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Walls v. Action Resources Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

November 1, 2017

MARY WALLS, an Individual; MELISSA WALLS, as next friend of JOSHUA D. DEFORD, a Minor, Plaintiff,
v.
ACTION RESOURCES, INC., a Domestic Corporation; and MICAH LEAVINS, an Individual, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion To Dismiss or Transfer Venue (the "Motion"), filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), by the Defendants, Action Resources, Inc. and Micah Leavins. (Doc. 6). For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be GRANTED in part and this case will be TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

         I. FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT

         The Complaint sets out the following factual basis for the claims in this case:

7. On March 11, 2016, the Plaintiffs were traveling South on Interstate 75 in Bradley County, Tennessee.
8. Defendant Leavins was operating a commercial motor vehicle owned and/or operated by Action Resources on 1-75 South directly behind the vehicle occupied by Walls and DeFord (referred to hereinafter collectively as "Plaintiffs").
9. At all times herein mentioned, the Plaintiffs' vehicle was operated in a reasonable and prudent manner, with due caution and regard for the motor vehicle laws of the State of Tennessee.
10. Leavins failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to maintain a safe distance, failed to properly manage his speed, failed to properly manage his space, and/or failed to observe the Plaintiffs' vehicle and otherwise violated the Rules of the Road and/or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations when his commercial vehicle collided with the Plaintiffs' vehicle.
11. The Plaintiffs sustained personal injuries directly and proximately caused by the wrongful acts and/or omissions of the Defendants.

(Doc. 1 at 2, ¶¶7-ll). Arising from these facts, the Plaintiffs allege negligence against both Defendants (Counts One and Two), and "gross, willful, wanton and reckless negligence" against both Defendants (Count Three).

         II. STANDARD FOR EVALUATING VENUE

         It has been noted that, in evaluating whether venue is proper:

" '[t]he plaintiff must present only a prima facie showing of venue.' " Home Ins. Co. v. Thomas Indus., Inc., 896 F.2d 1352, 1355 (11th Cir.\990)(quotmgDelongEquipment Co. v. Washington Mills Abrasive Co., 840 F.2d 843, 845 (11th Cir.1988)). A district court may decide whether a plaintiffs choice of forum is proper by reference to factual allegations made in the plaintiffs complaint and supplemental evidence in the form of affidavits submitted by both parties, and the court need not conduct an evidentiary hearing. Id. The court will assume that facts alleged in the plaintiffs complaint are true if they are not controverted by the defendant. Id. But, even if the defendant submits evidence that conflicts with the plaintiffs factual allegations and evidence, "the court is inclined to give greater weight to the plaintiffs version of the jurisdictional facts and to construe such facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id. Essentially, the prima-facie standard, the determination of which may be made on the pleadings, boils down to one of 'plausibility'; to withstand a motion to transfer on the basis of plaintiffs venue of choice being improper, the plaintiff must show only that the venue chosen is plausibly proper. Cf. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ("To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ") (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). If the plaintiff meets this light standard, then the burden shifts to the defendant, as the movant, to show why venue is improper. Canal Ins. Co. v. Yelder, 2010 WL 2640241 at *1 (M.D.Ala. June 22, 2010) (Thompson, J.) ("As [defendant] Harco has objected to the venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), it bears 'the burden of establishing that venue is improper.' ") (quoting 17 James Wm. Moore, et al, Moore's Federal Practice § 110.01[5][c] (3d ed.2012)).

Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood, Inc. v. Black Swamp, Inc., 956 F.Supp.2d 1323, 1326-27 (M.D. Ala. ...


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