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Benjamin v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 13, 2015

IVAN BENJAMIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

KATHERINE POLK FAILLA, District Judge.

On March 24, 2015, Plaintiff initiated the instant action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and New York State law, alleging claims of assault, battery, and the use of excessive force. It is undisputed that all of the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred in Queens County or Nassau County, that Plaintiff resides in Queens County, and that the individual Defendant works in Queens County. For the reasons set forth in this Opinion, the Court sua sponte transfers this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The Complaint ("Compl.") (Dkt. #1) alleges, in relevant part, that on the evening of July 24, 2014, Plaintiff was driving with his fiancee and her daughter in the vicinity of 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue, Queens, New York, when members of the New York City Police Department (the "NYPD") from Patrol Borough Queens South stopped his vehicle. (Compl. ¶¶ 6, 15).[1] Plaintiff further alleges that he did not resist arrest, but that officers nonetheless pulled him out of his car, punched him in the head, took him to the ground, and then struck him in the head with a blunt object. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-18). Plaintiff was transported to the 105th Precinct in Queens; from there, he was brought by ambulance first to Long Island Jewish Hospital and subsequently to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. (Id. at ¶¶ 19-20, 22). Plaintiff alleges that he suffered, among other things, seizures as a result of the July 24 incident; he was treated for this and other medical conditions on October 5, 2014, at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. (Id. at ¶ 25).

B. The Instant Action

Plaintiff initiated this action in the Southern District of New York against the City of New York and several NYPD officers on March 24, 2015. (Dkt. #1). On March 26, 2015, this Court issued an Order requiring the parties to explain why this case should proceed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, rather than in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. (Dkt. #4). On April 1, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a letter indicating why venue was proper in this Court, and also requesting expedited discovery. (Dkt. #5). On April 8, 2015, Defendants submitted a letter in support of a transfer to the Eastern District of New York. (Dkt. #8).

DISCUSSION

A. Applicable Law

Courts have discretion to transfer a case sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1404. See Barnet v. Elan Corp., 236 F.R.D. 158, 164 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) ("Although a transfer pursuant to § 1404(a) is typically premised on the motion of a party, the statute is broad enough that a court can transfer a case on its own initiative." (citing Lead Indus. Ass'n, Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Admin., 610 F.2d 70, 79 n.17 (2d Cir. 1979))). Ordinarily, "[a] court may sua sponte transfer an action under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)" only "after giving both parties notice and an opportunity to be heard." Bona v. Barasch, No. 01 Civ. 2289 (MBM), 2003 WL 1395932, at *36 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 20, 2003), reconsidered on other grounds sub nom. Martinez v. Barasch, No. 01 Civ. 2289 (MBM), 2004 WL 1555191 (S.D.N.Y. July 12, 2004). Here, it is proper to consider a sua sponte transfer because the Court gave the parties notice of its intention to transfer venue in the March 26, 2015 Order, and permitted each party to be heard on the topic. ( See generally Dkt. #5, 8).

In determining whether transfer to another district is appropriate, courts generally consider the following non-exhaustive list of factors:

[i] the convenience of witnesses, [ii] the convenience of the parties, [iii] the locus of operative facts, [iv] the availability of process to compel the attendance of unwilling witnesses, [v] the location of relevant documents and the relative ease of access to sources of proof, [vi] the relative means of the parties, [vii] the forum's familiarity with the governing law, [viii] the weight accorded the plaintiff's choice of forum, and [ix] trial efficiency and the interest of justice, based on the totality of the circumstances.

Dealtime.com Ltd. v. McNulty, 123 F.Supp.2d 750, 755 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). At the same time, "[t]here is no rigid formula for balancing these factors and no single one of them is determinative." Larew v. Larew, No. 11 Civ. 5771 (BSJ) (GWG), 2012 WL 87616, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 10, 2012) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The location of counsel is not ordinarily entitled to any weight in this analysis. See, e.g., McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc. v. Jones, No. 12 Civ. 7085 (AJN), 2014 WL 988607, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 12, 2014) ("the location of counsel is typically not considered"); Azari v. B & H Photo Video, No. 06 Civ. 7825 ...


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