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Nuckols v. Stevens

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

October 14, 2014

NICHOLE NUCKOLS, Plaintiff,
v.
ELIZABETH VIRGINIA STEVENS and BRIAN CRAIG SCAPECCHI, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

W. KEITH WATKINS, Chief District Judge.

This cause is before the court as a result of Plaintiff's filing of this action in an improper venue. For the reasons that follow, it is due to be dismissed without prejudice.

I. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

Subject-matter jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The federal venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a), applicable in this diversity action, provides 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 is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.

28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) provides that "[t]he district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong... district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district... in which it could have been brought." Section 1406(a) authorizes dismissal, therefore, when venue is wrong in the district in which the plaintiff commenced the action. Additionally, § 1406(a) permits a transfer to an appropriate forum "in the interest of justice, " even if personal jurisdiction over the defendant is lacking. See Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 466 (1962) ("The language of [§] 1406(a) is amply broad enough to authorize the transfer of cases, however wrong the plaintiff may have been in filing his case as to venue, whether the court in which it was filed had personal jurisdiction over the defendants or not."). The plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that venue is proper. Delong Equip. Co. v. Wash. Mills Abrasive Co., 840 F.2d 843, 845 (11th Cir. 1988).

III. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Nichole Nuckols, a citizen of Alabama, filed this action against Defendants Elizabeth Virginia Stevens and Brian Craig Scapecchi for injuries she sustained in an automobile crash on July 26, 2012. Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was attempting to make a right turn into a Surf Style parking lot, located alongside the heavy trafficked Highway 98 in Okaloosa County, Florida. Ms. Stevens "was traveling in the same lane and direction, " and before Plaintiff's vehicle had clearance to turn, Ms. Stevens "failed to stop or control her vehicle, " and rear-ended Plaintiff's vehicle, causing Plaintiff to suffer neck and back injuries. (Compl. ¶ 10.) Mr. Scapecchi, who was not in the vehicle, is its owner.

The Complaint alleges that Ms. Stevens negligently and wantonly "caused the motor vehicle collision" and that Mr. Scapecchi was negligent in inspecting, maintaining, and repairing the vehicle. (Compl. ¶¶ 10, 20, 21, 23.) Seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $75, 000, the Complaint brings state-law claims against Defendants for negligence and wantonness.

The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff is a citizen of Alabama, who resides in Elmore County, Alabama. It further alleges that Defendants are citizens of Florida, that Ms. Stevens resides in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, ...


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