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Gray v. Hireright, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.

April 5, 2019

MICHAEL GRAY, Plaintiff,
v.
HIRERIGHT, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge

         Defendant HireRight, LLC moves pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to transfer this proceeding brought by plaintiff Michael Gray for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. For the reasons discussed below, the motion to transfer is denied.

         I. ALLEGED FACTS

         Mr. Gray applied in or around August 2018 for employment with Communications Solutions, LLC (“CS”), and after interviewing him, CS hired him. Response to Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue, Doc. 26, p. 1. He worked at CS for approximately two weeks, at which time CS told him that his employment was being terminated because his consumer report, which had been generated by HireRight, indicated that he had lied during the hiring process concerning the absence of a criminal record in the last seven years. Id. Specifically, the report indicated that Mr. Gray had been charged with or convicted of felony charges within the seven years preceding his employment application. Petition, Doc. 1-1, ¶¶ 11-17. Mr. Gray advised CS that he had not been charged or convicted of any crime in the last seven years. Doc. 26, p. 1. CST nonetheless terminated Mr. Gray on the basis of HireRight's purportedly inaccurate, misleading, and incomplete consumer report. Id.; see also Petition, Doc. 1-1, ¶ 14.

         HireRight is a background screening company. Defendant's Suggestions in Support of Its Motion to Transfer to the Middle District of Tennessee Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), Doc. 12, p. 6. “[I]ts U.S. hub of operations for North American public criminal record processing” and its “operations department for the United States” are in Nashville, Tennessee. Id. “The operations department is responsible for creating, maintaining, and implementing policies and procedures regarding the preparation and delivery of background reports, including compliance with the FCRA.” Id. HireRight states that “[t]he individuals with knowledge of the implementation of those procedures, including as specifically applied to this case, are located in Tennessee.” Id., pp. 6-7. The team of “Investigative Specialists” that perform the research and analysis that may be included in the background reports “are primarily located in Tennessee.” Id., p. 7.

         Of HireRight's 1, 900 employees, 260 are in Tennessee. Id., p. 6. In contrast, HireRight has just one employee based in Missouri, a person who works from home in a “technical support capacity” and does not process background reports. Id.

         Mr. Gray initiated a putative class action against HireRight on November 6, 2018, alleging violations of the FCRA. Doc. 1-1, Petition. He alleges that HireRight produced a consumer report concerning Plaintiff that was “inaccurate, misleading, and incomplete, ” and that HireRight's “failure to utilize procedures designed to comply with the unambiguous mandates of the FCRA when producing consumer reports is negligent, reckless and willful.” Doc. 1-1, Petition, ¶¶ 10, 23. He seeks to represent three nationwide classes defined as follows: (1) “[a]ll individuals who were the subject of one or more consumer reports in which the Defendant identified an individual as having a [f]elony or [m]isdemeanor record in the last seven years when they did not, from November 6, 2013, through the conclusion of this matter”; (2) “[a]ll individuals who were the subject of one or more consumer reports in which the Defendant identified the [c]ourt [r]ecords as being within the last seven years but included records beyond seven years, from November 6, 2013, through the conclusion of this matter”; and (3) “[a]ll individuals who were the subject of one or more consumer reports in which Defendant failed to include information specifying that the consumer had no criminal records in the last seven years from November 6, 2013, through the conclusion of this matter.” Id., ¶ 29. He seeks statutory and punitive damages as well as costs and attorneys' fees, but not actual damages. Id., ¶¶ 50-52, p. 9, ¶¶ c and d.

         After removing Mr. Gray's proceeding from state court to federal court, HireRight moved for transfer of this case to the Middle District of Tennessee.

         II. Standard

         The Court may “transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought, ” so long as it is “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Thus, after the appropriateness of venue in the proposed forum is established, the Court must undertake “‘individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.'” Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29, 108 S.Ct. 2239, 2244 (1988) (citation omitted).

         “In general, federal courts give considerable deference to a plaintiff's choice of forum and thus the party seeking a transfer under section 1404(a) typically bears the burden of proving that a transfer is warranted.” Terra Int'l, Inc. v. Mississippi Chem. Corp., 119 F.3d 688, 695 (8th Cir. 1997). However, “where there are hundreds of potential plaintiffs, all equally entitled voluntarily to invest themselves with the corporation's cause of action and all of whom could with equal show of right go into their many home courts, the claim of any one plaintiff that a forum is appropriate merely because it is his home forum is considerably weakened.” Koster v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., 330 U.S. 518, 524 (1947).

         A “‘transfer should not be granted when to do so would merely shift, rather than eliminate, the inconvenience of the parties.'” Halton v. Am. Int'l Grp., Inc., No. 06-0443, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92598, at *6 (E.D. Wis. Dec. 18, 2006) (quoting Ellis Corp. v. Team Textile Corp., 574 F.Supp. 170, 173 (N.D. Ill. 1983)).

         The decision as to whether to transfer a case is discretionary. Stewart Org., 487 U.S. at 29, 108 S.Ct. at 2244.

         III. ...


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