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March VII Investment Limited Partnership v. Kramer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 14, 2016

ANNE E. KRAMER, Defendant


          WOLF, D.J.

         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiffs are two limited partnerships established under Massachusetts law, March VII Investment Limited Partnership and March VIII Investment Limited Partnership (the "March Entities"). The March Entities are the limited partners in two Maryland limited partnerships that own two senior living facilities in Maryland, the Ridgely/Hampstead Limited Partnership and the Ridgely Black Rock Limited Partnership (the "Partnerships"). The March Entities have sued defendant Anne Kramer, the general partner of the Partnerships, alleging that Kramer breached the agreements governing the Partnerships (the "Partnership Agreements") and her fiduciary duties as general partner.

         Kramer has moved to transfer this case to the United States Court for the District of Maryland (the "Transfer Motion"). Plaintiffs oppose transfer. For the reasons explained in the Memorandum, the Transfer Motion is being allowed. In essence, the presumption in favor of the plaintiffs' choice of forum is weak in this case. It is outweighed by the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and the interests of justice, which all favor litigating and trying this action in the District of Maryland.


         On June 19, 2015, Kramer filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that this court lacks personal jurisdiction over Kramer or, in the alternative, the case should be dismissed under the doctrine of forum non conviens. The March Entities opposed that motion. The court held a hearing on the motion and raised the question of whether the case should be transferred to the District of Maryland pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1404. The court subsequently issued an order denying the motion to dismiss, ordering the parties to confer and report whether they agreed to transfer the case to the District of Maryland, and establishing a schedule for Kramer to file any motion to transfer if the parties did not agree. Kramer filed the Transfer Motion with a supporting memorandum (the "Transfer Memorandum") and three affidavits. The March Entities filed an opposition ("Transfer Opp.") and supporting declaration.


         "For the convenience of 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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). "The burden of proof rests with the party seeking transfer." Coady v. Ashcraft & Gerel, 223 F.3d 1, 11 (1st Cir. 2000).

         Ordinarily, "there is a 'strong presumption in favor of the plaintiff's choice of forum.1" Astro-Med, Inc. v. Nihon Kohden Am., Inc., 591 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting Coady, 223 F.3d at 11). However, "[w]here the operative facts of the case have no material connection with [the] district, plaintiff's choice of forum carries less weight." U.S. ex rel. Ondis v. City of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 480 F.Supp.2d 434, 436 (D. Mass. 2007) (quoting Goodman v. Schmalz, 80 F.R.D. 296, 302 (E.D.N.Y. 1978)). More specifically:

[T]he plaintiff's venue choice is to be given less weight if he or she selects a district court with no obvious connection to the case or the plaintiff is a nonresident of the chosen forum or neither element points to that court. Although not universally followed by other courts, this approach is one of sound judicial administration and reflects good common sense.

Id. (quoting 15 Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure §3848 at 134-39 (2007)).

         A district court considering a motion for transfer "must evaluate both the convenience of the parties and various public-interest considerations." Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for W. Dist. of Texas, 134 S.Ct. 568, 581 (2013). In weighing convenience, the court must consider both the "convenience of the parties and the witnesses." 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). "Judges in this District agree that convenience of the witnesses is an extremely important, if not the most important, factor to be analyzed in determining whether to change a litigation's venue." Gemini Inv'rs Inc. v. Ameripark, Inc., 542 F.Supp.2d 119, 126 (D. Mass. 2008) (citing Brant Point Corp. v. Poetzsch, 671 F.Supp. 2, 3 (D. Mass. 1987)) .

To demonstrate inconvenience, the movant must (1) identify the witnesses and their locations; (2) indicate the quality or materiality of the[ir] testimony; and (3) show[] that any such witnesses were unwilling to come to trial . . . [, ] that deposition testimony would be unsatisfactory[, ] or that the use of compulsory process would be necessary.

Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. Bartile Roofs, Inc., 618 F.3d 1153, 1169 (10th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations omitted). The court must also consider "relative ease of access to sources of proof; availability of compulsory process . . .; possibility of view of premises . . .; and all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and ...

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