SW Legal studies in Business

Trial to Be Moved Due to Factors Favoring Alternative Venue
Description

Appeals court held that defendant’s request to change venue from one federal court to another would be granted since all factors favored the other location; there was no tie to the venue where the case was filed except that the plaintiff chose that court.

Topic Court Procedure
Key Words

Venue; Transfer; Factors; Interests

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

A Volkswagen (VW) on a highway in Dallas was struck from behind and propelled into a truck parked on the side of a freeway. One person in the VW was injured and one was killed. The survivor sued VW, contending that design defects in the car caused the injury and death. The survivor filed sued in federal court in Marshall, Texas, which is 155 miles east of Dallas. VW moved to transfer venue to federal court in Dallas, contending that the VW was bought in Dallas, the accident occurred there, Dallas residents witnessed the accident, Dallas police responded to the accident, medical care was given in Dallas, the driver who struck the VW is in Dallas, and no party related to the litigation lives in Marshall. The district court refused to move the case. VW appealed.

Decision

Transfer of case ordered. Under the forum non conveniens doctrine, a court may decline jurisdiction if the case more conveniently could be tried in another forum. A transfer of venue must be in the interest of justice. The party seeing to transfer venue must show good cause. Factors relating to private interests are: 1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; 2) the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses; 3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and 4) all other practical problems. Factors relating to public interests are: 1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; 2) local interests in having local interests decided at home; 3) the familiarity of the forum with the law that will govern the case; and 4) the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws. Some of these factors are not relevant here; the ones that are weigh in favor of moving to Dallas. The only reason the case was in court in Marshall was because plaintiff decided to file there; there was no other factor favoring that location.

Citation

In re: Volkswagen of America, 545 F.3d 304 (5th Cir., 2008)

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