The opinion of the court was delivered by: Debevoise, Senior District Judge
Defendant Geisinger Health System Foundation ("Geisinger") has moved for a transfer of the case to the Middle District of Pennsylvania under 28 U.S.C. § 1404. Defendant Keystone Helicopter Services has cross moved for a transfer to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, also under § 1404. Plaintiff Moyal Aircraft ("Moyal") opposes both motions, as does Defendant Eckhart Helicopter Sales ("Eckhart"). Because neither the convenience of the parties and prospective witnesses nor the interests of the judicial system significantly favor transfer, the motions will be denied.
This action was commenced by the filing of a Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court on June 2, 2003; the case was removed by Geisinger to this Court by a notice of removal filed July 22, 2003. Plaintiff's claims arise from its purchase of a helicopter from Geisinger. The Complaint alleges that Geisinger and Eckhart, which brokered the transaction, misrepresented the age of the helicopter; and it alleges that Geisinger breached its contract of sale (the "Purchase Agreement") by delivering a helicopter two years older than the one Plaintiff had agreed to buy. Plaintiff also claims that Keystone was negligent in performing inspections it was hired to complete in connection with the sale.
Plaintiff is a North Carolina Corporation with its principal place of business in New York. Geisinger is a Pennsylvania not-for-profit corporation with its principal place of business in Danville, Pennsylvania (in the Middle District of Pennsylvania). Keystone is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in West Chester, Pennsylvania (in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania). Eckhart is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois. The misrepresentations on which Plaintiff's claims against Geisinger are based took place in negotiations involving Geisinger personnel located in Danville, Pennsylvania. The delivery of the helicopter took place at Keystone's facility in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where Keystone's inspection was performed. The Purchase Agreement specifies that it is to be construed and that performance under it is to be determined under Pennsylvania law.
Judging principally from the parties' initial disclosures, witnesses whose testimony may be required and documents relating to the case are located mainly at or near the various principal places of business of the parties. The helicopter itself and its logbooks are located in New Jersey (although according to Geisinger there is some chance it will be sold and moved elsewhere). In support of its motion for transfer, Geisinger notes that many of the potential witnesses who are its employees live and work in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Similarly Keystone emphasizes that the potential witnesses among its employees are located in the Eastern District. Moyal's list of witnesses includes its owner, David Moyal, who is located in New York, along with one witness each from New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Eckhart's disclosure includes two witnesses from Illinois (Barry Desfor, the publisher of the "Official Helicopter Blue Book" on the value of helicopters); Edward Eckhart (the President of Trevor Corporation d/b/a Eckhart *fn2 ); and one witness from Florida.
Because neither proposed transfer offers the prospect of an overall gain in convenience or efficiency - for parties, for witnesses, or for the courts - the motions for transfer must be denied.
"The decision whether to transfer falls in the sound discretion of the trial court." Park Inn Intern., L.L.C. v. Mody Enterprises, Inc., 105 F. Supp. 2d 370, 377 (D.N.J. 2000) (citing Lony v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 886 F.2d 628, 631-32 (3d Cir. 1989)). The exercise of the courts discretion is governed by two groups of factors: "those relating to the private convenience of the litigants and those affecting the public interest in the fair and efficient administration of justice." Park Inn, 105 F. Supp. 2d at 377 (citing Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879-80 (3d Cir. 1995)). The private interests considered include
(1) the "plaintiff's forum preference," (2) "the defendant's preference," (3) "whether the claim arose elsewhere," (4) "the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition," (5) "the convenience of the witnesses--but only to the extent that the witnesses may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora," and (6) "the location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent that the files could not be produced in the alternative forum)."
Park Inn, 105 F. Supp. 2d at 377 (quoting Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879). The public interests are
(1) "the enforceability of the judgment," (2) "practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive," (3) the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion, (4) "the local interest in deciding local controversies at home," (5) "the public policies of the fora," and (6) "the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases."
Park Inn, 105 F. Supp. 2d at 377 (quoting Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80). A plaintiff's choice of forum is generally given great weight in the transfer analysis, and "unless the balance is strongly tipped in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum should not be disturbed," Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508 (1947). However, less weight is given to the plaintiff's choice when he or she does not choose a home forum, or when he or she chooses a forum that has little or no connection to the events that give rise to the case. See Rappaport v. Steven Spielberg, Inc., 16 F. Supp. 2d 481, 499-500 ...