to travel to Maryland in order to go forward with their claim would merely increase the financial burdens they already face. Any added expenses that GM might incur as a consequence of defending itself in this District do not justify shifting these expenses to plaintiffs. Accordingly, transfer is not favored here.
III. Locus of Operative Facts and Relative Ease of Access to Sources of proof.
Defendant's claim that because the accident occurred in Maryland and all sources of proof, including the car, are located in Maryland, that District is the locus of operative facts and would provide the easiest access to all relevant evidence. The court disagrees. In light of the fact that plaintiffs have based this action on theories of product liability, conduct which could result in findings of negligence, strict liability or breach of warranties would have occurred in the District where the majority of defendant's business decisions such as design, marketing, testing and distribution were made. E.g., Hodson v. A.H. Robins Co., Inc., 528 F. Supp. 809, 815 (E.D. Va. 1981). Michigan is GM's principal place of business. It is most probable that defendant makes it most important business decisions in that District. Accordingly, the majority of the records and other sources of proof for the determination of liability on the product would be found in Michigan. Therefore, Maryland is neither the locus of operative facts nor the locus of easier access to sources of proof.
IV. Attendance of Witnesses.
The ability to compel the attendance of witnesses is an important factor in the court's determination of a transfer motion. Arrow Electronics, 724 F. Supp. at 266. However, the fact that defendant's witnesses who could provide the most pertinent testimony on the subject of product liability would be their own experts who would be in their employ, renders it unnecessary to compel their testimony. Any of the Maryland witnesses' testimony deemed necessary in this case could be offered to the jury via deposition.
V. Weight Accorded to Plaintiffs' Choice of Forum.
Defendant argues that plaintiffs' choice of forum should not be accorded much significance because their choice is not the locus of operative facts. Plaintiffs' choice of forum is significant and will not be disturbed, unless the balance of factors weighs heavily in favor of a transfer. Seagoing Uniform Corp. v. Texaco, Inc., 705 F. Supp. 918, 936 (S.D.N.Y. 1989) (citing Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 91 L. Ed. 1055, 67 S. Ct. 839 (1947)). However, plaintiffs' choice of forum is accorded less weight where the plaintiffs' chosen forum is neither their home nor the place where the operative facts of the action occurred. Reeder v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, No. 92 Civ. 5455, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18263, at *11 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 2, 1992). Given that 1) defendant is neither a New York resident nor a Maryland resident 2) plaintiffs are New York residents and 3) the operative facts in all likelihood occurred in Michigan, this factor dictates against transfer.
VI. Trial Court's Familiarity with the Governing Law.
Defendant argues that Maryland law would govern in this action and, therefore, the District Court in Maryland would be better suited to decide this action. "The fact that the law of another jurisdiction governs the outcome of the case is a factor accorded little weight on a motion to transfer, however, especially in an instance such as this where no complex questions of foreign law are involved." Vassallo v. Niedermeyer, 495 F. Supp. 757 (S.D.N.Y. 1980); see also Nat. Patent Dev. Corp. v. American Hospital Supply, 616 F. Supp. 114, 119 (S.D.N.Y. 1984). Therefore, whether the substantive law of New York or Maryland applies in the instant action is of little consequence in the determination of this motion.
VII. Trial Efficiency and the Interest of Justice.
Courts should also consider the "practical problems that would make the trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive." Ryer, 307 F. Supp. at 729; Hernandez, 761 F. Supp. at 991. Defendant claims that the material circumstances and factors of this case weigh in favor of adjudicating this case in Maryland. However, records, investigative reports and other such documents could easily be brought into this District. Depositions of most of the non-party witnesses listed by defendant could be used. Additionally, as stated, supra, it is conceivable that the majority of the necessary documentation concerning liability would be found at defendant's principal place of business and not in Maryland.
It is also appropriate when deciding whether to transfer a case to compare the relative state of trial calendar congestion in the relevant districts. Ryer, 307 F. Supp. at 278. Defendant notes that, generally, it takes more time for an action to reach the trial calendar in the Southern District of New York than in the District of Maryland. While in most instances this may be true, this particular court's docket is not nearly as back-logged as the majority of the docket's in this District. Indeed this case could conceivably go to trial sooner than it would in Maryland. Given this situation, this factor does not favor a transfer.
Finally, while the residents of Maryland have an interest in this litigation in light of the fact that the accident occurred in their state, New York residents have a greater interest in seeing their fellow residents compensated for their losses.
For the reasons set forth above, the court finds that the defendant has not met the burden of showing that a transfer is in the best interests of the adjudication of this case. Accordingly, the motion to transfer this action to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland is denied.
Dated: April 5, 1994
New York, New York
Constance Baker Motley
United States District Judge
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