Before the court is a motion by defendant Cider Mill Farms Company, Inc. ("Cider Mill") to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Plaintiff filed opposition to the motion. The Court heard oral argument on October 12, 1999, after which the Court advised the parties that the undersigned would issue this opinion ordering that this case be transferred to the District of Massachusetts.
This is an action alleging, inter alia, sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Plaintiff, Dori Jacobs, filed this diversity action in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on June 17, 1999. At the time of the acts alleged in the complaint, Ms. Jacobs was a resident of New Jersey. (Compl. at ¶1) At the time the complaint was filed, however, Ms. Jacobs was an Arizona resident, having relocated to that state on or about February 3, 1999. (Id. at ¶34)
From June 1998 until her termination in January 1999, plaintiff had been employed by defendant Cider Mill, a Massachusetts corporation with its principal place of business located in Massachusetts. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 9, 33) In her position as sales representative, she was responsible for establishing new accounts throughout the United States. (Id. at ¶11) Because her accounts were located across the country, it was not necessary for plaintiff to be physically located at Cider Mill's offices in Massachusetts to perform her job functions. (Chizmas Aff. at ¶11) Therefore, while employed by Cedar Mill, plaintiff maintained a home-office in New Jersey. (Jacobs Aff. at ¶2)
Plaintiff makes various allegations in her complaint. She accuses defendant Joseph Barboza, chief financial officer of Cider Mill and a resident of the State of Massachusetts, of making unwanted sexual advances toward her on several occasions. (Compl. at ¶¶14-16) Plaintiff alleges the first time this occurred was at a trade show in Atlanta, Georgia (Id. at ¶14) and the second time was after a business meeting in Massachusetts (Id. at ¶15). According to plaintiff, these unwanted sexual advances continued thereafter for several months. (Id. at ¶16) Plaintiff also accuses defendant Steven Brandwein, a sales manager at Cider Mill and an Illinois resident, of belittling her at a trade show in Chicago. (Id. at ¶22) She further asserts that Brandwein and defendant Jeffrey Chizmas, president of Cider Mill and a resident of Massachusetts, attempted undermine her sales efforts, as well as encouraged her to move to Arizona for the benefit of Cider Mill. (Id. at ¶¶23-25)
Cider Mill has moved before this Court to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). This statute provides that "[f]or the convenience of the 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." The purpose of this provision is "to prevent the waste of time, energy and money, and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense." Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964).
The decision whether to transfer an action pursuant to §1404(a) rests in the discretion of the district court. Stewart Organization, Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29-30 (1988); see Plum Tree Inc. v. Stockment, 488 F.2d 754 (3d Cir. 1973). The Third Circuit has noted that the district court has broad discretion under §1404(a). Solomon v. Continental American Life Ins. Co., 472 F.2d 1043, 1045 (3d Cir. 1973) (under §1404(a), district court has a broader discretion than under the formerly applicable doctrine of forum non conveniens).
The burden of establishing the need for transfer rests with the party seeking the transfer. Ricoh Co. v. Honeywell, Inc., 817 F. Supp. 473, 480 (D.N.J. 1993). The movant must show that the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses and the interests of justice strongly favor transferring the case. Houdstermaatschaapij v. Apollo Computer, Inc., 707 F. Supp. 1429, 1436 (D. Del. 1989); Sandvik, Inc. v. Continental Ins. Co., 724 F. Supp. 303, 306 (D.N.J. 1989).
In deciding a motion to transfer under §1404(a), the court must first determine whether the alternative forum is a proper venue, i.e., a district wherein the action "might have been brought." United States Code Title 28, Section 1391, is the federal venue statute, and §1391(a) provides, inter alia, that in cases where jurisdiction is based solely on diversity of citizenship, the case may be filed in "a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred... ." 28 U.S.C. §1391(a).
A substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims in this action occurred in Massachusetts. Plaintiff and defendant Chizmas negotiated the terms of plaintiff's employment at Logan Airport in Boston. (Jacobs Aff. at ¶6) Plaintiff's employment relationship with Cider Mills was centered at Cider Mill's headquarters in Leominster, Massachusetts, and plaintiff reported her activities to Cider Mill employees at the headquarters. (Chizmas Aff. at ¶9) Further, plaintiff accuses defendant Barboza of making unwanted sexual advances after a business meeting in Massachusetts. Accordingly, it is clear that this action could have been brought in the District of Massachusetts.
In the second step of the analysis under §1404(a), the Court must determine whether the balance of convenience clearly weighs in favor of a transfer. In this regard, the Court's analysis "is flexible and turns on the particular facts of the case." National Property Investors VIII v. Shell Oil Co., 917 F. Supp. 324, 326 (D.N.J. 1995). The factors to be considered by the court were categorized by Judge Lechner in Ricoh Company, Ltd. v. Honeywell, Inc. 817 F. Supp. 473, 479 (D.N.J 1993):
One category includes factors relating to the so-called "private interests" of the parties in the context of the litigation: the plaintiff's choice of forum, the ease of access to sources of proof, availability of compulsory process over unwilling witnesses, the cost of attendance of willing witnesses, obstacles to a fair trial and the possibility of a jury view of the premises. Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508(1947).
The other category consists of the "public interest" in the administration of the courts and the adjudication of cases: court congestion and other administrative difficulties, placing the burden of jury duty on those having the closest ties to the action, local interests in having cases adjudicated at ...