The opinion of the court was delivered by: HURD
The defendant, Jeffrey G. Kelly, has moved for a change of venue to the Southern District of New York of Action No. 1. He has also moved to consolidate the above two cases, and should consolidation be granted, to transfer venue of both cases to the Southern District. Plaintiff Roxanne Kelly is opposed to both motions.
Peter, Stephen, and Jeffrey Kelly are brothers involved in a dispute over the division of the estate of their mother, Harriet Kelly.
In Action No. 1, plaintiff Roxanne Kelly (Peter's wife), accuses her husband's brother (Jeffrey), of slander allegedly occurring during a telephone conference call with several lawyers.
Plaintiff claims that defendant Jeffrey Kelly accused her of having forged Harriet Kelly's signature on legal documents, which resulted in considerable damage to her reputation since this statement was made in the presence of the executor of Harriet Kelly's will. His defense is that his statement was true.
In Action No. 2, plaintiff Peter Kelly accuses his brothers and their wives of exerting undue influence over his mother during her final illness, resulting in his exclusion from his inheritance under her will through the creation of a subsequent inter vivos trust and transferral of property benefitting his brothers and their wives.
Plaintiffs Roxanne Kelly and her husband Peter Kelly, reside in Florida, while the defendant Jeffrey Kelly and the additional defendants in Action No. 2 all reside in New York. Jeffrey Kelly resided in the Northern District of New York at the time of the telephone conference call, and at the time these cases were commenced, but he and his wife, defendant Linda Smythe Kelly no longer reside here. Defendants Stephen Kelly and his wife Susan M. Kelly reside in the Eastern District of New York. Harriet Kelly lived and died in Suffolk County in the Eastern District, and all of the events giving rise to Action No. 2 took place there.
As to a change in venue, defendant Jeffrey Kelly claims that since none of the parties or witnesses are now located in the Northern District, Action No. 1 should be transferred to the Southern District where it would be convenient for all parties and witnesses. Defendant argues that tremendous savings in costs to the witnesses to travel from New York to Albany would be achieved. Defendant observes that since the plaintiff lives in Florida, there would be no difference in cost for her to fly to New York City or to Albany, and there is no greater burden for her to allow the case to be transferred elsewhere.
Plaintiff Roxanne Kelly responds that Albany is more convenient for her since she could stay with friends there during the course of the trial, but she has no place to stay in New York City. She also claims to be afraid to travel to New York City. Further, plaintiff observes that the Northern District is the logical place for the case to be heard since the allegedly slanderous statement was made there, and the defendant resided there at the time the statement was made, and at the time the suit was filed.
As to the matter of consolidation, defendant Jeffrey Kelly claims that these two actions arise from the same events, and that they logically belong together. He points out that inconsistent verdicts could result from two separate trials on the same points. He claims that the two cases involve the same witnesses and events, and that two separate trials would require substantial duplication of discovery for both sides. Plaintiff Roxanne Kelly claims that these two matters are entirely separate and do not arise from the same events.
The burden of proving that a matter should be moved from one district to another, rests with the movant. Aquatic Amusement Ass'n, Ltd. v. Walt Disney World Co., 734 F. Supp. 54, 56 (N.D.N.Y. 1990). The movant bears a heavy burden to show that a case should be heard in another forum, "for a plaintiff's choice of forum is accorded considerable weight, and will not be disturbed except upon a clear-cut showing that convenience and justice for all parties demands that the litigation proceed elsewhere." First Fed. Sav. Bank v. Tazzia, 696 F. ...