United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MVT SERVICES, LLC d/b/a/ MESILLA VALLEY TRANSPORTATION, Plaintiff,
GREAT WEST CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE GREGORY J. FOURATT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's “Motion
to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3), or, in the
alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue” [ECF 12]
(“Motion”). The Motion is fully briefed.
See ECFs 12, 15, 20. After careful consideration of
the pertinent law and the briefing, the Court will DENY the
Motion in its entirety. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court concludes that venue in the District of New Mexico is
proper and that Defendant has failed to show that this
District is an inconvenient forum.
lawsuit stems from a declaratory judgment action filed in the
El Paso Division of the United States District Court for the
Western District of Texas. There, Plaintiff sought to enforce
its rights under a worker's compensation and
employer's liability policy. Specifically, Plaintiff
alleged that Defendant failed to defend Plaintiff, as
required by the policy, against a pending liability claim.
Ultimately, the parties agreed that Plaintiff was entitled to
Defendant's coverage and, per the parties'
stipulation, the case was dismissed with prejudice.
result of this agreement, Plaintiff moved to adjudicate the
pending liability claim under the Texas Workers Compensation
Statute, which would have obliged Defendant to defend and
indemnify Plaintiff. A Texas state trial court, however,
denied Plaintiff's motion, forcing Plaintiff to instead
proceed under a tort theory of liability. Plaintiff
ultimately settled the underlying liability claim for $1
turn of events resulted in Plaintiff filing the instant
lawsuit. Plaintiff alleges that had Defendant initially
“accepted coverage of the [liability claim] at the time
of [Plaintiff's] tender, [Defendant] could have invoked
the exclusive remedy of workers' compensation
benefits” rather than allowing the claim to proceed
under a tort theory. Compl. 7, ECF 1. Moreover, Plaintiff
alleges this failure contributed to it settling the lawsuit
for $500, 000 more than the policy's deductible and also
forced it to incur considerable defense costs-costs that
Defendant has refused to reimburse. Id. Plaintiff
asserts that Defendant's conduct breached the underlying
insurance policy and violated Texas statutory law relating to
has not filed an answer addressing these allegations. Rather,
Defendant has moved to dismiss the case pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) for improper venue, or in
the alternative, to transfer venue for convenience purposes
under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS
first contends that the District of New Mexico is an improper
venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1) and (2).
Specifically, Defendant argues that it does not
“reside” in this district for purposes of §
1391(b)(1) and that, under § 1391(b)(2), a substantial
part of the events or omissions underlying the lawsuit
occurred in the Western District of Texas. Mot. 3-4. As a
result, Defendant argues this Court must dismiss this case
or, in the interest of justice, transfer venue to the Western
District of Texas pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406.
Id. at 4. Alternatively, in the event this Court
finds the District of New Mexico to be a proper forum,
Defendant nevertheless argues that this venue is inconvenient
and requests a transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Mot.
challenges Defendant's interpretation of the governing
venue statute and its conclusion that venue is improper.
Resp. 3-4. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that whether a
corporate defendant “resides” in a district is
not solely determined by its state of incorporation or where
it maintains its principal place of business, but also by
where the corporate defendant is subject to a court's
personal jurisdiction. Id. To that end, Plaintiff
asserts that Defendant is subject to this Court's
personal jurisdiction. Id.
Plaintiff emphasizes that a substantial part of the events or
omissions underlying this lawsuit took place in New Mexico,
making this district a proper venue. Id. at 5.
Consequently, Plaintiff argues, venue is proper and a §
1406 dismissal or transfer would be inappropriate. Plaintiff
finishes by contending that Defendant has not carried its
burden under § 1404(a) and, therefore, is not entitled
to a convenience transfer. Id. at 7-11.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) allows a party to move to
dismiss for “improper venue.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(3); see Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court
for W. Dist. of Texas, 571 U.S. 49 (2013). “This
question-whether venue is ‘wrong' or
‘improper'-is generally governed by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391.” Id. at 55. That section
“govern[s] the venue of all civil actions brought in
district courts of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. §
1391. 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 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