United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
CHRISTOPHER A. STARKS; and TINA W. STARKS, as the Personal Representatives for the Estate of Brittany Jasmine Oswell, Plaintiffs,
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE AND RENDERING MOOT DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS AND PLAINTIFFS'CONTINGENT MOTION FOR
TRANSFER OF VENUE
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a wrongful death case. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332. Pending before the Court are Defendant
American Airlines, Inc.'s (American) motion to dismiss
and alternative motion to transfer venue and Plaintiffs
Christopher A. Starks (Mr. Starks) and Tina W. Starks's
(Ms. Starks; collectively with Mr. Starks, Plaintiffs)
contingent motion for transfer of venue. Having carefully
considered the motions, the responses, the replies, the
record, the arguments at motions hearing, and the applicable
law, it is the judgment of the Court American's motion to
transfer venue will be granted. Consequently, American's
motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs' contingent motion for
transfer of venue will be rendered moot.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case arises out of the death of Brittany Jasmine Oswell (Ms.
Oswell). Ms. Oswell and her husband, Cory Kadeem Oswell (Mr.
Oswell), were scheduled to travel on American flights from
Honolulu, Hawaii to Columbia, South Carolina on April 14 and
15, 2016. ECF No. 30-1 at 3. On the evening of April 14,
2016, Mr. and Ms. Oswell boarded American flight 102 (flight
102) in Honolulu. ECF No. 13 ¶ 7, ECF No. 23 ¶ 7.
Flight 102 was due to arrive at Dallas-Fort Worth airport
(DFW) the following morning. Id. Following a layover
of approximately three hours, Mr. and Ms. Oswell were
scheduled to board American flight 5631 from DFW to Columbia.
ECF No. 30-1 at 3.
flight 102, Ms. Oswell became ill. ECF No. 13 ¶¶
8-21, ECF No. 23 ¶¶ 8-21. By the time flight 102
landed at DFW, Ms. Oswell was unconscious. ECF No. 13 ¶
21, ECF No. 23 ¶ 21. Emergency medical personnel met
flight 102 upon its arrival at DFW, id., and Ms.
Oswell was transferred to Baylor Medical Center, where she
was subsequently admitted, id. ¶¶ 22-23.
Three days later, Ms. Oswell died at Baylor Medical Center.
Id. ¶¶ 24, 26. The cause of death was
acute massive pulmonary embolism and cardiogenic shock.
Id. ¶ 26.
April 18, 2018, Mr. and Ms. Starks, as personal
representatives of the Estate of Ms. Oswell, together with
Mr. Oswell, filed the instant action against American in this
Court. ECF No. 1. The complaint alleged causes of action for:
1) negligence or gross negligence resulting in wrongful
death; 2) survivorship; and 3) loss of consortium.
Id. On June 1, 2018, Plaintiffs filed an amended
complaint that removed Mr. Oswell as a plaintiff and
eliminated the claim for loss of consortium. ECF No. 13.
August 14, 2018, American filed its motion to dismiss and
alternative motion to transfer venue. ECF No. 27. In its
motion to dismiss, American sought to have the Court dismiss
the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. Id. In
the alternative, American asked the Court to transfer the
action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
(Northern District of Texas), Fort Worth Division.
Id. Plaintiffs responded on September 11, 2018, ECF
No. 30, and American replied on September 25, 2018, ECF No.
September 11, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a contingent motion for
transfer of venue. ECF No. 31. In their motion, Plaintiffs
noted they sought such a transfer only if the Court
determined, pursuant to American's motion to dismiss, it
did not have personal jurisdiction over American.
Id. If the Court held it lacked personal
jurisdiction over American, Plaintiffs sought a transfer of
the instant action to the Northern District of Texas pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1406 or 28 U.S.C. § 1631.
Id. American responded on September 25, 2018. ECF
November 26, 2018, the Court entered an Order directing the
parties to conduct limited discovery on the issue of personal
jurisdiction. ECF No. 38. Following a sixty-day period for
such discovery, the parties were to file additional briefing,
if necessary, regarding the issue of personal jurisdiction.
Id. The Court also informed the parties it intended
to hold an evidentiary hearing following the close of
jurisdictional discovery and the filing of any additional
February 26, 2019, American filed a supplemental brief in
support of its motion to dismiss and alternative motion to
transfer venue. ECF No. 48. Plaintiffs filed a response on
March 14, 2019, ECF Nos. 52, 53, and American replied on
March 18, 2019, ECF No. 54.
March 19, 2019, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on the
pending motions. ECF Nos. 47, 55. Counsel for the parties
presented arguments at the hearing. On March 22, 2019,
Plaintiffs filed a supplemental memorandum in opposition to
American's motion to dismiss and American's
alternative motion to transfer venue. ECF. No. 56. American
replied on March 25, 2019. ECF No. 57. Having been fully
briefed on the issues, the Court is now prepared to render a
decision on the merits.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
1404(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides:
“[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 or to any district or division to which all
parties have consented.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
District courts have wide discretion to transfer an action
under 1404(a) “to prevent the waste ‘of time,
energy and money' and ‘to protect litigants,
witnesses and the public against unnecessary ...