United States District Court, W.D. New York
For Diane Gorzynski, Plaintiff: Josephine A. Greco, LEAD ATTORNEY, Duane D. Schoonmaker, Greco Trapp, PLLC, Buffalo, NY.
For Jetblue Airways Corporation, Defendant: Alison N. Davis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Littler Mendelson, PC, Washington, DC; Arthur A. Herdzik, Chelus, Herdzik, Speyer & Monte, P.C., Buffalo, NY; Jill M. Lowell, Margaret A. Clemens, Littler Mendelson, P.C., Rochester, NY.
DECISION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Diane Gorzynski has filed a motion requesting that the Court determine that the January 21, 2014, text order of the Honorable Richard J. Arcara, United States District Judge, reassigning this matter to the Court's Rochester Division is void ab initio. (Dkt. 113). Alternatively, Plaintiff requests that the Court transfer this matter back to the Court's Buffalo Division. ( Id. ). Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion. (Dkt. 123). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is denied.
Plaintiff commenced this lawsuit on October 15, 2003, alleging that Defendant JetBlue Airways Corporation, her former employer, discriminated against her on the basis of her age and gender and retaliated against her for engaging in protected activity. (Dkt. 1). Plaintiff was employed by Defendant at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and her action was assigned to this Court's Buffalo Division.
The procedural history of this case (now in its eleventh year) is extensive, involving a complete grant of summary judgment in Defendant's favor (Dkt. 36), a subsequent reversal and remand by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Dkt. 41), and an original trial date set for February 1, 2013. (Dkt. 76). That original trial date was cancelled due to the demands of Judge Arcara's criminal calendar (Dkt. 99), and no adjourned trial date was set.
On September 13, 2013, the parties appeared for a status conference before Judge Arcara, wherein he informed the parties of his intention to transfer this matter to a District Judge in the Rochester Division. (Dkt. 103). On September 30, 2013, Plaintiff's counsel electronically filed a letter brief objecting to the proposed transfer on the basis that Plaintiff's alleged choice of forum and the convenience of witnesses supported holding the trial of this action in Buffalo. (Dkt. 104). On October 10, 2013, Defendant's counsel filed an opposing letter brief arguing that the parties' and the Court's interests in expediting the trial in this matter outweighed the minimal inconvenience of traveling to Rochester rather than Buffalo. (Dkt. 105). Plaintiff's counsel filed a reply letter brief on October 18, 2013. (Dkt. 106). Plaintiff's reply acknowledged that the Court had invited the parties to provide comment and discussion regarding the proposed transfer at the status conference held on September 13, 2013, and further argued that inconvenience to lay witnesses weighed against the proposed transfer. ( Id. ).
Judge Arcara entered a text order reassigning this case to the undersigned, a District Judge in the Court's Rochester Division, on January 21, 2014. (Dkt. 107). I held a status conference on February 12, 2014 (Dkt. 109), at which I scheduled the approximately three-week trial in this matter to commence in Rochester on April 21, 2014. (Dkt. 110). Plaintiff filed the instant motion on March 3, 2014. (Dkt. 113).
I. Judge Arcara's Transfer Order IsNotVoid Ab Initio.
Plaintiff argues that the sua sponte transfer of this case from the Buffalo Division to the Rochester Division should be evaluated under the transfer of venue standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). According to Plaintiff, a sua sponte transfer could only occur after a formal hearing. Plaintiff's position is contrary to the law and this District's local rules.
The Buffalo Division and the Rochester Division are not statutory divisions. Compare 28 U.S.C. § 112(d) (not establishing divisions within the Western District of New York) with, e.g., 28 U.S.C § 84(c) (establishing three divisions in the Central District of California) and 28 U.S.C. § 124 (establishing seven divisions in each of the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas); see also People v. Operation Rescue Nat'l, 69 F.Supp.2d 408, 416 n.4 (W.D.N.Y. 1999) (noting that " the court in Rochester is not a separate statutory 'division' of [the Western District ...