United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
BRANDI R. HAMBLETON, Plaintiff,
EMINENT SPINE, LLC, and RON OMAN, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is defendants Eminent Spine, LLC's, and
Ron Oman's motion to dismiss for improper venue or, in
the alternative, to transfer venue (Dkt. # 21). Plaintiff has
filed a response (Dkt. # 22) and defendants have replied
(Dkt. # 24).
Brandi R. Hambleton resides in Tulsa County, Oklahoma and
resided in Rogers County, Oklahoma when a substantial part of
the events giving rise to her claims allegedly took place.
Dkt. # 2-7, at 1. Eminent Spine, an eleven-person company
that produces biomechanical medical devices, has its sole
office in Georgetown, Texas. Dkt. # 21-1, at 1. For over five
years, Oman has been Eminent Spine's sales manager.
Id. at 2.
January 2015, Eminent Spine hired plaintiff as a medical
sales trainee. Dkt. # 2-7, at 2. At that time, she moved to
The Colony, Texas, to train and learn about Eminent
Spine's products. Dkt. # 21-1, at 2. In April 2015,
Eminent Spine hired plaintiff as a salesperson. Id.
Thereafter, she worked for Eminent Spine in the Dallas/Forth
Worth area for approximately two months, then in Slidell,
Louisiana for a short period of time, then, finally, in
Claremore, Oklahoma (where she is from and has family
working in Claremore, Oklahoma, plaintiff secured the use of
Eminent Spine's products for a surgery at Claremore
Indian Hospital. Dkt. # 22, at 3. In addition, plaintiff
alleges that Oman made numerous, sexually suggestive and
harassing calls to her residence in Claremore and traveled to
Tulsa to meet her at a hotel, where he terminated her
employment after, according to plaintiff, she rebuffed his
sexual advances. Id.
December 18, 2017, plaintiff filed her petition in the
District Court of Rogers County, State of Oklahoma, alleging
four claims: sexual harassment and retaliation under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq. against both defendants (count one);
negligence against Eminent Spine (count two); intentional
infliction of emotional distress against both defendants
(count three); and malicious interference with a contractual
relationship against Oman (count four). Dkt. # 2-7. On
January 16, 2018, defendants removed this case to this Court.
Dkt. # 2.
motion to dismiss for improper venue falls under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(3). In the Tenth Circuit, “it has long been
held” that Title VII's special venue provision,
rather than the general venue statute, “governs venue
in Title VII actions.” Pierce v. Shorty Small's
of Branson Inc., 137 F.3d 1190, 1191 (10th Cir. 1998).
This provision reads in pertinent part:
Such an action may be brought in any judicial district in the
State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to
have been committed, in the judicial district in which the
employment records relevant to such practice are maintained
and administered, or in the judicial district in
which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the
alleged unlawful employment practice, but if the respondent
is not found within any such district, such an action may be
brought within the judicial district in which the respondent
has his principal office. For purposes of sections 1404 and
1406 of Title 28, the judicial district in which the
respondent has his principal office shall in all cases be
considered a district in which the action might have been
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) (emphasis added).
argue that venue is improper in the Northern District of
Oklahoma because the unlawful employment practice plaintiff
complains of is not alleged to have occurred in this
district, Eminent Spine's employment records are
maintained in Texas, and this district is not the judicial
district in which plaintiff would have worked but for the
alleged unlawful employment practice. Dkt. # 21, at 5-6.
Plaintiff responds that venue is proper here because Oman
sexually harassed and retaliated against her in Oklahoma,
and, accordingly, venue is proper in any district in the
state, including the Northern District. Dkt. # 22, at 6.
Court finds that venue is clearly proper in this district.
Defendants cast 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) as requiring
the satisfaction of three conditions for venue to be proper
in a given district. But this is not so. Immediately prior to
listing the third condition that renders venue proper, the
statute includes the word “or.” Obviously, this
indicates that a party need satisfy only one of the three
conditions listed. And, with respect to her Title VII claim,
plaintiff has done so. In fact, she has satisfied two
conditions: she clearly alleges that Oman unlawfully harassed
and retaliated against her in Oklahoma, and that she would
have worked there but for Oman's ...