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Revis v. Tustin Construction Services, LLC

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 21, 2018

JEFFREY REVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
TUSTIN CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Revis brings this action against his former employer, Tustin Construction Services, LLC (“TCS”) for wages allegedly owed following Plaintiff's termination. Pending before the Court is Defendant's [10] Motion for Change of Venue. Defendant asks the Court to transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Defendant's Motion is, in large part, based on the fact that the parties previously signed an agreement containing a forum selection clause whereby they stipulated that disputes of this nature would be litigated in Pennsylvania. Upon consideration of the pleadings, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to change venue. The Court finds that this action could have been brought in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania originally, and that private and public interest factors weigh in favor of transfer.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit arises from Plaintiff Jeffrey Revis' employment with Defendant TCS. See Compl., ECF No. 1-3, ¶ 6. Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated “for no reason other than to avoid paying” him a bonus and other wages that Plaintiff alleges he is owed. Id. ¶ 24. Among other things, Plaintiff claims that Defendant is obligated to pay him $12, 000 under a NonDisclosure and Non-Competition Agreement that Plaintiff and Defendant entered into when Plaintiff was first hired. Id. ¶¶ 18-20. Plaintiff alleges that “Section 2.2 of the Non-Disclosure Agreement provides that Revis is to be paid $12, 000 upon termination in consideration for his not obtaining employment in a territory where Tustin is licensed.” Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has failed to pay him this amount. Id. ¶ 20. His lawsuit is expressly based, in part, on this obligation. Id. ¶ 30.

         Plaintiff originally brought this lawsuit in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Defendant then removed it to this Court based on diversity of citizenship. See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. After filing its Answer, Defendant moved to transfer this action to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. That motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for resolution.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a court may transfer a case to any other district where it might have been brought “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.” The party moving to transfer venue bears the burden of establishing that convenience and the interests of justice weigh in favor of transfer. See Int'l Bhd. of Painters & Allied Trades Union v. Best Painting and Sandblasting Co., Inc., 621 F.Supp. 906, 907 (D.D.C. 1985). Section 1404(a) vests discretion in the district court to conduct an “individualized, case-by-case” analysis of whether transfer is appropriate. Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Although the parties agree that venue is technically valid in this District, the Court will nonetheless exercise its discretion to transfer this action to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the interest of justice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Determining whether transfer is appropriate pursuant to Section 1404(a) calls for a two-part inquiry. First, the Court must ask whether the transferee forum is one where the action “might have been brought” originally. § 1404(a). Second, the Court must consider whether private and public interest factors weigh in favor of transfer. See Lentz v. Eli Lilly & Co., 464 F.Supp.2d 35, 36-37 (D.D.C. 2006). In this case, the Court concludes that this action could have been brought originally in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and that private and public interest factors weigh in favor of transferring the case to that court.

         a. Plaintiff Could Have Brought this Action in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

         Venue would have been proper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania if this action had been brought there originally. Plaintiff argues that venue would not have been proper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania because “all operable facts took place in the District of Columbia.” Pl.'s Opp'n at 7-8. Even if the Court were to agree that “all operable facts” took place in D.C.-and it does not-this argument misstates the standard for venue. It ignores the fact that venue would be proper in this case in any “judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located.” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1).

         In this case, the sole Defendant, TCS, resides in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Its principal place of business is located in that district, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. See Decl. of James Tustin Sasser, ECF No. 10-2 (“Sasser Decl.”), ¶ 2. Plaintiff makes no attempt to dispute this fact. Accordingly, this action could have been brought originally in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

         b. The Private and Public Interest Factors We i g h in Favor of Transfer

         The second step of the Court's analysis is determining whether the relevant private and public interest factors weigh in favor of transferring the action. The Court finds that both ...


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