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Pilevesky v. SunTrust Bank

November 22, 2010

PHILIP PILEVESKY AND LOUIS P. MIRANDO, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SUNTRUST BANK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiffs Philip Pilevsky and Louis P. Mirando commenced this action seeking declaratory relief in connection with certain guaranty agreements. Pending before the Court is:

(1) Defendant's motion to transfer venue; and (2) Plaintiffs' motion to amend the Complaint to add Raymond Zimmerman as an additional Plaintiff. For the following reasons: (1) Defendant's motion to transfer venue is DENIED; and (2) Plaintiffs' motion to amend is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

On November 20, 2007, Defendant SunTrust Bank ("SunTrust") entered into a commercial loan arrangement with non-party The Village of Fair Oaks Owner LLC ("Fair Oaks"). Compl. ¶ 4. The arrangement consisted of two promissory notes and related agreements, including "certain guaranty agreements allegedly executed by Plaintiffs." Id.

On April 15, 2010, Plaintiffs commenced this action in New York Supreme Court alleging that SunTrust breached various obligations it owed under the guaranty agreements. SunTrust promptly removed to this Court, and now seeks to transfer this case to the Eastern District of Virginia.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Transfer Venue

A. Standard of Review

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) states 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." Section 1404(a) strives "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, 11 L.Ed. 2d 945 (1964) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

To transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), the Court engages in a two-step inquiry. See Frasca v. Yaw, 787 F. Supp. 327, 330 (E.D.N.Y. 1992). First, the court asks whether the action "might have been brought" in the requested transferee court. Frasca, 787 F. Supp. at 330. "If the proposed venue is proper, the court then considers whether the transfer will serve the convenience of witnesses and parties and is in the interests of justice." Kroll v. Lieberman, 244 F. Supp. 2d 100, 102 (E.D.N.Y. 2003). When analyzing the second step, the Court examines several factors, including: (1) convenience of the parties; (2) convenience of witnesses; (3) relative means of the parties; (4) locus of operative facts and relative ease of access to sources of proof; (5) attendance of witnesses; (6) the weight accorded the plaintiff's choice of forum; (7) calendar congestion; (8) the desirability of having the case tried by the forum familiar with the substantive law to be applied; (9) practical difficulties; and (10) trial efficiency and how best to serve the interests of justice, based on an assessment of the totality of material circumstances. See Neil Bros. Ltd. v. World Wide Lines, Inc., 425 F. Supp. 2d 325, 327-28 (E.D.N.Y. 2006). None of these factors are dispositive; rather, the Court weighs them all in making its determination. Citigroup Inc. v. City Holding Co., 97 F. Supp. 2d 549, 561 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); see also Frasca, 787 F. Supp. at 330. In so weighing, the Court has broad discretion to determine whether transfer is warranted. See Neil Bros., 425 F. Supp. 2d at 328.

B. Could this Action have been brought in Virginia?

Here, Plaintiffs argue that the Court should not reach the multi-part balancing test because this action could not have been commenced in the Eastern District of Virginia to begin with. This argument is meritless. It is undisputed that the SunTrust employees who negotiated the guarantees were based in Virginia, that the guarantees are related to a Virginia real estate development, and that SunTrust is subject to personal jurisdiction in Virginia. Moreover, complete diversity exists both in this District and in the Eastern District of Virginia. Thus, there is no reason why Plaintiffs could not have chosen to sue in the requested transferee forum.

C. Should this Action be Transferred?

Of course, the fact that Plaintiffs could have sued in the Eastern District of Virginia does not, in any way, imply that this Court should transfer venue to that forum. Rather, it means only that the Court should consider several factors, and then determine whether ...


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