United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.
M. Dawson, appearing pro se, was an employee at Res-Care Inc.
She alleges that she suffered sexual harassment, was not paid
for overtime worked, and was ultimately fired after she
complained about the harassment and Res-Care’s failure
to fully pay her.
Res-Care filed a motion to transfer the case to the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Dkt. 9. In my order screening the complaint, I noted that
nothing in Dawson’s allegations showed that venue was
proper in the Western District. Dkt. 5, at 2 n.1. In its
motion, Res-Care focused on the relative convenience of the
Eastern and Western districts. I concluded that Res-Care did
not properly support its contentions either that venue is
improper or that the Eastern District would be more
convenient. Dkt. 32, at 2–3. Because it was not yet
clear whether venue was proper or more convenient here, I
gave the parties a final chance to submit evidence supporting
their positions. Id. at 3.
considering the parties’ supplemental materials, I am
still not convinced that venue is improper in this district.
Res-Care does establish that none of the individual
defendants reside in the Western District; four of them live
in or around Milwaukee or Racine, and the fifth lives in
Illinois. But it is unclear whether Res-Care could be
considered to reside in the Western District. It is
undisputed that Res-Care’s offices are all located in
the Eastern District, but Res-Care fails to develop an
argument about its own residence. In a state with multiple
judicial districts, a corporation “resides” in a
district when its contacts in that district would suffice to
establish personal jurisdiction if that district were a
separate state. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(d); KM Ents., Inc.
v. Global Traffic Techs., Inc., 725 F.3d 718, 724 (7th
Cir. 2013). Even after I gave Res-Care a chance to present
supplemental materials, it did not address its residence
under § 1391(d).
I conclude that the case should be transferred under 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a). Under that provision, 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).
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, Inc. v.
Schrader-Bridgeport Int’l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 978
(7th Cir. 2010). Here, Res-Care contends that transfer to the
Eastern District is more convenient because the events at
issue occurred there, most potential witnesses reside there,
and most of the defendants reside there. Res-Care now
provides evidence supporting those contentions. As stated
above, four of the five individual defendants live relatively
close to the Milwaukee courthouse; the fifth lives in
Antioch, Illinois, closer to Milwaukee than Madison. Res-Care
also says that the events at issue here concerning
Dawson’s employment would have taken place at one of
Res-Care’s offices, all of which are in the Eastern
District, and the personnel-related documents likely to be
used in the case are located in its Milwaukee office.
complaint, Dawson says that she lives in Milwaukee, which
lends more support to defendants’ position. In my
previous order, I noted that Dawson stated that “the
discrimination didn’t just occur in Kenosha County, WI
but in other counties as [well] which are  in the Western
District.” Dkt. 18. She also suggests that potential
witnesses live in the Western District. But after I asked the
parties to supplement their briefing, Dawson provides almost
no new information supporting her desire to keep the case in
this district. Dawson now conclusorily states that
“occurrence[s were] also in Jefferson County,” a
county in the Western District. Dkt. 34, at 1. And she states
that “witnesses reside in Dane and Rock County.”
Id. But she does not explain in any detail the
events that took place in the Western District or the names
of the potential witnesses and what they would testify about.
I conclude that the parties’ submissions about
convenience weigh heavily in favor of transfer because they
generally show that the case involves parties located in the
Eastern District regarding events that occurred there.
second part of the analysis is the interest-of-justice
inquiry, which “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. This part of the analysis does not weigh for or against
transfer. I have no doubt that both courts are familiar with
the relevant employment-discrimination law. The parties do
not discuss the remaining factors. Because I conclude that
the Eastern District is a clearly more convenient forum, I
will grant Res-Care’s motion to transfer under §
that Dawson has filed a motion for appointment of counsel,
stating that the “Sixth Amendment gives the right to
counsel in federal prosecutions.” Dkt. 35. But the
right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment applies to
criminal cases. In civil cases like this one, federal courts
can only assist in recruiting counsel who may be willing to
serve voluntarily. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1);
Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654, 656 (7th Cir.
2007) (en banc). I will deny Dawson’s motion because
she should not have needed the assistance of counsel to
respond to the motion to transfer by explaining what
connection her case has to the Western District. As the case
proceeds in the Eastern District, Dawson can file a new
motion for the court’s assistance in recruiting her
counsel, but she will need to explain why she believes that
the case is too difficult for her to litigate on her own.
1. Defendant Res-Care’s motion for change of venue,
Dkt. 9, is GRANTED. This case is transferred to the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
2. Plaintiff Tequilla M. Dawson’s motion for the
court’s assistance in recruiting her counsel, Dkt. 35,
is DENIED without prejudice to ...