The opinion of the court was delivered by: Spatt, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
This diversity case is a personal injury action to recover
damages for injuries allegedly suffered by Richard B. Schwartz
("Schwartz" or the "plaintiff") when he slipped and fell on a
freshly-shampooed rug in the Newark Airport Marriott, a hotel
operated by defendant Marriott Hotel Services d/b/a Newark
Airport Marriott ("Newark Airport Marriott" or a "defendant").
Presently before the Court is a motion by the defendants to
case to the District Court for the District of New Jersey.
The complaint alleges that on April 28, 1999, Schwartz slipped
and fell on a freshly shampooed carpet in the Newark Airport
Marriott hotel. As a result of the fall, Schwartz sustained
physical injuries, some of which were permanent. He claims to
have required surgery on his right rotator cuff and to have
missed days of work. He seeks $500,000 in damages.
The complaint also alleges that the Newark Airport Marriott
was operated pursuant to an agreement between the hotel and
another defendant, Host Marriott, L.P. ("Host Marriott" or a
"defendant"). The plaintiff contends that the Newark Airport
Marriott and Host Marriott "were franchisees and/or subsidiaries
of" defendant Marriott Corporation ("Marriott Corporation").
According to the complaint, the Newark Airport Marriott is a
Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in New
Jersey; Host Marriott is a limited partnership with its
principal place of business in Maryland; and Marriott
Corporation is a Delaware corporation with its principal place
of business in Washington, D.C.
B. The Motion to Transfer
The defendants assert that transfer of this case to the
District of New Jersey is proper because the Newark Airport
Marriott is located in New Jersey; the plaintiff is the only
witness in the Eastern District of New York; inspection of the
hotel by counsel, the experts, and the jury would occur in New
Jersey; Marriott's non-party material witnesses are located in
New Jersey, which is beyond the subpoena power of this Court;
the documents necessary to Marriott's defense are in New Jersey;
the case involves an issue important to jurors in New Jersey,
namely, whether the Newark Airport Marriott was negligent; the
case involves the application of New Jersey law; and the only
reason the case is pending in this district is because the
plaintiff lives here.
Schwartz opposes transfer of the case. He points out that the
distance between the courts is short and, thus, real
inconvenience to the parties is not a factor. Schwartz states
that each venue is inconvenient to one of the parties, because
the Newark Airport Marriott is in New Jersey, and he lives in
New York. He also asserts that the evidence is located in both
venues, because the accident occurred in New Jersey, and he
received medical treatment in New York. He claims that venue
does not affect the ability of Marriott to compel the attendance
of its witnesses because the witnesses likely live within 100
miles of the Court and, in any event, are under Marriott's
control. On the other hand, states Schwartz, his nonparty
witnesses are not under his control and live in Nassau County.
Schwartz agrees that New Jersey law applies in this case but
argues that the case does not involve complex issues of law.
Schwartz further alleges that this case does not involve issues
of social consequence that warrant transferring the case to New
Jersey. He claims that his choice of forum should be accorded
A motion to change venue from one federal district court to
another when venue is initially proper, is governed by
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which provides, in relevant part:
[F]or the convenience of the 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.
The goal of Section 1404(a) "is to prevent waste of `time,
energy and money' and `to protect litigants, witnesses and the
public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.'" Van
Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616, 84 S.Ct. 805, 809, 11
L.Ed.2d 945 (1964) (quoting Continental Grain Co. v. Barge
FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26-27, 80 S.Ct. 1470, 4 L.Ed.2d 1540
(1960)). "[M]otions to transfer are 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 Equip. 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, 101 L.Ed.2d 22 (1988)).
The inquiry on a motion to transfer venue is twofold. First,
the Court must determine whether the action "might have been
brought" in the forum to which the movant seeks to have the case
transferred. If so, the second issue for the court to resolve is
whether the "convenience of the parties and witnesses" and the
"interests of justice" warrant transferring the case. See
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); Merkur v. Wyndham Int'l Inc., 2001 WL 477268
*1 (E.D.N.Y. March 30, 2001) (citing Baker v. ...