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Villatoro v. C2 Essentials, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 12, 2019

JUAN VILLATORO, Plaintiff,
v.
C2 ESSENTIALS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          PAULA XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant C2 Essentials, Inc.'s Motion for Change of Venue from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391, 1404, and 1412. ECF No. 17. The matter is fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Beginning around September 2017 through April 2018, Plaintiff, Juan Villatoro (“Villatoro”), worked for Defendant, C2 Essentials, Inc. (“C2”), as a cleaner in C2's Chantilly, Virginia office. ECF No. 1 ¶ 12. C2 is incorporated in Virginia, has its principal place of business in Chantilly and does not have any office in Maryland. ECF No. 1 ¶ 5.; Gouldin Decl. [ECF No. 17-2 ¶¶ 2-4]. Villatoro is and was a resident of Maryland during the time he worked for C2. ECF No. 1 ¶ 3; ECF No. 17-2 ¶ 6.

         On December 12, 2018, Villatoro filed his one-count Complaint against C2 alleging that C2 violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by misclassifying and paying him as an exempt salaried employee who did not receive overtime compensation.[1] ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 13-16. On February 10, 2019, C2 moved to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391, 1404, and 1412.[2] ECF No. 17.

         II. Analysis

         a. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) directs a court to dismiss or transfer a case if venue is improper in the plaintiff's chosen forum. To survive a motion to dismiss or transfer venue pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3), the plaintiff must only make a prima facie showing that venue is proper. See Mitrano v. Hawes, 377 F.3d 402, 405 (4th Cir. 2004). Courts may consider evidence outside the complaint and need not accept the pleadings as true when determining whether plaintiff has sustained this burden. See Sucampo Pharms., Inc. v. Astellas Pharma, Inc., 471 F.3d 544, 550 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Aggarao v. MOL Ship Mgmt. Co., 675 F.3d 355, 365-66 (4th Cir. 2012). The Court construes the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Aggarao, 675 F.3d at 366.

         Venue may be proper in more than one district. Accordingly, the Court must focus not on whether a given district is the best venue, but rather whether the relevant acts or omissions occurred within that district are “sufficiently substantial” to render the venue proper. See Mitrano, 377 F.3d at 405. Importantly, courts are to look to “the entire sequence of events underlying the claim, ” and not just those that “directly led to the filing of the action.” Id.

         When venue is improper in a plaintiff's chosen forum, the court may either dismiss the case or, “if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Courts in this district ordinarily transfer rather than dismiss the action. See Sewell v. CFTC, 2017 WL 1196614, at *4 (D. Md. Mar. 31, 2017). The Court may, in its discretion, transfer the case when doing so is “in the interest of justice.” See Id. Transfer is in the interests of justice where “for any reason which constitutes an impediment to a decision on the merits in the transferor district . . . would not be an impediment in the transferee district, ” such as incorrect venue or an absence of personal jurisdiction. Porter v. Groat, 840 F.2d 255, 258 (4th Cir. 1988); see Dubin v. United States, 380 F.2d 813, 816 (5th Cir. 1967).

         b. Discussion

         Plaintiff avers that venue in this district is proper because “Defendant employed Plaintiff who resides in this judicial district and issued paychecks to Plaintiff in this judicial district.” ECF No. 1 ¶ 2. Because the paychecks issued to Plaintiff in Maryland did not include overtime compensation, Plaintiff contends that a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred in this District. ECF No. 18 at 1. Plaintiff also concedes that venue would be proper in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. ECF No. 18 at 2. However, Plaintiff nonetheless maintains that where more than one venue is proper, the factors set forth in § 1404(a) counsel in favor of the matter remaining in this district. Id. Plaintiff emphasizes the minimal inconvenience for parties or witnesses to litigate in this District given their close proximity to this district, and urges the Court to defer to his forum choice. Id.

         Defendant disagrees that venue in this District is proper because the only contact with this forum is Plaintiff's paychecks as having been “issued” in Maryland. ECF No. 17 at 6. Defendant further contends that because it is incorporated and maintains its principal place of business in Virginia, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is the proper forum. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1).[3] ECF No. 17 at 2. Defendant also argues that Plaintiff had been employed at Defendant's place of business in Virginia, and all decisions ...


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