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Timm v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

November 17, 2014

DONALD N. TIMM and MARY K. TIMM, Plaintiffs,
v.
GOODYEAR TIRE AND RUBBER COMPANY, GOODYEAR DUNLOP TIRES NORTH AMERICAN, LTD., HARLETY DAVISON, INC., TEGOL, INC., and NANAL, INC., Defendants.

FINDINGS, REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) & (C)

JOHN E. MARTIN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Defendant Harley-Davidson Motor Company Group, LLC's Motion to Dismiss, and in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue [DE 20], filed by Defendant Harley-Davidson Motor Company Group, LLC, sued as Harley-Davidson, Inc., on August 18, 2014. Plaintiffs filed a response on September 1, 2014, and Defendant Tegol, Inc., filed a response in opposition to the Motion on September 11, 2014. Harley-Davidson filed its reply on September 19, 2014. Defendants Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Inc., Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd., and Nanal, Inc., did not file any briefs related to the instant Motion.

On September 19, 2014, Chief Judge Philip P. Simon entered an Order [DE 46] referring this matter to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation on the instant motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). This Report constitutes the undersigned Magistrate Judge's combined proposed findings and recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). For the following reasons, the Court recommends that the District Court deny the Motion.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs Donald Timm and Mary Timm filed their Complaint on July 8, 2014, including claims for negligence and product liability against Defendants for injuries that arose out of a motorcycle accident in Nebraska. In the instant Motion, Harley-Davidson moves to dismiss the case for improper venue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) or, in the alternative, to have the Court transfer this case to a district where venue is appropriate. The Timms and Defendant Tegol oppose transfer of venue. Defendants Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Inc., Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd., and Nanal, Inc., did not join in or respond to the instant Motion, did not contest venue or jurisdiction in their Answers, and have not filed motions to dismiss.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), a "district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss or, if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Venue in federal district court is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), which provides:

A civil action may be brought in-
(1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;

(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) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.

28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

Harley-Davidson argues that none of the three criteria is met in this case because none of the defendants are residents of the Northern District of Indiana, no substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred in the Northern District of Indiana, and there are other districts where venue is proper. It requests dismissal or transfer of the case. Plaintiffs argue that the Complaint lays out a prima facie case for jurisdiction in the Northern District of Indiana and the case should not be transferred, primarily arguing that jurisdiction is appropriate under section 1391(b)(2) because a substantial part of the events and property that are the subject of the case are located in the Northern District of Indiana. Defendant Tegol argues that, despite Harley-Davidson's contentions, all of the defendants are, in fact, residents of Indiana for the purposes of determining venue. In its reply, Harley-Davidson argues that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged that all defendants are residents of Indiana.

28 U.S.C. § 1391 defines residency for the purposes of venue, stating, in relevant part, that

an entity with the capacity to sue and be sued in its common name under applicable law, whether or not incorporated, shall be deemed to reside, if a defendant, in any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court's ...

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