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Evens v. Guyer

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

April 18, 2017

MICHELLE EVENS and BROOKS EVENS, Plaintiffs,
v.
RICHARD CURTIS GUYER, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON MOTION FOR TRANSFER OF VENUE

          TANYA WALTON PRATT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for a Change of Venue filed by Defendant Richard Guyer (“Guyer”). (Filing No. 15.) Guyer argues that this action should be transferred from the New Albany Division to the Indianapolis Division of the Southern District of Indiana pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Filing No. 15-1.) Plaintiffs Michelle (“Mrs. Evens”) and Brooks Evens (collectively the “Plaintiff's”) oppose Guyer's motion. (Filing No. 16.) For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Guyer's Motion for a Transfer of Venue.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The factual allegations contained in the Plaintiffs' Complaint are as follows. The Plaintiffs are residents of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Guyer is a resident of Denver, North Carolina. (Filing No. 8-1 at 4.) On May 29, 2016, the Plaintiffs, along with their children, attended the 100th running of the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Filing No. 8-1 at 5.) The Evens family arrived at the racetrack at some point between 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and proceeded to their assigned seats. (Filing No. 8-1 at 5.) Before the race began, the Evens family noticed an older gentleman who was visibly intoxicated, holding a beer can, walking up the aisle toward them. (Filing No. 8-1 at 6.) That gentleman was later identified as the Defendant, Guyer. (Filing No. 8-1 at 6.)

         As Mrs. Evens was seated, facing the track and talking to her daughter, Guyer fell directly on top of her, crushing her and causing her to collapse like a folding lawn chair. (Filing No. 8-1 at 6.) Due to Guyer's extreme intoxication, he made no attempt to remove himself from on top of Mrs. Evens' body. (Filing No. 8-1 at 6.) Ms. Evens crawled out from under Guyer, and after trying to stand, immediately collapsed to the ground. (Filing No. 8-1 at 6.) Mrs. Evens was taken to an Indianapolis hospital by ambulance, where she was diagnosed with an acute two column T-12 compression fracture with buckling and probable disruption of the anterior longitudinal ligament at T-12. (Filing No. 8-1 at 8.) Mrs. Evens was hospitalized for three days and two nights. (Filing No. 8-1 at 8.) She was placed in a thoracic-lumbo-sacral-orthosis brace, which she was required to wear through August 23, 2016. (Filing No. 8-1 at 9.) Mrs. Evens continues to undergo treatment and experience pain. (Filing No. 8-1 at 9.)

         The Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Guyer in the Circuit Court of Clark County, Indiana on October 5, 2016, alleging civil battery, negligence, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium. (Filing No. 8-1 at 9-15.) Guyer removed the case to federal court on October 20, 2016, to the New Albany Division of the Southern District of Indiana. (Filing No. 1.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Guyer asks this Court to transfer this action to the Indianapolis Division of the Southern District of Indiana because: (1) the events giving rise to the claim occurred within the Indianapolis Division, and (2) the Indianapolis Division is a more convenient forum for this action. (Filing No. 15-1 at 4-6.) The Plaintiffs oppose the Motion to Transfer because: (1) venue is proper in the New Albany Division; (2) the Plaintiffs' preferred venue is entitled to great weight; (3) New Albany is a more convenient venue for the Plaintiffs and many witnesses; (4) much of the relevant evidence in the case is located in and around New Albany; and (5) travel to New Albany is not less convenient for Guyer. (Filing No. 16.)

         A. Legal Standard.

         The parties agree that it was proper for this action to be removed to the Southern District of Indiana, and they agree that both the New Albany and Indianapolis Divisions would be proper venues for this action.[1] The parties disagree as to whether the Court should exercise its discretion to transfer the action from New Albany to Indianapolis.

         28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides that “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). And Section 1404(a) provides that “[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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

         B. Application of the Venue Transfer Factors.

         The Court typically considers four factors in deciding whether to transfer an action: (1) the convenience of the parties; (2) the convenience of the witnesses; (3) the situs of material events and access to proof; and (4) the interests of justice. See, e.g., Deputy v. City of Seymour, 2013 WL 2474235, at *3 (S.D. Ind. 2013). “As a general rule, the plaintiff's choice of forum will not be disturbed unless the four factors weigh substantially in favor of transfer.” Id. The party moving for the change of venue “has the burden of establishing, by reference to particular circumstances, that the transferee forum is clearly more convenient.” Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986).

         The first two factors-the convenience of the parties and the convenience of the witnesses-weigh in favor of the Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs reside in Jeffersonville, Indiana, a city located approximately ten miles from New Albany. (Filing No. 8-1 at 4.) Indianapolis is located over one hundred miles north of Jeffersonville, so New Albany is the more convenient venue for the Plaintiffs. Guyer resides in North Carolina, and he has not argued that it would be ...


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