

PARKRIDGE 6, LLC ET AL PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, ET AL DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Parkridge 6 is a Virginia-based LLC which owns property adjoining the proposed development route of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project ("Project"). Plaintiff Dulles Corridor Users Group is a Virginia-based civic advocacy group established to monitor the development of the Project. Defendants are the United States Department of Transportation ("USDOT"), the Federal Transit Administration ("FTA"), the Federal Highway Administration ("FHWA"), the Virginia Department of Transportation ("VADOT"), and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority ("MWAA"). Plaintiffs bring this action against Defendants alleging that the Project violates numerous provisions of federal and Virginia state law. This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue to the Eastern District of Virginia.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The Project is a transportation construction project currently underway to expand the Washington Metropolitan Metrorail system for twenty-three miles in Northern Virginia. The Project aims to extend Metrorail service to Washington Dulles International Airport ("Dulles Airport"), which will impact the area surrounding Route 267, a Virginia state highway. Plaintiff Parkridge 6 owns land adjacent to Route 267. Compl. ¶ 13.

Defendant MWAA is a public interstate compact entity based in Virginia. Defs.' Mot. 3. In 1987, Defendants USDOT and MWAA entered into a lease transferring operational responsibility for Dulles Airport and the Dulles Airport Access Road to MWAA. Compl. ¶ 53. Pursuant to a 2006 agreement between MWAA and the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Commonwealth transferred possession and control of certain land in Northern Virginia to the MWAA in exchange for MWAA's assumption of the obligation to design and construct the Project on that land. Defs.' Mot. 3

On March 10, 2009, the federal government and MWAA entered into a full funding grant agreement. Compl. ¶ 4. The Project is being financed through contributions of MWAA, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, grant funds from Defendant FTA, and revenue from the Dulles Toll Road. Defs.' Mot. 3. Defendant FHWA maintains jurisdiction over federal highway design, including proposed use of the highway for public transit. Compl. ¶ 346.

B. Procedural Background

On August 6, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a 15-count Complaint with this Court against USDOT, FTA, FHWA, VADOT, and MWAA.

Twelve of the counts allege Defendants' violations of Virginia law: Counts II and XIII allege violations of the Virginia Constitution, Count III alleges violations of the Virginia State Bond Revenue Act, Count IV alleges violations of MWAA's lease agreement with the FAA, which is "governed by the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia," Counts VI and VII rely on MWAA's enabling statute, Va. Code § 5.1-152, Count VIII asserts violations of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, Counts IX and X allege violations of the Virginia Public Private Partnership Act, and Counts XI and XV allege violations of Va. Code. § 33.1-287, which authorizes the use of toll roads.

Only Counts I, V, and XIV contain no causes of action under Virginia law, and assert exclusively federal claims.*fn1

On September 22, 2009, all Defendants filed a Joint Motion to Transfer Venue to the Eastern District of Virginia and to Stay Response Deadline. On October 7, 2009, this Court granted Defendants' Motion to Stay, pending resolution of the Motion to Transfer.

II. ANALYSIS

The federal venue transfer statute provides that "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (2006). The statute vests "discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions for 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). As the moving party, Defendants bear the burden of establishing ...


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