United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
R.T.B., a minor, by and through his parents and next friends Richard D. Breault and Maya M. Breault, RICHARD D. BREAULT, individually, and MAYA M. BREAULT, individually, Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. Peterson District Judge.
Richard Dylan Breault (who goes by Dylan) and Maya Breault
went to a military hospital in California, Naval Hospital
Camp Pendleton (NHCP), for the birth of their child, R.T.B.
Plaintiffs say that the doctors at NHCP were negligent in
R.T.B.'s delivery and in resuscitating R.T.B. after the
birth. They allege that R.T.B. suffers from cerebral palsy
and will never live independently, and they assert claims
under the Federal Tort Claims Act and California state law.
Breaults moved to Somerset, Wisconsin, after R.T.B.'s
birth. They filed their case here in the Western District of
Wisconsin, where they now live. Venue here is proper under 28
U.S.C. § 1402(b), because plaintiffs reside in this
district. But venue would also be proper in the Southern
District of California, where the relevant events occurred.
The government has moved to transfer the case to the Southern
District of California, asserting that both convenience to
parties and witnesses and the interests of justice favor
litigating the case in California. The court agrees.
federal venue statute provides that:
For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest
of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to
any other district or division where it might have been
brought or to any district or division to which all parties
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Section 1404(a) calls for a
case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness,
committed to the discretion of the district court.
Research Automation, Inc. v. Schrader-Bridgeport
Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 978 (7th Cir. 2010). If
the balance of convenience is close, merely shifting
inconvenience from one party to another does not justify
transfer. Id. at 978- 79. The burden is on the
government, as the party seeking transfer, to show that
transfer is warranted. Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron
Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986).
the statutory language, the court will begin with the
convenience to parties and witnesses, and then turn to the
interests of justice.
Convenience of parties and witnesses
assessing the relative convenience of one venue over another,
courts typically consider the availability of and access to
witnesses, each party's access to and distance from
resources in each forum, the location of material events, and
the relative ease of access to sources of proof. Research
Automation, 626 F.3d at 978. Although plaintiffs'
choice to file in their home forum is generally entitled to
deference, see Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S.
235, 255-56 (1981), that deference is reduced when the events
at issue in the case did not occur in that forum. See
Williams v. Humphrey, No. 09-cv-202-bbc, 2009 WL
2424329, at *2 (W.D. Wis. Aug. 5, 2009) (quoting Chi., R.
I. & P. R. Co. v. Igoe, 220 F.2d 299, 304 (7th Cir.
1955)). Here, although the convenience of the named
parties weighs slightly against transferring the case to
California, the convenience of the witnesses weighs
substantially in favor of transfer.
contend that transfer would be inconvenient for them because
traveling to and from California could harm R.T.B.'s
health. They also say that they have limited financial means
and could not afford to bring the equipment or support they
would need to care for R.T.B in California, nor could they
afford to hire someone to care for R.T.B. at home while Dylan
and Maya litigate in California.
have considered plaintiffs' special medical difficulties
in deciding motions for transfer. See, e.g., Vassallo v.
Niedermeyer, 495 F.Supp. 757, 760 (S.D.N.Y. 1980);
see also Mummert v. United States, No.
1:18-cv-00856-SHR, 2019 WL 144925, at *7 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 9,
2019) (“. . . a paraplegic needing constant care
because of his inability to attend to his own needs, would
presumably have less physical impediments and expend fewer
resources litigating his claim closer to home.”). But
defendants are right that given R.T.B.'s medical
vulnerability, and particularly his very young age, it is
unlikely that he would appear at trial, regardless of where
it is held.
court is sympathetic to the challenges that Dylan and Maya
face in attending legal proceedings while ensuring the health
and well-being of their son. As defendants point out,
traveling with R.T.B. will be challenging for plaintiffs in
either forum. But it's clear that litigating the case in
Wisconsin would be more convenient ...