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Koval v. United States

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 6, 2013

AUSTIN KOVAL, Plaintiff,


H. RUSSEL HOLLAND, District Judge.

Motion to Transfer Venue

Defendant moves to transfer this case to the Eastern District of California.[1] This motion is opposed.[2] Oral argument was not requested and is not deemed necessary.


Plaintiff is Austin Koval. Defendant is the United States of America. Plaintiff, who now resides in Arizona, was "a federal police officer at a military base of the Defense Logistics Agency ("DLA") in Tracy, California, operated by the Defendant...."[3] Plaintiff alleges that on November 15, 2010, as he was preparing to leave for vacation, he was called back to the base to sign paperwork.[4] Plaintiff further alleges that once he arrived at the base, he was told by Chief Walter Murken that his employment was being terminated.[5] Plaintiff alleges that "DLA Police Sergeant Kurt Christensen... then advised [him that] he could not leave, make any telephone calls, or speak with anyone."[6] Plaintiff further alleges that Murken had Christiansen search his person and DLA Officer Manning search his car.[7] Plaintiff alleges that he was detained in Murken's office for three hours and that during that time, DLA investigators Viera and Stowers interrogated him.[8] Plaintiff alleges that Murken asked DLA Officer Gates to assist but that "Gates refused to participate in the unlawful conduct[.]"[9] Plaintiff alleges that "[w]hen [he] was eventually allowed to leave, he was issued several criminal citations involving firearms."[10] Plaintiff further alleges that "[t]he citations were without legal basis and as a result of having no legal basis[, ] they were dismissed by the United State[s] District Court in Sacramento, California."[11] Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to the foregoing conduct because he 1) "made[] a complaint aginst the DLA cheif and certain DLA officers and investigators for failing to issue citations against certain government employees who were friends with the chief and investigators;" 2) made "a complaint regarding a training officer harassing [p]laintiff;" and 3) made a complaint "to a union representative about practices at the Tracy facility[.]"[12]

On August 9, 2013, plaintiff commenced this Federal Tort Claims action. Plaintiff asserts four claims in his complaint: 1) false arrest under California law, 2) false imprisonment under California law, 3) malicious prosecution under California law, and 4) abuse of process under California law.[13]

Defendant now moves to transfer plaintiff's complaint to the Eastern District of California.


A district court may transfer a civil action to any other district or division where the action might have been brought "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice[.]" 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "The statute has two requirements on its face: (1) that the district to which defendant[] seek[s] to have the action transferred is one in which the action might have been brought, ' and (2) that the transfer be for the convenience of parties and witnesses, and in the interest of justice." Amazon. com v. Cendant Corp. , 404 F.Supp.2d 1256, 1259 (W.D. Wash. 2005) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)

As for the first requirement, an FTCA action "may be prosecuted only in the judicial district where the plaintiff resides or wherein the act or omission complained of occurred." 28 U.S.C. § 1402(b). The acts complained of took place in San Joaquin County, California. Thus, the Eastern District of California is a district where the action might have been brought.

To determine whether the second requirement for a transfer under Section 1404(a) has been met, the court must "weigh multiple factors...." Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc. , 211 F.3d 495, 498 (9th Cir. 2000). In addition to considering the convenience to the parties and witnesses, the court may consider

(1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, [14] (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff's cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof.

Id. at 498-99. " [F]orum non conveniens considerations" might also be "helpful in deciding a § 1404 transfer motion." Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co. , 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986). Forum non conveniens factors that may be relevant here include "the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion [and] the local interest in having localized controversies decided at home[.]" Id . (citations omitted).

Convenience of the parties. This factor weighs slightly against transfer. If this case remains in Arizona, it is likely that counsel for both parties will have to travel to California for depositions. But, it would be more convenient for plaintiff if this case were tried in Arizona as that is where he and his counsel are located. Defendant has counsel available in both the District of Arizona and the Eastern District of ...

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