United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
TAMMY COOPER, surviving spouse and heir at law of GARY COOPER, deceased, Plaintiff,
FCA U.S. LLC, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CHANGE OF VENUE
KAYS, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
case arises out of a motor-vehicle collision in Caplinger
Mills, Cedar County, Missouri. Plaintiff Tammy Cooper alleges
that Defendant FCA US's 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 Pickup Truck
was defective in design (Doc. 1). This defect led to a
roll-over accident, killing Gary Cooper. Now before the Court
is Defendant FCA US's Motion for Change of Venue (Doc.
5). Defendant requests transfer from the Western Division to
the Southern Division of the United States District Court for
the Western District of Missouri. For the reasons set forth
below, Defendant's motion for transfer of venue is
DENIED, and its motion to stay is DENIED AS MOOT.
August 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed her complaint in the Western
Division alleging proper jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332 because complete diversity exists among the parties and
the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000 exclusive of
interest and costs. Venue is proper in this Court under 28
U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1) (2012). Defendant is an LLC, and its
residency is determined under § 1391(c)-(d). Defendant
“shall be deemed to reside” in any judicial
district where it would be subject to personal jurisdiction.
Id. Local Rule 3.2(b)(1) allows divisional venue of
a single defendant in the division where Defendant resides.
While Defendant does not dispute that divisional venue is
proper in the Western Division under both § 1391 and
L.R. 3.2, Defendant filed a motion for change of venue under
28 U.S.C. § 1404 (2012) (Doc. 5).
1404 governs transfer of venue. It requires the district
court to consider “the convenience of parties and
witnesses” and the “interest of justice”
when deciding whether to “transfer any civil action to
any other district or division where it might have been
brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). A change-in-venue
determination requires a “case-by-case evaluation of
the particular circumstances at hand” and is not
limited to the above factors. Terra Int'l, Inc. v.
Miss. Chem. Corp., 119 F.3d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 1997)
(citations omitted). A change of venue is within the
discretion of the district court and should not be freely
general, federal courts give considerable deference to a
plaintiff's choice of forum and thus the party seeking
transfer under section 1404(a) typically bears the burden of
proving that transfer is warranted.” In re Apple,
Inc., 602 F.3d 909, 913 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing
Terra Int'l, 119 F.3d at 695). In making its
determination, the court weighs a variety of factors,
including the convenience of the parties; the convenience of
the witnesses; the availability of the judicial process to
compel the attendance of unwilling witnesses; governing law;
ease of access to sources of proof; the possibility of delay
or prejudice if the transfer is granted; and practical
considerations determining where the case can be tried more
expeditiously and inexpensively. Houk v. Kimberly-Clark
Corp., 613 F.Supp. 923, 927 (W.D. Mo. 1985). Only where
the balance of relevant factors weighs strongly in favor of
the movant should the motion to transfer should be granted.
threshold question in deciding a motion to transfer venue is
whether the proposed forum is one where the plaintiff could
have filed the case. Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S.
335, 344 (1960). Here, Plaintiff could have filed this suit
in the Southern Division. But after reviewing whether the
“convenience of the parties and witnesses” and
“the interest of justice” support transferring
the case to the Southern Division, 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a),
the Court finds Defendant cannot meet its burden of proving
that the balance of interests weighs heavily in favor of
The convenience factors do not favor transfer.
Eighth Circuit has elaborated on the convenience factors and
considers the following when deciding a motion to transfer
(1) the convenience of the parties, (2) the convenience of
the witnesses-including the willingness of witnesses to
appear, the ability to subpoena witnesses, and the adequacy
of deposition testimony, (3) the accessibility to records and
documents, (4) the location where the conduct complained of
occurred, and (5) the applicability of each forum state's
Terra Int'l, Inc., 119 F.3d at 696. A review of
these factors shows that, on balance, transfer will not
significantly increase convenience for the parties or
the Court considers the convenience to the parties. Plaintiff
resides in the Western Division. Both parties have retained
counsel from Kansas City, located within the Western
Division. Johnson v. Burlinton-Northern, Inc., 480
F.Supp. 259, 260 (W.D. Mo. 1979) (considering location of
counsel as “[a]n important consideration” in a
motion to transfer). Were the Court to transfer this case,
Plaintiff and ...