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Ducatel v. Manspeizer

March 13, 2009

SAMUEL DUCATEL, AND SOBER TAXI, INC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WARREN MANSPEIZER, AND NEIL M. MANSPEIZER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge

ONLINE PUBLICATION ONLY

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This personal injury and property damage suit arises out of a motor vehicle accident, which occurred on September 6, 2005 in the Lincoln Tunnel. The Lincoln Tunnel runs beneath the Hudson River, and connects New Jersey with the borough of Manhattan, in the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs Samuel Ducatel and Sober Taxi, Inc. (collectively "Ducatel") claim the accident was caused by defendants' negligence. Defendants Warren Manspeizer and Neil M. Manspeizer (collectively "Manspeizer") move to transfer venue from this district to the Southern District of New York pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a). For the reasons set for below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

The following facts, taken from the plaintiffs' complaint, are assumed to be true. On September 6, 2005, a motor vehicle owned by Warren Manspeizer and operated by Neil Manspeizer rear-ended a motor vehicle operated by Ducatel and owned by Sober Taxi, Inc. in the north tube of the Lincoln Tunnel, causing personal injuries and property damages. On August 22, 2008, Ducatel filed this action against Manspeizer in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Queens, seeking $1,000,000 in damages for personal injuries and $7,500 in property damages. On October 17, 2008, Manspeizer removed the case to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) based on the diversity of citizenship between the parties, as Samuel Ducatel is a resident and citizen of Nassau County, New York; Sober Taxi, Inc. is a domestic corporation, citizen and resident of Queens County, New York; and Neil and Warren Manspeizer are both citizens and residents of New Jersey.

In this motion, Manspeizer claims that transfer of the case to the Southern District of New York is appropriate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a)(2) because the accident occurred there and because a trial in that district would be more convenient to the witnesses. Oral argument took place on March 13, 2009.

DISCUSSION

A. The Statute Governing Venue in Removed Cases

The general provision governing venue in diversity actions, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) provides that a civil action in which jurisdiction is founded solely on diversity of citizenship may be brought only in (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, . or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.

Here, Manspeizer argues that venue is improper under § 1391(a)(2) because all of the events giving rise to the claim -- the accident in the Lincoln Tunnel -- occurred in the jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York.

Manspeizer's argument that venue does not properly lie in this district is without merit. As the Second Circuit has stated, "[T]he removal statute, and not the ordinary federal venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391, governs venue in removed cases." PT United Can Co. v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 138 F.3d 65, 72 (2d Cir. 1998). The court explained:

Thus, a party may challenge removal as itself improper, or as having been made to the wrong district court if the case was removed to a district court other than that "embracing" the state court in which the action was brought, but one may not challenge venue in the district court as of right, according to that district court's venue rules, as if the case had originally been brought there.

Id. at 72; see also Polizzi v. Cowles Magazines, Inc., 345 U.S. 663, 665 (1953) (when an action is removed to federal court, the general venue provision of ยง 1391 "has no application"). Under the removal statute, 28 ...


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