United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
Joshua Bella, appearing pro se, is a prisoner at Waupun
Correctional Institution. He alleges that defendants, medical
personnel at WCI, failed to adequately treat him for
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Defendants
have filed a motion to transfer the case to the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Dkt.
18. Under 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 Dorn 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)). Defendants bear the burden of
establishing that the proposed new venue is clearly more
convenient. Coffey, 796 F.2d at 219. I conclude that transfer
to the Eastern District is proper, and I will grant the
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 transfer to the Eastern District,
where WCI is located, is more convenient for the parties and
witnesses because the events at issue occurred there,
plaintiff and most defendants reside there, and most
potential witnesses-WCI employees-likely reside there.
opposes the motion and says that the parole review committee
recently approved him for transfer to medium security. He
says that after transfer, he will reside in the Western
District. But there are medium-security prisons in both
districts, and Bella does not specify which one he will be
transferred to. And even if Bella is transferred to a prison
in the Western District, the defendants and witnesses will
still be in the Eastern District. I note, however, that WCI
is approximately the same distance from the Western District
courthouse as it is from the Eastern District courthouse.
second part of my analysis is the interest-of-justice
inquiry. It “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.”
interests of justice weigh in favor of transfer. Bella
previously litigated another case in the Eastern District
that, like this case, asserted claims against WCI staff for
failing to treat his Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. See Bella v.
Meli, No. 16-cv-1134-LA (E.D. Wis. Aug. 23, 2016). That case
is currently on appeal. See Bella v. Melli, No. 18-2478 (7th
Cir.). So the Eastern District is already familiar with the
factual background of Bella's case. At the same time, his
case has barely progressed in this court. Defendants filed
their motion to transfer on the same day as their answer.
There has not yet been a scheduling conference and there are
no pending motions, so transferring the case will not throw a
wrench in the proceedings.
says that chose to file in the Western District because the
Eastern District treated him unfairly during his last case.
“The plaintiff's choice of forum is usually given
substantial weight, ” but 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. 2007)). And in this case, the
Eastern District (where the events took place and the
witnesses are located) has a stronger relationship to the
dispute. Bella may have lost his previous case, but he cites
no evidence that the judges of the Eastern District are
biased against him. This is not a reason to deny the
conclude that the Eastern District is more convenient forum
and that transfer promotes the interests of justice, I will
grant defendants' motion.
ORDERED that defendants' motion for change of venue, Dkt.
18, is GRANTED.
case is transferred to the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Wisconsin under 28 U.S.C. §
 Bella had a pending motion for
assistance in recruiting counsel when defendants filed their
motion for transfer, Dkt. 9, but I denied the motion because
I concluded that Bella had not shown his case was so