United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
Mindy N. Neal, Plaintiff,
Cigniti Technologies, Inc., Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion to Alter
Judgment (ECF No. 24) in which Plaintiff requests a transfer
of venue to the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas. Plaintiff seeks review of the court's
October 3, 2018 Order (ECF No. 22), accepting the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report) (ECF
No. 19) and dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 1)
without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). For the reasons stated herein, the
court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Alter
Judgment, VACATES its October 3, 2018 order
(ECF No. 22) and judgment (ECF No. 23), and
TRANSFERS this action to the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
court adopts its prior recitation of the facts from its
October Order (ECF No. 22). On October 3, 2018, because
neither party filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's
Report, and the Report accurately summarized the law and
correctly applied it to the instant case, this court accepted
the Magistrate Judge's Report, granted Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 8) and dismissed Plaintiff's
Complaint (ECF No. 1) without prejudice. (ECF No. 22 at 3.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), a court may
“alter or amend [a] judgment if the movant shows either
(1) an intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new
evidence that was not available at trial, or (3) that there
has been a clear error of law or manifest injustice.”
Robinson v. Wix Filtration Corp., 599 F.3d 403, 412
(4th Cir. 2010) (citing Small v. Hunt, 98 F.3d 789,
797 (4th Cir. 1996)). The moving party has the burden to
establish one of these three grounds in order to obtain
relief under Rule 59(e). Loren Data Corp. v. GXS,
Inc., 501 Fed.Appx. 275, 285 (4th Cir. 2012). The
decision whether to reconsider an order pursuant to Rule
59(e) is within the discretion of the district court. See
Hughes v. Bedsole, 48 F.3d 1376, 1382 (4th Cir. 1995).
Importantly, “reconsideration of a judgment after its
entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used
sparingly.” Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire
Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998) (citation
Plaintiff's Motion to Alter Judgment, she requests that
the court amend its prior judgment and grant a transfer of
venue to the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas. (ECF No. 24.) Under Robinson,
Plaintiff must have established one of three grounds in order
to obtain relief under Rule 59(e). 599 F.3d at 412. Because
neither an intervening change in law nor new evidence that
was not available at trial is present in this case, the court
considers whether Plaintiff has established that there has
been a clear error of law or manifest injustice.
court's October Order, it accepted the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation, agreeing that
Plaintiff had not shown that Defendant's contacts with
South Carolina were sufficient to establish personal
jurisdiction. (ECF No. 19 at 7.) Because Plaintiff could not
establish that the court had personal jurisdiction over
Defendant, the Magistrate Judge recommended that
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) be
granted, and this court accepted the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation and dismissed Plaintiff's
Complaint. However, after consideration of Plaintiff's
Motion to Alter Judgment, the court finds that there would be
manifest injustice if the court affirmed dismissal of
Plaintiff's action and did not transfer it to the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
O'Neal v. Hicks Brokerage Co., the United States
Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with the
district court that a defendant's “contacts [were]
too attenuated to confer [personal] jurisdiction upon the
District Court of South Carolina.” O'Neal v.
Hicks Brokerage, Co., 537 F.2d 1266, 1268 (4th Cir.
1976). However, the Fourth Circuit reversed the district
court's order to dismiss, and instead transferred the
case to North Carolina where the case could have been
brought. Id. Specifically, because the cause of
action arose in North Carolina, the court found that
“[t]he fairness required by due process would be
abrogated if [the court] permitted [Defendant] to be subject
to the jurisdiction of South Carolina courts” and that
the action should be transferred to North Carolina in which
North Carolina law would apply. Id. Therefore, when
a district court lacks personal jurisdiction over a defendant
in a matter, the court may transfer the case to a venue where
the case could have been brought. See Goldlawr, Inc. v.
Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 465-66 (1962).
Levi v. Harris Teeter, LLC, a district court held
that Plaintiff's claim should be transferred from South
Carolina to the Western District of North Carolina because
Plaintiff's claim was filed in the wrong venue and
“the interests of justice dictate[d] that [the] case be
transferred rather than dismissed.” Levi v. Harris
Teeter, LLC, No. 4:16-CV-1083-RBH-TER, 2016 WL 4942057,
at *2 (D.S.C. Aug. 25, 2016), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 4:15-CV-01083-RBH, 2016 WL 4911047 (D.S.C.
Sept. 15, 2016). The court made this determination based on
the fact that Plaintiff's claims would otherwise be
barred from re-filing in the proper venue as outside the
limitations period for Title VII claims. Id.
Therefore, in determining whether a Title VII claim should be
dismissed or transferred, the court should consider the
limitations period for Title VII claims and transfer the case
if it would be in the interest of justice.
in Dove v. CODESCO, the Fourth Circuit treated the
plaintiff's motion to set aside the district court's
dismissal order as a motion under Rule 59(e) and viewed the
dismissal as an abuse of the court's discretion. Dove
v. CODESCO, 569 F.2d 807, 809-10 (4th Cir. 1978).
Specifically, where the plaintiff had raised a Title VII
claim against his former employer, and the plaintiff's
counsel failed to attend a pretrial conference, the district
court dismissed the plaintiff's claim despite the fact
that any future litigation of the plaintiff's claim would
be barred because the limitations period had expired.
Id. at 808-09. The Fourth Circuit held that although
“the failure of plaintiff's local counsel to
familiarize herself with local rules and practice” was
inexcusable, “the sanction of dismissal was overly
harsh, and therefore, an abuse of the court's
discretion.” Id. at 810. Therefore, a district
court may transfer a case when requested by a plaintiff under
Rule 59(e) if the case would be otherwise barred under the
Title VII limitations period.
Title VII, “a plaintiff must file an action with the
district court within ninety days after the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides a right to sue notice
to the [p]laintiff.” Id. (citing 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5(f)(1)). Title VII also provides a venue
provision, which states in part:
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.
43 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) (emphasis added). In addition,
“when a plaintiff files in the wrong venue, 28 U.S.C
§ 1406(a) directs courts to ‘dismiss, or if it be
in the interest of justice, transfer such case' to the
proper venue. The choice to transfer or dismiss a case is
afforded by 28 U.S.C. § 1404.” See Quinn v.
Watson,145 Fed.Appx. 799, 800 (4th Cir. 2005).
Specifically, “the ‘interest of justice'
requires ‘removing whatever obstacles may impede an
expeditious and orderly adjudication of cases ...