United States District Court, D. Kansas
SHERYL L. TOWNSON, Surviving Wife and Heir-at-Law of SHAWN ERIK TOWNSON, Plaintiff,
KAHN T. HUYNH, M.D., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROBINSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Sheryl L. Townson filed this action as the heir-at-law of
Shawn Erik Townson on April 4, 2018, and designated Kansas
City, Kansas as the place of trial. Defendant designated Wichita
as the place of trial. Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion
for Determination of Location for Trial (Doc. 12). The motion
is fully briefed and the Court is prepared to rule. As
described more fully below, the motion is denied without
D. Kan. R. 40.2: “The court shall not be bound by the
requests for place of trial but may, upon motion by a party,
or in its discretion determine the place of trial.” In
this district, when considering a motion for intra-district
transfer, courts look to the same factors relevant for change
of venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404. Under § 1404(a), the
district court should consider the plaintiff's choice of
forum, the convenience for witnesses, the accessibility of
witnesses and other sources of proof, the possibility of
obtaining a fair trial, difficulties that may arise from
congested dockets, and “all other considerations of a
practical nature that make a trial easy, expeditious and
economical.” The burden of proving that the existing
forum is inconvenient lies with the moving
party. Although a plaintiff's forum choice
“should rarely be disturbed, ”the
plaintiff's choice of forum receives little deference
when, as here, the plaintiff does not reside
asks the Court to designate Kansas City as the place of trial
because her choice of forum should receive deference, and
because it would be more convenient for Defendant as a
Chicago, Illinois resident to try the case in Kansas City.
Defendant contends that it is too early in the case to
properly consider the convenience of witnesses factor.
However, if the Court does consider the merits of
Plaintiff's motion, Defendant requests this Court
designate Wichita as the place of trial because the events
giving rise to this lawsuit occurred in Wichita and because
Plaintiff is a resident of Wichita, not Kansas City, and thus
her choice of venue receives little deference. Although the
parties have not yet begun discovery, Defendant believes most
witnesses and documents are located in Wichita. He argues
further that purchasing a flight to Wichita is no more
burdensome for him than a flight to Kansas City. In fact,
given Defendant's past ties to Wichita, he would prefer
to travel there for trial.
is correct that because Plaintiff does not reside in Kansas
City, her choice of forum receives little deference. He is
also correct that “[c]ourts also accord little weight
to a plaintiff's choice of forum ‘where the facts
giving rise to the lawsuit have no material relation or
significant connection to the plaintiff's chosen
forum.'” The parties appear to agree that most
witnesses in this matter are located in Wichita. But
Plaintiff responds that she wishes to incur the cost of these
witnesses' travel to Kansas City for trial.
Court agrees with Defendant that this motion is premature.
The parties are still in the pleading stage and discovery has
not yet begun. They have not even exchanged their initial
witness lists, so the Court is unable to conduct a meaningful
analysis as to the convenience for witnesses. Thus, this
motion is denied, without prejudice to refiling. Either party
may re-file a motion to determine place of trial after this
case has progressed further; preferably, close to the
dispositive motions deadline.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT that
Plaintiff's Motion for Determination of Location for
Trial (Doc. 12) is denied without prejudice.
IS SO ORDERED.
See, e.g., Menefee v.
Zepick, No. 09-2127-JWL, 2009 WL 1313236, at *1 (D. Kan.
May 12, 2009); Benson v. Hawker Beechcraft Corp.,
No. 07-2171-JWL, 2007 WL 1834010, at *1 (D. Kan. June 26,
Chrysler Credit Corp. v. Country
928 F.2d 1509, 1515-16 (10th Cir. 1991)
(citing Tex. Gulf Sulphur Co. v. Ritter, 371 F.2d