United States District Court, District of Columbia
KENNETH E. FLICK, Plaintiff,
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS III, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, in his Official Capacity, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY J. KELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
resides in Douglasville, Georgia, located in the Northern
District of Georgia. ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶
7. In 1987, he pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for
the Northern District of Georgia to federal
copyright-infringement and smuggling charges. Id.
¶¶ 11, 13. As a result of these felony
convictions, Plaintiff is prohibited by federal statute, 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), from possessing firearms or
ammunition. Compl. ¶ 7. Plaintiff claims that this
prohibition, as applied to him, violates his rights under the
Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because his crimes
occurred long ago and did not involve violence, and because
he is now a responsible and law-abiding citizen. Id.
has moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of
Georgia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) or,
alternatively, to dismiss it. ECF No. 8 (“Def's
Br.”); see also ECF No. 10 (“Pl.'s
Opp'n”); ECF No. 11 (“Def's
Reply”). As explained below, the motion will be
granted, and the case will be transferred to the Northern
District of Georgia.
Section 1404(a) provides that any case may be transferred
“[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the
interest of justice, . . . to any other district or division
where it might have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a). The moving party bears the heavy burden of making a
decisive showing that transfer is proper. Thayer/Patricof
Educ. Funding, L.L.C. v. Pryor Res., Inc., 196 F.Supp.2d
21, 31 (D.D.C. 2002). “In evaluating a motion to
transfer, a court may weigh several private- and
public-interest factors.” Mazzarino v. Prudential
Ins. Co. of Am., 955 F.Supp.2d 24, 28 (D.D.C. 2013).
“If the balance of private and public interests favors
a transfer of venue, then a court may order a
Potential Prejudice to Plaintiff from Proceeding under the
Law of the Transferee Court
turning to the familiar private- and public-interest factors
that govern a transfer-of-venue analysis, the Court must
address a threshold issue that Plaintiff has raised. He
argues that this case cannot be transferred to the Northern
District of Georgia because he would suffer prejudice if he
had to proceed under the law of the Eleventh Circuit. He
claims that D.C. Circuit law is favorable to him, and
specifically, he relies on dictum in Schrader v.
Holder, 704 F.3d 980 (D.C. Cir. 2013). See
Pl.'s Opp'n at 6. The Schrader court
considered-and rejected-a classwide challenge to §
922(g)(1)'s ban on firearm possession as applied to
misdemeanants. See 704 F.3d at 991. The court noted
that the plaintiff in that case had not brought a challenge
to the law as it applied to him individually, and opined that
Congress might consider funding an existing mechanism for
relief from § 922(g)(1) lest the statute “remain
vulnerable to a properly raised as-applied constitutional
challenge.” Id. at 992. Plaintiff argues that
similarly “favorable” case law is lacking in the
Eleventh Circuit, and that courts in the Northern District of
Georgia have dismissed as-applied challenges by felons.
See Pl.'s Opp'n at 8-9.
threshold objection fails. As an initial matter, his
reference to Schrader's dictum notwithstanding,
Plaintiff has not identified a difference in law between the
two jurisdictions. Plaintiff points to no binding authority
in the D.C. Circuit or the Eleventh Circuit that controls the
sort of as-applied challenge he seeks to bring. See
Pl.'s Opp'n at 6-9.
even if there were differences in circuit law, they would not
prevent a transfer of venue under § 1404(a) here.
Certainly, Plaintiff cites no authority actually supporting
that proposition. To the contrary, “[i]n
federal-question cases, transfer is permissible even when the
transferee forum is in a circuit that has interpreted a
federal law differently than the circuit of the transferor
forum.” Sierra Club v. Flowers, 276 F.Supp.2d
62, 69 n.4 (D.D.C. 2003). That is because “the federal
courts comprise a single system in which each tribunal
endeavors to apply a single body of law.” Id.
(quoting In re Korean Air Lines Disaster of Sept. 1,
1983, 829 F.2d 1171, 1175 (D.C. Cir. 1987)).
the Court proceeds to the well-recognized framework for
analyzing a motion to transfer venue. The parties agree that
this action might have been brought in the Northern District
of Georgia. Def.'s Br. at 6; Pl.'s Opp'n at 10;
see also 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e)(1). The Court will
therefore weigh the private- and public-interest factors to
determine if they justify a transfer.
private-interest considerations that a court may weigh in
evaluating a motion to transfer venue include: “(1) the
plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the defendant's
preferred forum; (3) the location where the claim arose; (4)
the convenience of the parties; (5) the convenience of
witnesses; and (6) ease of access to sources of proof.”
Mazzarino, 955 F.Supp.2d at 28.
first factor, the plaintiff's choice of forum, weighs
slightly against transfer. The plaintiff's choice usually
receives deference, especially when the plaintiff brings suit
in his home district. Id. at 29. But the
plaintiff's choice is entitled to little or no deference
where “the parties, facts, and claims . . . lack any
significant connection to the District of Columbia.”
Id. at 30. The mere fact that the defendant can be
sued in the forum is not enough, particularly where the
defendant is subject to suit nationwide. See Id.
Plaintiff argues that his choice of forum is due extra
deference because the law in this Circuit is, he claims, more
favorable to him. Pl.'s Opp'n at 10. But this does
not weigh against transfer. To the contrary, “a court
should be vigilant to possible forum shopping, especially
when the underlying case has little or no connection to the
district in which it sits.” Mazzarino, 955
F.Supp.2d at 30. And that is doubly true where a plaintiff,
by “naming high government officials as defendants,
” seeks to “bring a suit here that properly
should be pursued elsewhere.” Cameron v.
Thornburgh, 98 ...