United States District Court, D. Maryland
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge.
to Standing Order 2014-01, the above-referenced case was
referred to me to review the pending dispositive motion and
to make recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)
and Local Rule 301.5(b)(ix). [ECF No. 5]. This Report and
Recommendations addresses Defendant Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration's (“the
Commissioner's”) Motion to Dismiss the Complaint
Without Prejudice Or, In The Alternative, To Transfer Venue
(“Motion to Dismiss or to Transfer Venue”), [ECF
No. 17], and the Opposition thereto filed by Plaintiff Sherry
Lynn Dove (“Plaintiff”), [ECF No. 18]. The
Commissioner has not filed a reply. Having reviewed these
filings, I find that a hearing is not necessary. See
Loc. R. 105.6 (2016). For the reasons stated herein, I
recommend that the Commissioner's Motion to Dismiss or to
Transfer Venue be DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART, and
that venue be transferred to the United States District Court
for the District of Columbia.
September 22, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against the
Commissioner in the United States District Court for the
District of Maryland. [ECF No. 1]. The Complaint invokes 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), which provides this Court with
jurisdiction to review a final determination of the
Commissioner. Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that she
resides in Brampton, Ontario. Id. at 1. Plaintiff
asks the Court to review the Commissioner's final
decision regarding her denial of benefits. Id. at 4.
immunity acts as a limiting principle on the jurisdiction of
the federal courts because “[t]he United States, as
sovereign, is ‘immune from suit save as it consents to
be sued . . . and the terms of its consent to be sued in any
court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the
suit.” Hercules, Inc. v. United States, 516
U.S. 417, 422 (1996) (quoting United States v.
Testan, 424 U.S. 392, 399 (1976)). With respect to
claims against the Commissioner, the Social Security Act (the
“Act”) provides a waiver of sovereign immunity
and allows an individual to bring a claim arising under the
Act in the circumstances outlined by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
U.S.C. § 405(g), the statute on which the Commissioner
bases its motion, provides, in pertinent part:
Any individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security made after a hearing to which he was a
party, irrespective of the amount in controversy, may obtain
a review of such decision by a civil action commenced within
sixty days after the mailing to him of notice of such
decision or within such further time as the Commissioner of
Social Security may allow. Such action shall be brought in
the district court of the United States for the judicial
district in which the plaintiff resides, or has his principal
place of business, or, if he does not reside or have his
principal place of business within any such judicial
district, in the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1406(a), “[t]he district court of a district in
which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or
district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of
justice, transfer such case to any district or division in
which it could have been brought.” The Commissioner
contends that Plaintiff's case should be dismissed
without prejudice or, in the alternative, transferred,
because Plaintiff is a current resident of Chino, California
and has not established that, during any relevant period, she
has resided or had a principal place of business in Maryland.
[ECF No. 17, at 2] (citing Phillips v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 537 F. App'x 268, 268-69 (4th Cir. 2013)).
objects to dismissal or transfer of venue. See [ECF
No. 18]. Although she concedes that she has not resided or
maintained a principal place of business in Maryland,
Plaintiff argues that she did not reside in the United States
when she filed this action and does not plan to remain in
California long-term. Id. Because her attorney is in
Maryland, Plaintiff contends that it represents “the
most stable venue.” Id. at 3. The location of
a claimant's attorney, however, does not confer venue
under the statute. Since Plaintiff fails to show that she
presently resides or has a principal place of business in
Maryland, this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over
this case according to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See
Phillips, 537 F. App'x at 268-29.
dismissal would preclude Plaintiff from refiling her claim,
the interest of justice requires that this Court transfer
Plaintiff's case to “any district or division in
which it could have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. §
1406(a). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff lived in
Brampton, Ontario on September 22, 2017, when she filed this
action. [ECF No. 1]. Accordingly, as of that date, Plaintiff
could have filed her case in the United States District Court
for the District of Columbia, since she did not then reside
or have a principal place of business in any judicial
district within the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Although Plaintiff opposes transfer as a general matter,
Plaintiff expressed a preference for transfer to the District
of Columbia, rather than California. Accordingly, I recommend
that the Court transfer this action to the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia. See 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a); see also Davis Media
Group, Inc. v. Best Western Int'l, Inc., 302
F.Supp.2d 464, 470 (D. Md. 2004) (“Transfer is more in
the interest of justice than dismissal.”) (citations
aforementioned reasons, I recommend that the
Commissioner's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint Without
Prejudice Or, In The Alternative, To Transfer Venue, [ECF No.
17], be denied in part as to dismissal and granted in part as
to the transfer of venue to the United States District Court
for the District of Columbia.
objections to this Report and Recommendations must be served
and filed within fourteen (14) days, pursuant to Federal Rule