United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
STEVEN W. CLARK, Plaintiff,
WINSTON TRANS, INC., et al., Defendants. ELAM LANG, et al., Plaintiffs,
WINSTON TRANS, INC., et al., Defendants.
DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Doc. # 8). For the convenience of the
parties and witnesses, Defendants request that the court
either dismiss these cases without prejudice or transfer them
to the United States District for the Eastern District of
Oklahoma. (Id.). The Motion has been fully briefed
(Docs. # 9, 12, 17, 18) and is ripe for review. After careful
review, and for the reasons explained below, the court
concludes that the Eastern District of Oklahoma is a more
appropriate and convenient forum for these cases.
Accordingly, Defendants' Motion to Transfer (Doc. # 8) is
due to be granted.
separate lawsuits have been filed which arise out of a
collision that occurred on January 9, 2018 at 4:30 a.m. near
Muskogee, Oklahoma (Doc. # 12 at 2). (Clark v. Winston
Trans Inc., et al., 6:18-cv-1820-RDP; Lang v.
Winston Trans Inc., et al., 6:18-cv-1837-RDP). These
cases each allege that Defendant Clyde Savage, an Alabama
resident, was driving a loaded 18-wheeler tractor trailer rig
owned by Defendant Winston Trans, Inc., an Alabama
corporation. (Clark, Doc. # 1 at ¶ 6). While
Defendant Savage attempted to turn left onto Highway 16,
Plaintiffs Clark and Lang, both residents of Oklahoma, drove
their cars into the driver's side of Defendant
Savage's trailer. (Id. at ¶¶ 8, 11;
Lang, Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 9, 11). Plaintiffs
allege they suffered significant personal injuries as a
result of the collision, particularly Plaintiff Lang who
claims she sustained permanent neurological damage.
(Id. at ¶ 14; Id. at ¶ 13).
have filed suit against Defendants asserting claims for
negligence/wantonness, negligence and/or wantonness per
se, and negligent/wanton hiring, training and
supervision. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-28;
Id. at ¶¶ 14-26). Plaintiffs have also
alleged loss of consortium and property damage.
(Lang, Id. at ¶¶ 27-32).
November 11, 2018, Defendants' filed the subject Motion
to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue.
(Doc. # 8). They argue that the Eastern District of Oklahoma
would be a more convenient forum for the parties and
witnesses. (Doc. # 8). In support of their Motion, Defendants
point to the following:
1. After the collision, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported
to the scene and conducted an audio-recorded statement of
Defendant Savage. (Doc. # 12 at 4).
2. Two other Oklahoma residents also drove into Defendant
Savage's rig-Kaili Brock and Michael Rivera.
(Id.). Brock has filed suit against Defendants in
the District Court of Muskogee County, Oklahoma.
(Id. at 5).
3. Plaintiffs were treated by several Oklahoma medical
providers, including St. John Medical Center, WH Hastings
Hospital, Ortho & Trauma Service of Oklahoma, and The
Orthopaedic Center. (Id. at 4).
4. The parties have retained experts residing in Oklahoma.
(Id. at 5).
court granted Defendants' Unopposed Motion to Consolidate
the Clark and Lang cases for pretrial
purposes only. (Doc. # 21). As a result and by agreement of
the parties, the court's ruling on the pending Motion
(Doc. #8) applies equally to both cases and Defendant need
not file a similar motion in the Lang case.
1404(a) 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 or to any district
or division to which all parties have consented.” 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a). Section 1404(a) is “merely a
codification of the doctrine of forum non conveniens
for the subset of cases in which the transferee forum is
within the federal court system; in such cases, Congress has
replaced the traditional remedy of outright dismissal with
transfer.” Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist.
Court for W. Dist. of Texas, 571 U.S. 49, 60 (2013)
(citing Sinochem Int'l Co. v. Malaysia Int'l
Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 430 (2007)). Consistent
with this precedent, the court agrees that, if this Motion is
granted, transfer rather than dismissal is the preferred
courts have broad discretion in deciding whether to transfer
a case. A.J. Taft Coal Co. v. Barnhart, 291
F.Supp.2d 1290, 1307 (N.D. Ala. 2003). However, the burden
rests on the party invoking transfer to overcome the
presumption in favor of the plaintiff's choice of forum.
In re Ricoh Corp., 870 F.2d 570, 573 (11th Cir.
1989) (noting that a plaintiff's choice of forum is
traditionally given considerable deference). In deciding
whether Section 1404(a) transfer is appropriate, the court
considers whether (1) there is an adequate alternative forum,
(2) the public and private factors weigh in favor of transfer
and (3) ...