United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
removing Mr. Gray's proceeding from state court to
federal court, HireRight moved for transfer of this case to
the Middle District of Tennessee.
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).
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).
“‘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)).
decision as to whether to transfer a case is discretionary.
Stewart Org., 487 U.S. at 29, 108 S.Ct. at 2244.