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Middle Dep't Inspection Agency v. United RE AG

October 9, 2009

MIDDLE DEPARTMENT INSPECTION AGENCY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED RE AG, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

Before the Court is defendant United Re AG's motion to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For reasons explained below, defendant's motion to transfer venue is denied.

I. JURISDICTION

This action was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division and removed to this Court on the basis of diversity.

This Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff, Middle Department Inspection Agency, is a New Jersey corporation with its principal place of business in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Defendant, United Re AG, is a Swiss corporation with headquarters in Zug, Switzerland. Defendant's principal place of business in the United States is located in San Antonio, Texas. Plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $75,000.00.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff states that it is an employer who contracted with Insurance Administrator of America, Inc. ("IAA"), a New Jersey corporation with its principal place of business in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The purpose of the agreement between plaintiff and IAA was to adopt and administer a self-insured health insurance plan for the benefit of plaintiff's employees. According to plaintiff, IAA placed with defendant excess insurance coverage for certain risks and expenses incurred by persons covered under plaintiff's plan.

On February 9, 2009, plaintiff filed suit against defendant in a New Jersey state court, alleging that defendant failed to pay medical bills in the amount of $262,767.71.*fn1 On March 27, 2009, defendant removed this action, on the basis of diversity, to this Court. Defendant now moves this Court to transfer venue, in the interest of justice and for convenience, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues that this case should be transferred to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas because, pursuant to the parties' contractual agreement, Texas law will dictate the case's resolution. Further, defendant asserts that the majority of witnesses reside and the contract was formed in Texas.

Plaintiff, on the other hand, contends that the choice-oflaw agreement preferring Texas law is unsigned and unenforceable and that New Jersey law should control. Regardless of which state law applies, plaintiff submits that most witnesses reside in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania and that the relevant contract was formed in New Jersey. For those reasons, plaintiff opposes defendant's motion to transfer venue.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a court, in exercising its discretion, may transfer an action to any other proper venue for the convenience of the parties or in the interest of justice.*fn2

See Sinochem Int'l Co. v. Malaysia Int'l Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 430 (2007); Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (finding that § 1404(a) "is intended to place discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness" (citation omitted)). "The burden of showing a need for transfer is on the movant . . . ." In re Amendt, 169 Fed. Appx. 93, 96 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995)).

Generally, when considering a motion to transfer under § 1404(a), district courts not only weigh the enumerated factors in § 1404(a) (convenience of parties, convenience of witnesses, or interests of justice), but also a number of "private and public interests" to determine which forum may more conveniently ...


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