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Karam v. New York Power Authority

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 19, 2017

MARK KARAM, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK POWER AUTHORITY, CHRISTINE SCHMITT, JAMES MUSCATELLO and RICHARD DOUGLASS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VINCENT L. BRICCETTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Mark Karam brings this employment discrimination action against his current employer, the New York Power Authority (“NYPA”), and three fellow NYPA employees.

         Defendants move to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). (Doc. #30).

         For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff resides in the Utica, New York, area in upstate New York, and works in a NYPA facility in Utica. Utica is located in the Northern District of New York. NYPA is a quasi-governmental corporation that operates power-generating facilities and sells electricity to customers throughout the state. NYPA is headquartered in White Plains, New York, in the Southern District of New York. The courthouse to which this case is assigned is also located in White Plains. Utica is approximately a 3½ hour drive from the White Plains courthouse. The Northern and Southern Districts of New York are, of course, adjacent to one another. Although the alleged underlying discriminatory conduct by defendant Douglass took place in Utica, plaintiff allegedly complained about that conduct to NYPA's Human Resources department in White Plains. Material decisions regarding plaintiff's employment were allegedly made at NYPA headquarters in White Plains; for example, plaintiff claims that his supervisor, defendant Schmitt, who is based in White Plains, retaliated against him for complaining about Douglass. Plaintiff also alleges that NYPA employees in White Plains decided to ignore his complaints about Douglass and to take no remedial action with respect to Douglass. Relevant documents are maintained in both Utica and White Plains. Of the ten potential witnesses identified by the parties, five are based in White Plains and five are based in Utica. All ten witnesses are NYPA employees.

         Plaintiff commenced this action on August 9, 2016 (Doc. #1), and defendants were all served in September 2016. (Docs. ##11-16). Defendants answered on October 31, 2016 (Docs. ##15-18), and filed the instant motion on February 27, 2017 (Doc. #26).[1]

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). “The purpose of § 1404(a) is to prevent waste of time, energy and money and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.” In re Stillwater Mining Co. Sec. Litig., 2003 WL 21087953, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. May 12, 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         “Absent consent, a motion to transfer venue requires a two-part inquiry: first, whether the action to be transferred might have been brought in the transferee court; and second, whether considering the convenience of parties and witnesses, and the interest of justice, a transfer is appropriate.” Mohsen v. Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc., 2013 WL 5312525, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 23, 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         It is the moving party's burden to make a clear and convincing showing that transfer is appropriate. N.Y. Marine & Gen. Ins. Co. v. Lafarge N. Am., Inc., 599 F.3d 102, 114 (2d Cir. 2010).

         II. To Transfer ...


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