United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
JULIAN R. BLACKSHEAR, Plaintiff,
TINA AMIN, SGT. JOHN/JANE DOE, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOHN/JANE DOE, MARIANA TOKAR, MICHELLE WILINSKI, MAINTENANCE SUPERVISOR JOHN/JANE DOE, MAINTENANCE WORK JOHN/JANE DOE, MICHAEL MAYER, AMY EPPING, MARCELO CASTILLO, STEPHANIE O'NEILL, and CHARLES VENA, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff Julian R. Blackshear is incarcerated at the Waupun
Correctional Institution (WCI). I granted him leave to
proceed on Eighth Amendment claims against several Racine
Correctional Institution (RCI) officials who he alleges were
deliberately indifferent to the hazards present in his
observation cell. Defendants have moved to transfer the case
to the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Dkt. 19. In a May 1,
2018 order, I instructed defendants to respond to
Blackshear's allegations that he has been denied access
to his legal materials and the law library. I stayed
consideration of defendants' transfer motion pending
then, defendants have responded, indicating that Blackshear
was transferred from RCI to WCI in early May and that he has
access to his legal materials and the restrictive housing
unit law library at WCI. Blackshear has not replied to
defendants' response, even though I gave him the
opportunity to do so. It's clear that he is capable of
corresponding with the court because he has filed another
motion “to add defendants, ” see Dkt.
27, and a notice of his new address, see Dkt. 26. So
I take his silence to mean that he agrees with defendants
that he now has access to his legal materials and the law
library and that he does not wish to supplement his response
to defendants' transfer motion. It does not appear that
Blackshear's right of access to the court is being
denied, so I will turn my attention to defendants' motion
to transfer venue.
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a court may transfer a case to
another district where the action may have been brought if
transfer serves the convenience of the parties and witnesses
and will promote the interest of justice. See Coffey v.
Van Porn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219- 20 (7th Cir.
1986). “The statute permits a ‘flexible and
individualized analysis.'” Research Automation,
Inc. v. Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d
973, 978 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Stewart Org., Inc. v.
Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988)). The defendants
bear the burden of establishing that the transferee forum is
clearly more convenient. Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219.
The parties do not dispute that venue is proper in both the
Western District and the Eastern District, so I will turn
directly to the convenience and interest-of-justice
convenience inquiry “generally” focuses on
“the availability of and access to witnesses, and each
party's access to and distance from resources in each
forum.” Research Automation, 626 F.3d at 978.
Defendants contend that the Eastern District, where RCI is
located, is clearly more convenient for the parties and
witnesses because the events at issue occurred there, the
parties reside there, and many potential witnesses “are
located” there. Dkt. 19, at 2. Blackshear does not
dispute that these factors weigh in favor of transfer, but he
stresses that he chose to file in the Western District.
“The plaintiff's choice of forum is usually given
substantial weight, ” although it “is given less
deference ‘when another forum has a stronger
relationship to the dispute.'” Almond v.
Pollard, No. 09-cv-335, 2010 WL 2024099, at *2 (W.D.
Wis. May 18, 2010) (quoting Amorose v. C.H. Robinson
Worldwide, Inc., 521 F.Supp.2d 731, 735 (N.D. Ill.
interest-of-justice inquiry “relates to the efficient
administration of the court system” and focuses on
“factors including docket congestion and likely speed
to trial in the transferor and potential transferee forums,
each court's relative familiarity with the relevant law,
the respective desirability of resolving controversies in
each locale, and the relationship of each community to the
controversy.” Research Automation, 626 F.3d at
978. “The interest of justice may be determinative,
warranting transfer or its denial even where the convenience
of the parties and witnesses points toward the opposite
result.” Id. Defendants acknowledge that the
Eastern District and Western District share similar caseloads
and similar time to trial; both courts are familiar with the
relevant law. They don't argue the remaining factors.
says he wants his case tried in the Western District
“because of the ADR Act Rule that the Western District
has” (I take Blackshear to mean mediation) and because
fewer filings in the Western District mean his “case
could be focused on more.” Dkt. 20, at 1. But mediation
is available in the Eastern District as well as the Western
District, and as the judicial caseload statistics provided by
defendants indicate, each judge in the Eastern District has
fewer cases, on average, than each judge in the Western
District. See Dkt. 19-1. Blackshear's case will
receive adequate attention and an opportunity for mediation
regardless of which district it is litigated in. Thus, the
interest of justice does not weigh for or against transfer.
Although Blackshear's choice of forum is entitled to some
deference, it appears that his choice was based on
misapprehensions about the number of cases per judge and the
availability of mediation in each district. I conclude that
defendants have met their burden of showing that Eastern
District of Wisconsin is clearly more convenient. I will stay
consideration of Blackshear's “motion to add
defendants” pending transfer.
Defendants' motion to transfer, Dkt. 19, is GRANTED.
case is transferred to the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Wisconsin ...