United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
MARGO K. BRODIE, District Judge.
On February 27, 2013, Plaintiff Jerold Williams commenced the above-captioned case against Defendants Frank Martz Coach Company ("Martz"), FH Family LP ("FH Family"), Patrick Graham, and Liang Tian, in New York State Supreme Court, Kings County. On April 3, 2013, Defendants removed the case to this Court. On July 10, 2013, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of all claims against FH Family ("July 10, 2013 Stipulation"). (Docket Entry No. 34.) On July 10, 2013, Martz and Graham ("Defendants") requested a pre-motion conference in anticipation of, inter alia, moving to transfer this action to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Docket Entry No. 33.) On September 12, 2013, the Court held a pre-motion conference where it heard oral argument and denied Defendants' application to transfer without prejudice. (Minute Entry dated Sept. 12, 2013.) Defendants now move pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to transfer this action to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. For the reasons discussed below, the motion to transfer venue is denied.
a. The Parties
Martz is a bus company, based in Pennsylvania, that operates bus routes throughout the United States. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Martz leased and operated a 2008 MCI M819 bus bearing a Pennsylvania license plate (the "Bus"). Graham, employed by Martz, operated the Bus in the course and scope of his employment with Martz. ( Id. ¶¶ 5, 10.) Tian was and is a resident of Rochester, New York. ( Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff was and is a resident of Kings County, New York. ( Id. ¶ 1.)
b. March 6, 2011 accident
On or about March 6, 2011, Graham drove the Bus to New York, where he picked up passengers, including Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶ 14.) While traveling north on Interstate 380 in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, the Bus and a 2007 Nissan (the "Car"), operated by Tian, "crashed, " and the Bus overturned. ( Id ¶¶ 15-18.) Another vehicle, occupied by Rene Phillips and operated by her husband Lamont Phillips, also crashed. (Def. Mem. 2.) Mr. Phillips sustained fatal injuries. ( Id. ) Plaintiff "sustained severe, serious and permanent personal injuries." (Compl. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff alleges that the accident and Plaintiff's injuries were caused by the carelessness, recklessness and negligence of the Defendants in the ownership, operation, management, control and supervision of their respective motor vehicles. ( Id. ¶ 20.)
a. Standard of Review
"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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); see also New York Marine & Gen. Ins. Co. v. Lafarge N. Am., Inc., 599 F.3d 102, 112 (2d Cir. 2010) (noting the district courts' discretionary power to transfer for the convenience of parties and witnesses (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a))). In deciding a motion to transfer venue pursuant to § 1404(a), a district court considers: "(1) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (2) the convenience of witnesses, (3) the location of relevant documents and relative ease of access to sources of proof, (4) the convenience of parties, (5) the locus of operative facts, (6) the availability of process to compel the attendance of unwilling witnesses, and (7) the relative means of the parties." D.H. Blair & Co., Inc. v. Gottdiener, 462 F.3d 95, 106-07 (2d Cir. 2006) (alteration, citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Lafarge, 599 F.3d at 112 (listing factors). Courts have also recognized the importance of considering trial efficiency and the "interest of justice, " based on the totality of the circumstances. See Recurrent Capital Bridge Fund I, LLC v. ISR Sys. & Sensors Corp., 875 F.Supp.2d 297, 304 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (including these additional factors); Fellus v. Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc., 783 F.Supp.2d 612, 618 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) (same).
It is the burden of the moving party to "mak[e] a strong case for a transfer." Filmline (Cross-Country) Prods., Inc. v. United Artists Corp., 865 F.2d 513, 521 (2d Cir. 1989) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Xiu Feng Li v. Hock, 371 F.Appx. 171, 175 (2d Cir. 2010) ("the burden is on the movant to show that the transfer is justified"). Courts apply the "clear and convincing evidence standard" in determining whether to grant a motion to transfer, Lafarge, 599 F.3d at 113-14, and operate with considerable discretion, see Forjone v. California, 425 F.Appx. 73, 74 (2d Cir. 2011) ("The determination whether to grant a change of venue requires a balancing of conveniences, which is left to the sound discretion of the district court." (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).
b. Application of the factors
Defendants argue that transfer to the Middle District of Pennsylvania will provide easier access to all witneses and proof, and serve the interest of justice. (Def. Mem. 5.) Plaintiff argues that Defendants fail to show by clear and convicing evidence that transfer is justified. (Pl. Mem. 1.) Based on the assessment of the required factors below, ...