Venue • 28 U.S.C. §1404(a)

McCraw v. GlaxoSmithKline, PICS Case No. 14-0082 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 17, 2014) Robreno, J. (25 pages).

The court granted GlaxoSmithKline’s motion to transfer venue from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the Southern District of Texas.

This case originated as part of the consolidated Paxil pregnancy litigation pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Mass Tort Program. Defendant filed a notice of removal to federal court and then filed this motion to transfer the case to the Texas district court.

McCraw and her minor child, T.R.M., were residents of Texas at all relevant times. While McCraw was pregnant, a Texas doctor prescribed Paxil for her. T.R.M. was allegedly born with several birth defects as the result of McCraw’s ingestion of Paxil during pregnancy. Plaintiffs opposed removal of the case to Texas.

The court concluded venue would be proper in either forum. An analysis of a request for change of venue under 28 U.S.C. §1404(a) requires a consideration of private and public interests.

Plaintiff’s choice of forum is generally given significant deference, but where plaintiff files outside of that party’s home forum, the choice receives less deference. Plaintiffs were not domiciled in Pennsylvania, nor did McCraw’s ingestion of Paxil occur in Pennsylvania. The court granted only some weight to plaintiffs’ forum choice with regard to this factor. Paxil was developed in Pennsylvania and defendant had extensive operations in that state, but the operative facts of this case occurred in Texas.

The court held plaintiffs’ convenience would be better served by transfer, despite the objection to the change in venue. Furthermore, the convenience of the potential witnesses weighed in favor of transferring the matter to the Texas court. Doctors and other fact witnesses in this case resided in Texas. The court determined that since defendant is a large, multi-national corporation, it would not be particularly problematic for it to defend this case in Texas.

In terms of public policy, the court held that transfer at this early stage of the litigation would not unduly disrupt the litigation or be a drain on judicial resources. When an action involves injuries sustained in a particular locale, the public interest supports adjudication of the controversy in that locale. The court found that the public interest in deciding the controversy at home in Texas weighed in favor of transfer. The court ordered transfer of the case to the Southern District of Texas for further proceedings.