United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. BIRZER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
13, 2019, the Court held a Scheduling Conference. Plaintiffs
appeared through counsel, Amy L. Coopman. Defendants appeared
through counsel, Forrest T. Rhodes, Jr. After discussing
scheduling of the case, the Court considered Defendants'
Motion for Determination of Place of Trial (ECF No.
17) and related briefing (Mem. in Support, ECF No.
18; Response, ECF No. 19; Reply, ECF No. 21). After reviewing
the written briefs, hearing arguments from counsel, and
discussing the same, the Court GRANTED
Defendants' Motion during the Scheduling Conference. The
previously-announced ruling of the Court is now memorialized
a putative collective action initiated by two former
aerospace engineers- Mark Wood and Dennis Parr-who worked at
the Wichita Bombardier Flight Test Center. Mr. Wood and Mr.
Parr bring this lawsuit on behalf of themselves and others
similarly situated under the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34, against their former
joint employers, Defendants Learjet, Inc. and Bombardier
Inc., challenging their terminations from employment.
generally claim Defendants instituted new management in
February 2015 which set about to reduce the average age of
the Bombardier Flight Test Center's engineering
workforce. Plaintiffs allege the new management introduced a
work assignment program which set up older workers to fail.
Plaintiff Parr was a 63-year-old aerospace engineer who had
been with the company for approximately 25 years when he was
terminated in May 2016. Plaintiff Wood was terminated in
August 2016 at the age of 59. Both Parr and Wood filed
complaints of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission on behalf of themselves and all others
similarly situated. Plaintiff Wood also claims he was
retaliated against for complaining about age discrimination.
deny targeting older workers for termination based upon their
age, and claim all terminations occurred for legitimate,
nondiscriminatory and nonretaliatory reasons.
seek to certify this matter as a collective action, and the
parties agreed to a phased discovery plan, with initial
discovery focusing on pre-certification issues. (See
Scheduling Order, ECF No. 25.)
Defendants' Motion for Determination of Place of Trial
(ECF No. 17)
filing their Complaint, Plaintiffs designated Kansas City,
Kansas as the place of trial. (ECF No. 2). On May 6, 2019,
Defendants filed the subject Motion for Determination of
Place of Trial, seeking to move the trial to Wichita. (ECF
contend there is no connection to Kansas City with any
employment actions at issue in this case, and the balance of
relevant factors overwhelmingly favor trial in Wichita.
Plaintiffs acknowledge, except for potential witnesses who
are or were employed at Defendant Bombardier's corporate
headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, all parties and the
vast majority of witnesses in this case, including
Plaintiffs, live in or near Wichita, Kansas, and the events
leading to the lawsuit took place in Wichita. Plaintiffs
concede “if convenience and accessibility of witnesses
were the only measure of where to hold a trial, Wichita is
certainly the place to try this case.” (ECF No. 19.)
But Plaintiffs' primary concern is whether a potentially
large pool of plaintiffs could get a fair trial in Wichita,
where Defendants employ more than 2, 000 people. Plaintiffs
are legitimately concerned many in the jury pool likely have
friends or family members who work or have relationships with
Learjet or Bombardier.
determining the place of trial, the relevant factors to
consider are: (1) Plaintiffs' choice of forum; (2) the
convenience of the witnesses; (3) the accessibility of
witnesses and other sources of proof; (4) the possibility of
obtaining a fair trial; and (5) all other practical
considerations that make a trial easy, expeditious and
economical. When “the plaintiff does not reside
in the chosen forum, the rationale for allowing plaintiff to
dictate the forum evaporates.”
Court applies all relevant factors in its analysis. Regarding
the first factor, Plaintiffs live in Wichita. Additionally,
the only real connection to Kansas City is it is the location
of Plaintiffs' counsel. Although the Court accepts
Plaintiffs' explanation that their selection of Kansas
City was truly borne of concern for fairness, and not due to
counsel's location, pursuant to authority in this
District, Plaintiffs' residence outside their chosen
forum gives their choice reduced weight. And though
counsel argued Plaintiffs' selection of forum should
actually be given greater weight in a case such as this,
where Plaintiffs' consciously-chosen forum is actually
less convenient for themselves, neither Plaintiffs nor this
Court located authority to support their innovative argument.
At best, this factor is neutral.
second and third factors point to Wichita being the
appropriate place for trial. In fact, Plaintiffs concede all
parties are located in Wichita, the events occurred in
Wichita, and a vast majority of the fact witnesses are in
this, Plaintiffs contend the Court should place greater
weight on fairness (the fourth factor) under these facts, and
the convenience factor (the fifth factor) should be
considered equal, since Plaintiffs and Defendants equally
would incur expenses to travel to Kansas City. But Plaintiffs
provide no authority for their claim that fairness should be
given greater ...