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Salvador v. Cushenberry

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division

January 3, 2018




         This matter is before the court on a civil complaint alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). Upon review of the complaint, it is apparent that venue is not proper in the Northern District. Accordingly, this case should be transferred.

         Plaintiff is a detainee or inmate housed at the Baker County Jail in Macclenny, Florida. As the lone Defendant, she names a deputy who works at the jail. Plaintiff claims she was subjected to sexual assault and robbery at the hands of Defendant while housed at the jail. As relief, she seeks monetary damages.

         Venue for actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), which provides:

A civil action wherein jurisdiction is not founded solely on diversity of citizenship may, except as otherwise provided by law, be brought only in (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant may be found, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.

Id. Furthermore, 28 U.S.C. § 1404 provides: “[f]or 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 decision to transfer an action pursuant to § 1404(a) is left to the “sound discretion of the district court and [is] reviewable only for an abuse of that discretion.” Roofing & Sheeting Metal Serv. v. La Quinta Motor Inns, 689 F.2d. 982, 985 (11th Cir. 1982). Such transfers may be made sua sponte by the district court. Mills v. Beech Aircraft Corp., 886 F.2d 758, 761 (5th Cir. 1989); Robinson v. Madison, 752 F.Supp. 842, 846 (N.D. Ill. 1990) (“A court's authority to transfer cases under § 1404(a) does not depend upon the motion, stipulation or consent of the parties to the litigation.”); Empire Gas Corp. v. True Value Gas of Florida, Inc., 702 F.Supp. 783, 784 (W.D. Mo. 1989); accord Roofing & Sheeting, 689 F.2d at 991 n.14.

         In analyzing the issue of proper venue in the context of motions to dismiss under the federal doctrine of forum non conveniens, courts have looked to certain factors set forth by the United States Supreme Court relating to the private interest of the litigants and the public interest in the fair and efficient administration of justice. See Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508-09, 67 S.Ct. 839, 843, 91, L.Ed. 1055 (1988), superseded by statute on other grounds as explained in American Dredging Co. v. Miller, 510 U.S. 443, 449 n.2, 114 S.Ct. 981, 986 n.2, 127 L.Ed.2d 285 (1994)[1]; accord Cowan v. Ford Motor Co., 713 F.2d 100, 103 (5th Cir. 1983).[2]While forum non conveniens would not apply in a case such as this where there exists an alternative federal forum in which this case could have been brought and to which this case may be transferred, the factors enunciated in Gilbert, which provide the basis for a court's analysis of the relative fairness and convenience of two alternative forums, are helpful in determining whether to effect a change in venue under section 1404(a).

         The factors set forth in Gilbert are as follows:

[i]mportant considerations are the relative ease of access to sources of proof; availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling, and the cost of obtaining attendance of willing, witnesses; possibility of view of premises, if view would be appropriate to the action; and all of the practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive. . . . Factors of public interest also have [a] place in applying the doctrine. Administrative difficulties follow for courts when litigation is piled up in congested centers instead of being handled at its origin. Jury duty is a burden that ought not to be imposed upon the people of a community which has no relation to the litigation. . . .

Gilbert, 330 U.S. at 508-09.

         In the instant case, the acts or occurrences forming the basis of the complaint occurred in the Baker County Jail in Baker County, Florida, which is located in the Middle District. Thus, attendance of witnesses and availability of sources of proof favor a transfer there. Moreover, the Northern District appears to have no relation to the litigation at issue. Neither the private interest of the litigants nor the public interest in the administration of justice is even minimally advanced by venue being maintained in this district.[3] Therefore, in the interest of justice, this action should be transferred to the Middle District.

         Accordingly, it is respectfully, RECOMMENDED:

         1. That this case be transferred to the United States District Court for ...

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