United States District Court, S.D. Indiana
YUWSUF ABDUL-GHAFOOR, individually and on behalf of similarly situated persons, et al., Plaintiffs,
PROFESSIONAL TRANSPORTATION, INC. and RONALD D. ROMAIN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendants' “Motion to
Dismiss for Improper Venue or to Transfer Venue to the
Southern District of Indiana” (Doc. 35). For the
reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED in
part and the Clerk of Court is
DIRECTED to transfer this matter to the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
464 Plaintiffs are current or former employees of
Professional Transportation, Inc. (“PTI”) who
worked as over-the-road drivers. PTI is in the business of
providing interstate and intrastate ground transportation for
railroad crews in 30 states plus the District of Columbia.
Plaintiffs filed this collective action pursuant to the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §
201, et seq., alleging that they are owed minimum
wage and overtime pay for various work-related activities
(Doc. 1). In particular, they claim the manner in which
Defendants calculated driving times, beginning around August
23, 2013, did not capture or compensate them for the full
amount of work related driving time for any given trip or set
of trips. Instead, PTI deducted a standard amount of
“commute time” so that Plaintiffs were not fully
compensated for the actual amount of time worked. Plaintiffs
further claim that these calculations are based on
company-wide policies that have the effect of denying them a
minimum wage and overtime pay.
assert that this Court has federal question jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and that venue is proper in
this District because Defendants conduct business here and
“a substantial part of the events and omissions giving
rise to [P]laintiffs' claim occurred in this judicial
district.” (Doc. 1, p. 16). Plaintiffs are residents of
various states. PTI is an Indiana Corporation and three of
its branch offices are located in Dupo, Collinsville, and
East St. Louis, Illinois. The individual defendant, Ronald D.
Romain, who is the President and Secretary of PTI, resides in
Indiana. Only 32 of the named plaintiffs conducted work
related activities in the Southern District of Illinois.
the Plaintiffs were “opt-in” parties to a
collective action filed in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Indiana entitled Crawford v.
Professional Transportation, Inc., 2017 WL 1077660 (N.D.
Ind. 2017). In that case, the named plaintiff alleged that he
and others were not being paid in a manner consistent with
the FLSA. The case was conditionally certified with a class
defined as “those former or current OTR [over the road]
drivers employed from February 22, 2011 to the present with
outstanding claims for wages.” Id. at * 6.
During the course of the litigation, the plaintiff narrowed
the scope of his claims to “'two areas, (i) minimum
wage/overtime compensation for OTR driving and (ii) required
pre-trip van inspections.'” Id. In
decertifying the class, the Court focused on the
plaintiff's theory that they were not being paid for
pre-trip van inspections. In an Order on reconsideration, the
Court clarified that while more general wage and overtime
claims were made by the named plaintiff, he did not present
any evidence of the same. Crawford v. Professional
Transportation, Inc., 2017 WL 3535134, * 2 (S.D. Ind.
filed their Answer in this case on December 27, 2017 (Doc.
27), generally denying Plaintiffs' venue allegation.
Almost three months later, after a trial date was assigned to
this case, Defendants filed the Motion presently before the
Court. They seek dismissal of Defendant Romain pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a), which permits the Court to dismiss or
transfer a case for improper venue. They further seek to
transfer this matter as to both defendants pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a) on the basis of convenience. In
particular, Defendants argue that Romain is not a resident of
this District and that the Southern District of Indiana would
be a more convenient forum because it is familiar with the
issues in this case, Defendants' records and witnesses
are located there, Plaintiffs and witnesses are dispersed
throughout the United States, and a majority of Plaintiffs
have no connection to this District. Plaintiffs respond, in
part, that this case is not an extension of
Crawford, that the location of evidence/witnesses
will not make discovery any more burdensome in this District,
and that no other forum would be more
venue statute provides, in relevant part:
(b) Venue in general.
--A civil action may be brought in-
(1) a judicial district in which 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 ...