United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL United States District Judge.
action. Plaintiff April Ademiluyi has alleged counts of
negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and
conspiracy against Defendants National Bar Association
("NBA"), Daryl Parks, and Benjamin Crump. Presently
pending before the Court is the NBA's Motion to Dismiss
for Failure to State a Claim or in the Alternative, for
Improper Venue, ECF No. 24, and Mr. Parks' Motion to
Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim or in the Alternative,
for Improper Venue, ECF No. 25. A hearing on the Motions is not
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). For the
reasons stated below, the Court will deny Defendants"
Motion to Dismiss but grant Defendants' alternative
request to transfer this action to the Middle District of
case arises out of events allegedly occurring in Tampa,
Florida, in April 2012. ECF No. 19 ¶ 2. Ms. Ademiluyi is
a resident of Maryland, where she practices as an attorney.
Id. ¶ 5. Mr. Parks and Mr. Crump are both
residents of Florida and also practice as attorneys in
Tallahassee. Florida. Id. ¶ 9. The National Bar
Association is a national network and civil rights
organization for predominantly African-American attorneys and
judges. ECF No. 24 at 2. At all times relevant to the action,
Mr. Parks and Mr. Crump held leadership positions with the
NBA. ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 8-9. The NBA is headquartered in
Washington, DC, "conducts business in virtually every
state and Washington DC, " and has a Maryland affiliate
chapter. ECF No. 19 ¶ 7.
April 19-21, 2012, Ms. Ademiluyi attended the NBA's
Mid-Year Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Tampa,
Florida. Id. ¶ 22. Ms. Ademiluyi was a guest at
a private party hosted in Mr. Parks' hotel suite during
one evening of the conference. Id. ¶¶
24-25. Ms. Ademiluyi alleges that while at the party, David
Phillips, another attorney attending the NBA conference,
drugged her with gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid ("GHB"),
a date rape drug, and raped her in his hotel room.
Id. ¶¶ 26-28. Ms. Ademiluyi visited an
emergency room upon her return to Maryland, and notified the
Tampa Police Department ("TPD") after toxicology
testing revealed the presence of GHB. Id.
¶¶ 30-32. TPD did not bring criminal charges
against Mr. Phillips. See ECF No. 24 at 3; ECF No.
19 ¶ 4. Ms. Ademiluyi filed suit in this Court against
David Phillips in February 2014. but Judge Titus transferred
the case to the District of Nevada. See Ademiluyi v.
Phillips, Civil Action No. RWT-14-cv-0358, 2014 WL
1345295 (D. Md. Apr. 3, 2014). Ms. Ademiluyi later dismissed
the case against Phillips on her own accord. ECF No. 27 at
13. In September 2015, Ms. Ademiluyi filed the instant suit
against Defendants. ECF No. 1. Ms. Ademiluyi claims,
inter alia, that Defendants were negligent in
failing to provide safe premises for the convention and
subsequently conspired with Florida public officials to cover
up the incident alleged in her Complaint. ECF No. 19 at
STANDARD OF REVIEW
objection to venue is raised under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3), the
burden lies with the plaintiff to establish that venue is
proper. Jones v. Koons Auto. Inc., 752 F.Supp.2d
670, 679 (D. Md. 2010). 'To survive a motion to dismiss
for improper venue when no evidentiary hearing is held,
plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of
venue." Milrano v. Hawes, 377 F.3d 402, 405
(4th Cir. 2004). When considering a motion to dismiss, the
court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all
factual conflicts in plaintiffs favor. See Essex Ins. Co.
v. MDRB Corp., Civil Action No. DKC 2006-0326, 2006 WL
1892411, at * 1 (D. Md. June 7, 2006).
NBA and Parks challenge Plaintiffs allegation that venue is
appropriate in the District of Maryland. ECF No. 24; ECF No.
25. A civil action may be properly 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 (3) if there is no district in which an
action may otherwise be brought, any judicial district in
which any defendant is subject to the court's personal
jurisdiction with respect to such action." 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391(b). These three subsections are often
respectively referred to as "'residential venue,
'" "transactional venue, " and
"fallback venue." 14D Charles Alan Wright, Arthur
R. Miller, & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 3804. The first two subsections define
"preferred judicial districts" for venue, while the
third subsection provides a "fallback option."
Atlantic Marine Const. Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court for
Western Dist. of Texas, 134 S.Ct. 568, 578 (2013). Thus,
"if no other venue is proper, then venue will lie in any
judicial district in which the any defendant is subject to
the court's personal jurisdiction [under
there is no basis to conclude, and Plaintiff does not allege,
that Maryland is a proper venue under § 1391(b)(1).
Defendants Parks and Crump are both residents of Florida and
Defendant NBA is headquartered in Washington, DC. ECF No. 24
at 11; ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 7, 9. In her initial
Complaint, Ms. Ademiluyi contends that venue is proper under
§ 1391(b)(3) because "this Court has personal
jurisdiction over all defendants." ECF No. 1 ¶ 19.
This argument fails because there is a district,
Florida, in which an action may otherwise be brought, so an
inquiry into personal jurisdiction under (b)(3) is not
appropriate. See Fitzpatrick v. Allyn, Civil No.
CCB-11-2202, 2012 WL 346634, at *3 (D. Md. Feb. 1, 2012).
the only potential basis for venue in Maryland is §
1391(b)(2). Pursuant to § 1391(b)(2), venue is proper 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(b)(2) (emphasis
added). Notably, the language of the statute does not provide
that venue is proper where "any part" of the events
giving rise to the claim, but a "substantial part."
See Celsion Corp. v. Stearns Management Corp., No.
Civ. CCB-00-1214, 2001 WL 55456, at *4 (D. Md. Jan. 18,
2001). Thus, venue is proper when "many of the events
and facts central to this case" are "anchored in
Maryland." Ciene Corp. v. Jarrard, 203 F.3d
312, 318 (4th Cir. 2000). All of the key events in this case,
including the alleged assault and conspiracy, took place in
Tampa, Florida. ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 22-42. Ms. Ademiluyi
was allegedly "drugged and raped" while attending a
conference in Tampa, Florida. Id. ¶¶ 1-2.
Ms. Ademiluyi reported the incident to the Tampa Police
Department and subsequently communicated with TPD officials
and the State Attorney's Office for Hillsborough County,
Florida. Id. ¶¶ 32, 37-41. Ms. Ademiluyi
also sought the assistance of Florida State Senator Arthenia
Joyner. Id. ¶ 42. Defendants Parks and Crump
live and work in Florida, and their law firm is located in
Tallahassee, Florida. See Id. ¶¶ 8-9.
Ademiluyi's reliance on Mitrano,377 F.3d 402,
is unpersuasive. ECF No. 27 at 19. Mitrano dealt
with a breach of contract action in which some, but not all,
of plaintiffs legal work for defendant was conducted in the
forum state. Mitrano, 377 F.3d at 406. Because the
legal work entitled plaintiff to the payment sought in the
breach of contract claim, the Fourth Circuit vacated the
District Court's order dismissing the case for lack of
venue. Id. Here, none of the relevant conduct
occurred in Maryland. And despite Plaintiffs arguments to the
contrary, her allegation that she has "felt all the
injuries" from Defendants" torts in Maryland does
not create venue in Maryland. ECF No. 27 at 19. "Venue
cannot lie simply because a plaintiff continues to experience
the psychological effects of an injury in a particular
place." McClintock v. School Bd. East Feliciana
Parish,299 Fed.Appx. 363, 365 (5th Cir. 2008); see
also Miles v. Charles E. Smith Cos.,404 F.Supp. 467,
468-70 (D. Md. 1975) (holding transfer to Eastern District of
Virginia was appropriate because alleged accident occurred in
Virginia); Massi v. Lomonaco, C/A No.
0:10-265-CMC-PJG, 2010 WL 2429313 (D.S.C. May 25, 2010):
Wright & Miller, supra § 3806. Indeed this
logic was echoed in this Court's transfer of Ms.
Ademiluyi's related action against David ...