Magistrate Judge David Keesler of the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina ruled in favor of Van Kampen Law client Allison Renirie. In Renirie v. Atlas Copco Compressors, 3:11-CV-645-MOC-DCK (W.D.N.C. April 9, 2012), Defendant Atlas Copco Compressors moved to dismiss for improper venue. But the court sided with Renirie, finding that she was on the right side of the argument.
Renirie filed her complaint in Mecklenburg County state court, alleging wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), and the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993. Defendant successfully removed the case to federal court in the Western District of North Carolina pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the complaint raised federal claims.
After removing to that district, Defendant argued that venue was improper under Title VII’s venue provision and sought to have the lawsuit dismissed or in the alternative transferred to the United States District for South Carolina. Defendant argued that venue was proper only in South Carolina federal court because Renirie worked in South Carolina and the alleged discriminatory acts occurred in that state. Renirie contended that the lawsuit was properly filed in Mecklenburg County Superior Court because she resides in that county and that the removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, made jurisdiction proper in the Western District of North Carolina.
The court, citing precedent raised by Renirie, denied Defendant’s motion in its entirety. It noted that the removal statute established proper venue in the federal district court that encompassed the state court in which the action is pending. This trumped Title VII’s venue provision. Defendant also argued for discretionary transfer in its Reply Brief, but the court did not consider this contention because Defendant was too late in raising the argument.
Defendant’s attempt to transfer the case to federal court in South Carolina is an example of a tactic called “forum shopping.” Defendant likely decided that it would be more likely to prevail in federal court in South Carolina than before the judge that was assigned the case in North Carolina federal court. With the Motion having been denied, the case will proceed to the discovery phase.