United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
A. KIMBALL, United States District Judge
matter is before the court on Defendants Jason Li and Queen
Star Trucking's (collectively “Defendants”)
Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After
the Defendants filed the motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction, the Plaintiff Jacob Lance Paxman filed
a motion to transfer venue. On April 25, 2018, the court held
a hearing on the motions. At the hearing, the Plaintiff was
represented by Kevin D. Swenson and the Defendants were
represented by Jeremy S. Stuart. The court took the motions
under advisement. Based on the briefing filed by the parties
and the law and facts relevant to the pending motion, the
court issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order
transferring the case to the Western District of Oklahoma.
February 16, 2016, Plaintiff Jacob Paxman was a passenger in
a car driving on Interstate 40 in McLoud, Oklahoma. Defendant
Jason Li was driving one of Defendant Queen Star
Trucking's semi-trucks when it collided with the car in
which Paxman was a passenger. As a result, Paxman allegedly
suffered extensive personal injuries and is now seeking
general and specific damages. Paxman is a Utah resident. Li
is a resident of Los Angeles, California. Queen Star Trucking
is a California corporation with its principal place of
business in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction arguing that that they have no contacts with the
state of Utah. In response, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to
Change Venue to California, where the Defendants are
domiciled. The Defendants opposed the Motion to Change Venue
to California and argued that the venue should be transferred
to the Western District of Oklahoma, where the accident
hearing, the Plaintiff conceded that general jurisdiction
does not exist over the Defendants because the Defendants are
not considered “at home” in Utah. The Defendants
are a resident of California or incorporated in California
and there is no evidence that they conduct business in Utah.
there is no evidence to establish specific jurisdiction in
Utah. “Where a forum seeks to assert specific
jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant who has not
consented to suit there, [the] fair warning requirement is
satisfied if the defendant has purposefully directed his
activities at residents of the forum, and the litigation
results from alleged injuries that arise out of or relate to
those activities.” Burger King Corp., v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472-73 (1985). In this case,
the accident occurred in McCloud, Oklahoma and Utah has no
connection to this case other than the Plaintiff now resides
in Utah. Specific jurisdiction therefore also does not exist
over the Defendants in Utah. Accordingly, the Defendants'
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is
GRANTED. (Dkt. No. 14).
TO TRANSFER VENUE
after the Defendants filed their motion to dismiss the
Plaintiff filed a motion to transfer venue to California. The
Defendants opposed the motion and argued that the case should
instead be either dismissed or transferred to the Western
District of Oklahoma. 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) allows
“[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
purpose of 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) is to avoid dismissal
merely because of “an erroneous guess with regard to
the existence of some elusive fact of the kind upon which
venue provisions often turn.” Goldlawr, Inc., v.
Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 465 (1962). A typical example of
the problem to be avoided is where statute of limitations
would bar a claim because of a mistake about proper venue.
Id. at 466. “In civil cases, the question of
whether a litigant has brought an action in the proper court
is a question of law, while the question of whether to
dismiss or transfer an action filed in an improper venue is
within the district court's sound discretion and reviewed
for abuse of discretion only.” Ballesteros v.
Ashcroft, 452 F.3d 1153 (10th Cir. 2006).
justice requires the case to be transferred instead of
dismissed because the Plaintiff may be barred from refiling
his case because of the statute of limitations. The court
will therefore exercise its discretion to transfer instead of
dismiss this case. Although the Plaintiff seeks to have this
case transferred to California, the court agrees with the
Defendants that Oklahoma is a more convenient forum. The
accident occurred in Oklahoma, and most of the witnesses to
the accident are in Oklahoma. The Plaintiff has failed to
show how California would be a more convenient forum.
Although a Plaintiff generally has the right to choose where
to file a case, the Plaintiff has not provided any support
that he should be given deference for where to transfer the
case after it has been filed. Accordingly, the court finds
that the Western District of Oklahoma is the more convenient
on the above reasoning, the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
(Dkt. No. 14) is GRANTED and the Plaintiffs Motion to
Transfer Venue (Dkt. No. 15) is GRANTED in part and is ...