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DWYER v. GMC

April 5, 1994

BRIAN M. DWYER, As Personal Representative of the Estate of VICTOR LYTLE RIDDER, deceased, and on behalf of his surviving next of kin, including his children VICTOR RIDDER, KAREN RIDDER, KRISTIN RIDDER, MAUREEN RIDDER, MARK RIDDER, and BRIAN M. DWYER, As Personal Representative of the Estate of MARY JANE RIDDER, deceased, and on behalf of her surviving next of kin, including her children VICTOR RIDDER, KAREN RIDDER, KRISTIN RIDDER, MAUREEN RIDDER and MARK RIDDER, Plaintiffs,
v.
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, a foreign corporation, Defendant.


Motley


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY

MOTLEY, District Judge:

 This is a products liability action brought by Brian Dwyer as personal representative of the estates of Victor Lytle Ridder and Mary Jane Ridder, and on behalf of their surviving next of kin, including their children, against General Motors Corporation, ("GM"), for damages based on theories of negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty. GM now moves this court for an order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) transferring this action to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. For the reasons stated below, the defendant's motion is denied.

 BACKGROUND

 The plaintiffs and decedents are and were residents of the state of New York. The defendant, GM, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in the state of Michigan. GM does business in both Maryland and New York.

 On October 6, 1991, decedents Victor Lytle Ridder and his wife, Mary Jane Ridder, were traveling northbound on Maryland Interstate 295 in the Linthicum area of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Mr. Ridder was operating a 1989 Lincoln Continental 4-door and Mrs. Ridder was a passenger in the front seat of the vehicle. Eric David Stickland was traveling southbound on Interstate 295 in a 1987 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport 4-door hardtop. At some point in time, Mr. Stickland's vehicle crossed the median strip, entered the northbound lanes and collided with the Ridder's vehicle.

 Mr. Ridder was declared dead at the scene of the accident. Mrs. Ridder was taken to the University of Maryland Hospital's Shock Trauma Center, located in Baltimore, to be treated for severe injuries, but died shortly after her arrival. Eric Stickland also sustained serious injuries but survived the accident. The plaintiffs claim that GM's alleged negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty entitle them to wrongful death and survival damages in the amount of $ 10,000,000.

 DISCUSSION

 Title 28, § 1404(a) of the United States code provides that "for 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." A "district or division where it might have been brought" has been interpreted to mean a district where venue might have been proper and where the defendant would have been subject to process. Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 344, 80 S. Ct. 1084, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1254 (1960). The purpose of section 1404(a) "is to prevent the waste 'of time, energy and money' and 'to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense. . . .'" Hernandez v. Graebel Van Lines, 761 F. Supp. 983, 986 (E.D.N.Y. 1991) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616, 84 S. Ct. 805, 11 L. Ed. 2d 945 (1964)).

 "Motions for transfer lie within the broad discretion of the district court and are determined upon notions of convenience and fairness on a case-by-case basis." In re Cuyahoga Equipment Corp., 980 F.2d 110, 117 (2d Cir. 1992) (citing Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29, 108 S. Ct. 2239, 2243, 101 L. Ed. 2d 22 (1988)). The burden of demonstrating the propriety of a transfer lies with the moving party. Factors Etc., Inc. v. Pro Arts, Inc., 579 F.2d 215, 218 (2d Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 908, 99 S. Ct. 1215, 59 L. Ed. 2d 455 (1979); Arrow Electronics, Inc. v. Ducommun Inc., 724 F. Supp. 264, 265 (S.D.N.Y. 1989) (quoting Morales v. Navieras De Puerto Rico, 713 F. Supp. 711, 712 (S.D.N.Y. 1989)). Accordingly, "the moving party must make a clear-cut showing that a transfer is in the best interests of the litigation." Schieffelin & Co. v. Jack Co. of Boca, Inc., 725 F. Supp. 1314, 1321 (S.D.N.Y. 1989).

 Relevant factors for the Court to consider in making this decision include: (1) the convenience of the parties; (2) the convenience of the witnesses; (3) the relative ease of access of proof; (4) the availability of process to compel attendance of unwilling witnesses; (5) the weight accorded to plaintiff's choice of forum; (6) a forums' familiarity with the governing law; (7) trial efficiency and (8) the interest of justice. See, e.g., Berry v. New York State Dept. of Correctional Services, 808 F. Supp. 1106, 1110 (S.D.N.Y. 1992) (quoting Brierwood Shoe Corp. v. Sears Roebuck, 479 F. Supp. 563, 565 (S.D.N.Y. 1979)); Gibbs & Hill, Inc. v. Harbert Int'l, Inc., 745 F. Supp. 993, 996 (S.D.N.Y. 1990); Schieffelin & Co., 725 F. Supp. at 1321; Turner v. Hudson Transit Lines, Inc., 724 F. Supp. 242, 243 (S.D.N.Y. 1989); Schneider v. Sears, 265 F. Supp. 257, 263 (S.D.N.Y. 1967).

 I. Is Venue Proper in the District of Maryland.

 In addressing a transfer motion, the threshold question is whether the action could have been brought in the proposed transferee district. Arrow Electronics, 724 F. Supp. at 265. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) provides that in a diversity action, venue is proper in a judicial district (1) where any defendant resides if all defendants reside in the same state, (2) where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of the property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) in which defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced. The accident took place on a Maryland highway. Therefore, the action could have been brought in Maryland, a district where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.

 Having determined that venue would be proper in the District of Maryland, the court will now address the question of whether a transfer would be in ...


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