United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue
and Brief in Support (Dkt. # 8). Defendant Bruce Farrar asks
the Court to transfer this case to the United States District
Court for the Western District of Arkansas, because this case
concerns an automobile/bicycle accident that occurred in
Arkansas and none of the parties are citizens of Oklahoma for
the purpose of diversity jurisdiction. Dkt. # 8. Plaintiff
Aaron Hansen responds that he received medical treatment in
Oklahoma following the accident, and his choice of forum
should be given deference. Dkt. # 11. The deadline to file a
reply has expired, and defendant has not filed a reply.
alleges that he was participating in a cycling race in Fort
Smith, Arkansas on September 13, 2015, and he was riding his
bicycle on the designated course. Dkt. # 1, at 2. He claims
that Farrar was stopped by volunteers assisting with the race
when Farrar attempted to drive onto the course. Id.
at 3. Hansen alleges that Farrar disregarded warnings to stay
off the race course and he attempted to drive across the
course just as Hansen was coming around a corner.
Id. Hansen's bicycle collided with Farrar's
vehicle, and Hansen alleges that the accident was solely the
result of Farrar's negligence. Id. Hansen states
that he is a citizen of the state of Texas, but he is a
commissioned officer in the United States Air Force and he
was stationed in Tulsa, Oklahoma when the accident occurred.
Id. at 1. Farrar is a citizen of Arkansas.
September 11, 2017, Hansen filed this case in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma,
and he has asserted a negligence claim against Farrar. Farrar
alleges that the parties are completely diverse and that he
is seeking over $75, 000 in damages. Farrar states that venue
is appropriate in this Court, because this is the judicial
district in which he is domiciled and “a substantial
part of the medical treatment and physical therapy occurred
following the injuries Plaintiff sustained in the incident
giving rise to this action.” Id. at 2. The
complaint does not include an allegation that Farrar is
subject to personal jurisdiction in Oklahoma. Farrar has
filed a motion requesting that the Court transfer this case
to the Western District of Arkansas under 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiff and defendant rely on the factors for transfer of
venue under § 1404 in support of their arguments, but
§ 1404 applies only if this Court is an appropriate
venue for plaintiff's case. Atlantic Marine Constr.
Co., Inc. v. United States District Court for the Western
District of Texas, 134 S.Ct. 568, 579 (2013). Section
1404 states that “[f]or 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 . . . .” This statute
allows a district court to “transfer an action filed in
a proper, though not necessarily convenient, venue to a more
convenient district.” Research Automation, Inc. v.
Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 977
(7th Cir. 2010). A case filed in an improper venue can still
be transferred to a district court in which the case could
have been filed, but such transfers are governed by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1406. Atlantic Marine Constr. Co., 134 S.Ct.
at 578. Section 1406 provides that a district court “in
which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or
district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of
justice, transfer such case to any district or division in
which it could have been brought.” Before reaching the
arguments raised by the parties, the Court must initially
determine whether venue is proper in the Northern District of
question of whether venue is proper in a particular federal
district court is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Section
1391 states that a civil action may be brought in:
(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if
all defendants are residents of the State in which the
district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a
substantial part of the property that is the subject of the
action is situated; or
(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise
be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district
in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal
jurisdiction with respect to such action.
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Plaintiff relies solely on §
1391(b)(2) in support of his assertion that venue is proper
in this Court. Under § 1391(b)(2), venue can be proper
in multiple judicial districts as long as a
“substantial part of the underlying events took place
in those districts.” Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v.
Bartile Roofs, Inc., 618 F.3d 1153, 1166 (10th Cir.
2010). The focus of a district court's analysis is on
“whether the forum activities played a substantial role
in the circumstances leading up to the plaintiff's
claim.” Crowe & Dunlevy, P.C. v. Stidham,
609 F.Supp.2d 1211, 1222 (N.D. Okla. 2009).
argues that he received medical treatment in Tulsa following
the accident, and he claims that his medical treatment is a
substantial part of the events giving rise to his claim.
Plaintiff cites no authority that medical expenses or
treatment can be considered a substantial event giving rise
to his claim. The Court has independently researched this
issue and federal courts have consistently found that medical
treatment, by itself, is not considered a substantial part of
the events giving rise to the plaintiff's claim.
Wisland v. Admiral Beverage Corp., 119 F.3d 733, 736
(8th Cir. 1997); Whiting v. Hogan, 855 F.Supp.2d
1266, 1286-87 (D.N.M. 2012); Hanyuan Dong. v.
Garcia, 553 F.Supp. 962, 965 (N.D. Ill. 2008); Smith
v. Fortenberry, 903 F.Supp. 1018 (E.D. La. 1995). In
this case, the event giving rise to plaintiff's claim
against defendant was the accident that occurred in Fort
Smith, Arkansas. All of the acts that would constitute
negligence on the part of the defendant occurred in Fort
Smith, and plaintiff has not alleged that defendant committed
any act in the state of Oklahoma. Plaintiff seeks damages for
medical expenses incurred after the accident, but the medical
treatment that plaintiff received did not give rise to his
claim against defendant. Plaintiff happens to reside in
Oklahoma and he sought medical treatment in Oklahoma, but the
location of plaintiff's residence does not constitute a
substantial part of the events giving rise to his claim
against defendant. Whiteman v. Grand Wailea Resort,
1999 WL 163044 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 1999) (the alleged
tortious conduct occurred in Hawaii, and venue was not
appropriate in California merely because the plaintiff
obtained medical treatment after leaving Hawaii).
Court finds that venue is not proper in the Northern District
of Oklahoma, because all of the acts giving rise to
plaintiff's claim occurred in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Based
on this finding, the Court does not reach the parties
arguments concerning transfer of venue under § 1404,
because plaintiff has not shown that venue is proper in this
Court. Instead, the Court must consider whether to dismiss
the case or transfer it to a proper venue under § 1406.
Trujillo v. Williams, 465 F.3d 1210, 1223 (10th Cir.
2006). The Court finds that it would be in the interests of
justice to transfer this case to the Western District of
Arkansas. Defendant has not sought dismissal of
plaintiff's case due to improper venue, but defendant has
asked the Court to transfer the case to a proper venue. The
Court is transferring the case to the Western District of
Arkansas under § 1406, and the transferee court will
apply its own choice of law rules to determine whether
Oklahoma or Arkansas law should apply to the case.
Trierweiler v. Croxton and Trench Holding Corp., 90
F.3d 1523, 1532 (10th Cir. 1996).
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to
Transfer Venue and Brief in Support (Dkt. # 8) is
granted, and the Court Clerk is directed to
transfer this case to the United ...